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Posts Tagged ‘Garden State Parkway.’

Seton Hall hires Kevin Willard to be head men’s basketball coach

compiled from staff and news reports

Kevin Williard has left Iona College to head the men’s basketball program at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. The 34-year-old Williard replaces the controversial Bobby Gonzalez, who was fired on March 17 after a 19-win season that was beset by problems off the court.

Kevin Williard Seton Hall (SHU)

Gonzalez was fired a day after Seton Hall lost in the opening round of the NIT, a game in which Pirates forward Herb Pope was ejected for hitting a Texas Tech player below the belt. Gonzalez also picked up his seventh technical foul of the season.

Forward Robert Mitchell, who was kicked off the team days before the NIT game, was charged the same week with robbing eight people at gunpoint in South Orange. He pleaded not guilty.

A week before the season started, guard Keon Lawrence, a transfer,  was involved in a traffic in a traffic accident on the Garden State Parkway in which he was driving in the wrong direction, seriously injuring the driver of the other vehicle. Lawrence was charged with assault by an auto and driving with a suspended license, and was suspended for the first eight games of the season.

Rumors had been swirling for months that Patrick Hobbs, the law school dean who is overseeing the Seton Hall Pirates athletic department, wanted to get rid of Gonzalez because he had lost control of the program and that the school’s reputation was taking serious hits from the fans, media and alumni.

Kevin Willard took over the Iona Gaels program that was in the bottom 10 among Division I teams in the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) three years ago and led the it to a 21-10 record this year, earning  the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) coach of the year award.  A former Pittsburgh guard, Williard is a disciple of Rick Pitino. He spent four years as a Boston Celtics assistant and followed Pitino to Louisville for another six years before arriving at Iona.

During his first year, the Gaels finished with 10 victories or more than the previous year, one of the top turnarounds in NCAA Division I in 2007-2008. They won two games during the 2006-2007 season.

Just like Bobby Gonzalez, Willard favors an uptempo, pressure defense and aggressive game.

Willard comes from a basketball pedigree.  His father, Ralph, was a head coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross, and currently is the associate head coach under Rick Pitino.