• December 8, 2021

Dishin & Swishin 11/25/15 Podcast: Tony Bozzella and Seton Hall proving last year was no fluke

2015-16 Seton Hall Women's Basketball. Photo: Seton Hall Athletics.
2015-16 Seton Hall Women’s Basketball. Photo: Seton Hall Athletics.

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In 1992, Seton Hall’s women’s basketball team started the season 5-0. At the same time, the current head coach of the Pirates, Tony Bozzella, began a head coaching career at Southampton College, a Division II school in New Jersey. After stops at Long Island University-Brooklyn and Iona, Bozzella returned to his alma mater in South Orange, NJ to take over as head coach.

That season twenty-three years ago was also the last time Seton Hall started off 5-0, until now. Last night’s road win at the University of Texas-Arlington gave the current version of Pirates five straight wins. On the heels of a 28-win season last year and an NCAA tournament win, Bozzella is proving that the Pirates are no one-year wonder and that Seton Hall is a program on the rise for years to come.

Last year’s squad was loaded with seniors and graduate students, great at the time, but their departure left the Pirates with only one returning starter, Tabitha Richardson-Smith, who just happened to be their leading scorer.

While she has struggled some with her shot, Richardson-Smith is averaging around 19 points and seven rebounds per game, and is proving herself to be a potential WNBA draft choice. Tiffany Jones, the current Big East player of the week, moved into the starting lineup, and is rewarding Bozzella’s confidence in her with almost 16 points per game, while hitting an outstanding 57 percent from three-point range and over 60 percent overall.

Part of last year’s success was the late addition of transfer Daisha Simmons, a graduate student from Alabama. In fact, Bozzella makes no secret that he counts on transfers to bolster his roster each year; some graduate students some undergraduate transfers. This year is no exception. Starters Aleesha Powell (Iona), Lubirdia Gordon (West Virginia), and Shakeena Richardson (Florida State, graduate transfer), all started elsewhere.

The other thing noticeable when looking at the Pirates roster is that Bozzella is getting the local talent to not only stay in the area, but to also pick Seton Hall over places like Rutgers and St. John’s. This year’s team has nine players from New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania. Keeping the locals home is a sure sign of a program building for the long haul.

Early season wins over Rutgers and Princeton have pushed Seton Hall into the public eye, and while Seton Hall did not receive enough votes to crack the Associated Press Top 25 this week, they did enter the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Wins in out-of-conference games on a neutral court against North Carolina State and Northern Iowa over Thanksgiving, and a road game at Georgia should help garner votes though.

It is a pleasure to welcome Bozzella back to Dishin & Swishin. Last year we asked his Twitter hashtag question #WhynotSetonHall? This year we can say the exact same thing. Topics covered on the podcast include:

  • Building a program for the long haul, not a flash in the pan
  • Transfers, the good and bad of the current climate and Seton Hall’s usage of transfers
  • The polls, getting votes, and the pros and cons
  • Last year’s success and this year’s team

Congratulations to Tony Bozzella on a great start for the Seton Hall team, as he eliminates any question that even though he is only in his third year as captain of the Pirates’ ship, he is making waves.

Have a great Thanksgiving week and enjoy the podcast!

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