Shaheen Holloway shoots for Seton Hall to ‘get bigger and higher’

In the past seven years, Seton Hall has regained national importance.

There have been five NCAA tournaments, one Big East tournament title, and one Big East regular-season championship. But a March breakthrough — the kind Cinderella Saint Peter has been enjoying for the past few weeks — was the missing piece.

The new coach from Seton Hall, who led the Peacocks on their remarkable run into the Elite Eight, intends to change that. Shaheen Holloway wants to take what predecessor Kevin Willard did and build on it.

“Keep doing what he’s been doing and keep getting bigger and taller,” Holloway, 45, told the Post shortly after his emotionally charged news conference at Walsh High School. “Just win at every stage.

“It’s too important to me. This is home. I dreamed of that. I can’t afford to screw it up. I won’t screw it up. I will work, work and work.”

It was a memorable day in South Orange, NJ, when the favorite son – the veteran point guard and assistant coach – returned to take over the program. A number of notable alumni were in attendance, from Terry Dehere to Marcus Toney-El. So did Pat Hobbs, Rutgers athletic director and former dean of Seton Hall Law School, and Brandin Knight, Holloway’s nephew and Rutgers assistant head coach. Several current Seton Hall players showed up and the entire Saint Peter’s team was there too.

New Seton Hall manager Shaheen Holloway waves to the crowd as he holds his son Tyson during his opening press conference.
New Seton Hall manager Shaheen Holloway waves to the crowd as he holds his son Tyson during his opening press conference.
Bill Kostron

“That was a movie today, man,” Holloway said. “So many emotions are going on. So many people here are showing support, showing love. It was amazing man. It was humbling.”

Holloway called out the Peacocks during his speech and asked for an ovation from the Seton Hall fans in attendance. It wasn’t loud enough for the new coach.

“Hold on. Pirate nation, we can do better than that,” Holloway told the crowd.

Saint Peter got another ovation, this time louder. It was not an easy decision to leave the Jersey City school after what the team had achieved over the past three years. It wasn’t just the run to the Elite Eight. Saint Peter’s have won three straight seasons for the first time since 2004-06. When he shared his decision with his players, they supported him during a three-hour meeting. They surprised Holloway by attending the press conference alone.

But Seton Hall was his home as a player and as a coach for nearly a decade. This is where he met his wife Kim, his daughter Shatanik went to school here and this is where he made so many important relationships in his life. He couldn’t say no.

Shaheen Holloway
Shaheen Holloway
Getty Images

“It means everything,” Holloway said. “I came to Seton Hall in 1996, as a young man who didn’t know too much. I came back here to train in 2011 and now I’m back right now. I can’t describe the feeling.

“It’s a bittersweet thing. I’m so happy to have this opportunity but I have to bury my grandmother this week and I left a group of guys who believed in me and took a chance on me. It’s all in one.”

Seton Hall welcomed back one of his own in this March Madness sensation, a coach who wowed the nation with his in-game coaching adjustments, his team’s defensive tenacity and ease in the spotlight. Saint Peter’s played so hard and with such precision in the excitement of Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue that the Peacocks gave Holloway everything they had. A former Seton Hall player, Khadeen Carrington, followed closely and understood why Holloway was able to get so much out of these players.

“He comes from the same place a lot of players come from,” said Carrington, a Brooklyn native who Holloway recruited to Seton Hall as part of the 2014 Blockbuster class. “It was easy to identify with him. He’s been through a lot of the same things we’ve been through.”

Everyone Carrington with ties to Seton Hall has spoken to is thrilled that Holloway was the choice to replace Willard. Although the program has made great strides in recent years, there is hope that Holloway can push the pirates even further.

“There’s no upper limit,” Carrington said. “He’s a great guy, a great coach. You’ve seen it this year, he’s taken the St Peter team this far. There is no telling what he can do with many more resources.” Shaheen Holloway shoots for Seton Hall to ‘get bigger and higher’


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