Most of the general sporting public cares not for early-season college basketball. “Wake me up when March Madness is here, or at least the conference tournaments,” is a version of what you’ll often hear from most outsiders.
Well allow me to wake you up from that antiquated mentality. Once Seton Hall beat down Wagner 72-51 on Saturday, Pirates coach Shaheen Holloway took a little bit of issue with his counterpart Donald Copeland whilst shaking hands.
The typical sign of good sportsmanship damn near turned into a kerfuffle of fisticuffs. Alas, we weren’t so lucky, as cooler heads prevailed and the men were separated before it escalated further. A little more background: Holloway and Copeland both played at Seton Hall back in the day. Copeland was even an assistant for the Pirates in 2021-22.
By all accounts, both men respect each other a great deal and were cordial prior to Saturday’s tip-off.
My assumption is that Holloway was peeved about Copeland’s decision to implore his players to foul late in the game. Obviously the outcome was way out of reach. That didn’t stop Wagner from committing fouls with 1:50 remaining — score: 68-50 — and with 37 seconds left.
Who cares that it was mathematically impossible to win? Copeland has a no-quit attitude. Even he acknowledged afterwards, though, that the bush-league, pedantic piece of strategy was misguided.
Wagner coach Donald Copeland said he's 'embarrassed' by what happened in the hand-shake line with Shaheen Holloway
"He's a competitor, I'm a competitor, too. I just want to coach my team from the start to finish."
Holloway on the handshake: "I take full responsibility for that. I like Donald. I respect him. He's a good person, a good player and a good coach." Holloway said as the big brother in their friendship, he has to handle that better.
Side note: Quite an interesting coaching carousel has played out between these men. Copeland’s predecessor at Wagner, Bashir Mason, is now the head coach at Saint Peter’s. If you remember back to last year’s NCAA Tournament, the 15th-seeded Peacocks made a Cinderella run for the ages, advancing all the way to the Elite Eight.
The coach for that Saint Peter’s squad? None other than Shaheen Holloway, who leveraged that into coaching for his alma mater. Seton Hall beat the Peacocks in the season opener, is now 4-0 after crushing Wagner, and are about to be tested much more significantly. Sandwiched around a duel with Northeastern are marquee matchups with No. 16 USC and 15th-ranked Baylor.
If Holloway keeps bringing this kind of energy and his players continue to buy in, why count them out against anyone?