Seton Hall vs. Marquette basketball: Jeremy Hazell earns tribute – Asbury Park Press

Seton Hall vs. Marquette basketball: Jeremy Hazell earns tribute – Asbury Park Press

Day after Christmas, 2009. If you were at Prudential Center, or watched on CBS, Jeremy Hazell’s 41-point explosion against West Virginia is seared into memory.
The Seton Hall basketball sharpshooter hit two 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds, the latter a cannonball from 30 feet, to force overtime of an eventual loss to the sixth-ranked Mountaineers.
“That was the most points I scored, but not the best game I ever had,” Hazell, now 36, said Wednesday from his baseline seat while watching the current Pirates beat 15th-ranked UConn.
There were a ton of candidates for that, which is why Hazell is being inducted into Seton Hall Athletics’ Hall of Fame this year. He’ll be honored during Saturday’s showdown with 20th-ranked Marquette (4 p.m., CBS Sports Network) along with fellow inductees Jim Duffy (baseball, class of 2001), Peter Economou (men’s swimming, 2002), Kathy O’Reilly (women’s basketball, 1988) and Julia Sandiford (women’s track & field, 1995).
“Very happy that the Seton Hall family acknowledge my talents,” Hazell said. “It’s great to be among the greatest. I’m very blessed and humbled.”
In four seasons at the Hall Hazell scored 2,146 points, fourth-most in program history, and remains sixth in Big East scoring annals with 1,316 points in conference games. He was a three-time All-Big East selection.
Not bad for a three-star recruit whose only other high-major scholarship offer came from Tennessee.
“Never would have thought I could do all that,” he said. “I give credit to my teammates and coaches who believed in me and pushed me to get there.”
Hazell said he crossed paths with then-Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez this past summer and they had a nice chat. Gonzalez recognized Hazell’s explosive talent early and made him the focal point of a high-octane offense (he attempted a whopping 33 shots against West Virginia). The results were, at times, electrifying:
∎ 29 points on 8-of-14 shooting from 3-point range in an upset of Louisville his freshman year (Hazell views this as his best game).
∎ 35 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Rutgers as a sophomore.
∎ 38 points, 5 rebounds and 5 steals in a loss to Syracuse as a junior.
∎ 35 points on 8-of-11 shooting from 3-point range in a win over Notre Dame as a junior.
∎ 28 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in a win at Syracuse his senior year.
There will always be a big what-if: In the third game of his senior year, under new coach Kevin Willard, Hazell scored 27 in a win over Alabama but suffered a broken bone in his wrist. It cost him seven weeks, sidetracking the Pirates’s season and his ascent up the program’s record books.
“Ah man, I wonder sometimes what would have happened, but it happened,” Hazell said. “It’s life. Can’t do nothing about it. But it’s crazy to think if it never happened.”
He’s been a regular at the Rock this season. After spending a few years playing pro ball overseas, he’s back living in Harlem. He knows head coach Shaheen Holloway, who was the Pirates’ top assistant in his final season in South Orange.
“He’s doing great for his first year,” Hazell said. “I love this team; the kids are great. That’s why I keep coming back.”
Imagine a Hazell on this year’s roster?
“They could definitely always use me,” he said with a wide grin. “But I’m just happy to be here.”
After winning four straight games, Seton Hall (12-8 overall, 5-4 Big East) has clawed its way into NCAA Tournament contention. A win over Marquette (15-5, 7-2) would add a fourth Quad 1 victory to the resume and have the Pirates popping up in some projected brackets.
The Hall is 0-3 against Marquette since Shaka Smart took the reins last year, including last month’s 83-69 loss in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles are 3-3 on the road this season with close losses at Xavier, Providence and Purdue.
Statistically, Marquette ranks sixth in the nation in field-goal percentage (.502) and 14th in points per game (82.7). In Big East action, Seton Hall leads the league in scoring defense (59.2 points) and field-goal percentage defense (.368). In the second halves of their four straight wins, the Pirates have yielded just 26, 24, 28 and 26 points. They are 12-1 when holding opponents under 70 points, with the lone loss coming shorthanded against Siena in November.
A crowd of close to 10,000 is expected at Prudential Center.  
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at [email protected].

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