Seton Hall extends Gonzalez

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Handed a new three-year contract extension, Bobby Gonzalez predicted that this could be the season that Seton Hall returns to a postseason tournament, and it could be the NCAA.

Athletic director Joe Quinlan announced on Thursday that the fiery Gonzalez was given a contract extension through the 2014-15 season. The school did not disclose contract terms.

Gonzalez has guided the Pirates to a 47-46 record in three seasons with the Big East Conference school. However, his teams always have been mired near the bottom of one of the strongest basketball conferences in the country.

"I am putting self-induced pressure on myself to get the team and the program to the postseason this year because we haven't been there yet," Gonzalez said in a conference call. "The NIT is a lot harder to get into than it used to be, but I won't be satisfied with the NIT and I am sure the fans won't be. That's not what I want for this team. I want this team to go to the NCAA."

The last time Seton Hall made the NCAA tournament was in 2005-06. Their last NIT berth was in 2002-03. Louis Orr, whom Gonzalez replaced, coached those teams.

The Pirates (17-15) return four starters from last season, including leading scorer Jeremy Hazell. Point guard Eugene Harvey, forward Robert Mitchell and center John Garcia are all back.

Joining them will be transfers Keon Lawrence, Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson along with Jamel Jackson, true freshman Ferrakohn Hall and Melvyn Oliver.

Gonzalez said the group is the deepest he's had at Seton Hall, with the potential to crack the top six teams in the Big East.

During his short tenure, Gonzalez's teams have played an uptempo system and they have scored upset victories over Louisville, Virginia, USC and Georgetown. The problem has always been a lack of depth, rebounding and ability to play a half-court offense.

While this group has talent, the question will be can it gel, mixing transfers, JUCO players and the returning starters.

Gonzalez said that the extension dispels the rumors that his job was in jeopardy.

"It shuts everybody up, whether it be rival coaches, media and anyone else who wants to put you on the hot seat," He said.

Gonzalez said the extension has been in the works for a long time. He noted that New Jersey Senate President Richard Codey helped him negotiate the deal. Codey is a Seton Hall alumnus.

"This extension serves as a strong indicator of the university's commitment and support for Bobby Gonzalez as head coach of our men's basketball program," Quinlan said in a statement. "We expect to be successful and believe that Coach Gonzalez has taken the necessary steps to position our program for future success. He has made progress with the program in only three years and we are very pleased to have him as our head coach."

Gonzalez is known for his frequent technical fouls, often pacing the sideline and yelling at players and officials. He was suspended for the first conference game last season because of a run-in with Rutgers coach Fred Hill late the previous season.

University president Monsignor Robert Sheeran said Gonzalez has his enthusiastic support.

"Coach Gonzalez has brought us a long way in three years in the most competitive conference in the country," he said.

Prior coming to Seton Hall, Gonzalez spent seven seasons at Manhattan, where he posted a 127-77 record. The Jaspers earned two NCAA tournament berths in his tenure, advancing to the second round in 2004 after knocking off fifth-seeded Florida.