P. J. Carlesimo sees a superstar guard. He sees a lot of size. He sees an elite defense team. He sees experience and depth.
Looking at this Seton Hall team, he looks back to 1992-1993 – the last time the pirates won the regular season Big East crown and he patrolled the sidelines.
"I would say there are many similarities to the team from 1993," the former Seton Hall coach told The Post in a phone interview, referring to his group, to which Pirates, the best scorer of all time, Terry Dehere , and the NBA draft for the first round included Select Luther Wright. "They resemble a couple of our teams – the combination of good defense, good size at the front and one or two great players. They also have good guards. Guards are important all the time, but they are especially important in March and April. You like to control a game and they have guards who know how to do it, which is a great luxury. ”
70-year-old Carlesimo, who now lives in Seattle and works for Westwood One, ESPN and the Pac-12 network, is excited, like most Seton Hall fans, about the prospects for this team. He has a close relationship with trainer Kevin Willard, sends him regular text messages after the games and tunes in whenever possible. Carlesimo attended college in Fordham but still sees himself as a pirate after leading Seton Hall to six NCAA tournaments in twelve seasons, three Sweet 16 tournaments, and the 1989 national championship game.
"Seton Hall feels like my alma mater, and I'm obviously following her very, very closely," he said.
After the Pirates defeated Villanova on Saturday and the Wildcats defeated for the first time since Carlesimo was coached in 1994, the Pirates led the Big East with three games and seven games remaining. Under the direction of national player of the year candidate Myles Powell and an experienced supporting actress, 10th place in Seton Hall (18-5, 10-1) is predicted by most bracketologists as two or three seeds. Record in fifth episode at NCAA tournaments. Not even Carlesimo was able to do that when he directed the program.
"That is perhaps the most important thing for me," he said. "If you consistently make it at Seton Hall, I don't think you're doing a good job, you're doing a great job. Kevin did a great job."
Carlesimo and Willard have a long history – they go back to his friendship with Willard's father Ralph. Ironically, it was Ralph Willard's Western Kentucky team that ended the second-placed pirate season in 1993 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Seton Hall has not been seeded since sixth and most recently reached Sweet 16 in 2000. However, this could be a setback year, especially with the opening weekend of the tournament in Albany and the East Regional in Madison Square Garden.
"I thought they could be pretty good [this year], To be honest, they are better than that now, "said Carlesimo." They are built very, very well for a good run in the tournament. They have big boys, they defend, they are obviously well trained and they have one of the best players in the country. It's a nice combination. "
Unless Seton Hall is shipped west, Carlesimo is unlikely to see her on the first two weekends, as he typically stays close during these rounds of the tournament and hosts the West Regional games on Westwood One. But a reunion could still happen if the pirates made it to the final four.
"I wish I could get Albany and Madison Square Garden," he said, "but I don't mind at all when I connect with them in Atlanta."