After a historic run in the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Saint Peter’s basketball program is still living off their high but must come back to reality. This Saint Peter’s basketball team was the definition of an underdog; America fell in love with them and nobody’s college basketball picks could have predicted this.
It has been three months since the Peacocks busted all of our brackets and everyone grew mustaches for Doug Edert, but it feels like it was just yesterday. Saint Peter’s, a small private college in Jersey City, New Jersey, is now known worldwide. The school is home to less than 3,000 students but made countless impressions in March.
Here is a quick refresher for those who may have forgotten about the Peacock magic. Saint Peter’s earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Monmouth in the MAAC title game as the No. 2 seed. From that moment on, they were ready to roll.
Let’s flashback to March 17 when the 15-seeded Saint Peter’s faced off against the blue blood, the 2-seeded Kentucky. Welcome to March Madness, Kentucky. The Peacocks won in overtime, 85-79, and moved onto the Round of 32. Saint Peter’s went on to play the 7-seed, Murray State, who were many people’s pick to go far as they had only two regular-season losses.
The madness continued, as the Peacocks raced past the Racers, 70-60, and now we had a 15-seed in the Sweet 16. How would this small school contend with Purdue, led by their star guard Jaden Ivey, and their monsters in the paint Trevion Williams and Zach Edey?
With the entire country–besides the state of Indiana–cheering them on, Saint Peter’s faced an early 33-29 halftime deficit against the 3-seed Purdue. The gritty Peacocks held one of the scariest offenses in the league to 64 points, as they took home the win 67-64. Ivey was held to just 9 points.
All good things must come to an end, and after making history, Saint Peter’s run ended in the Elite 8. Nobody imagined an Elite 8 between the 15-seed and the 8-seed, but the 8-seeded UNC crushed the dreams of the Peacocks, 69-49. Tears were flowing, but America did not cry because it was over, they smiled because it happened. Saint Peter’s had a cinderella run, but it all went downhill from there.
A Completely Different Team
Seemingly minutes after the Saint Peter’s season came to an end, everyone knew changes were inevitable. The biggest change came just days later when head coach Shaheen Holloway accepted the coaching gig at his alma mater, Seton Hall. The constant speculation reigned true, and a fantastic run in March led Holloway to his old roots at Seton Hall. Change did not stop with Holloway.
Typically you may have hard feelings in a situation like this, but fans and players alike were happy for the new Big East coach. Holloway brought assistant coaches Ryan Whalen and Rasheen Davis with him to join the Pirates. April 5 is when things got worse, as the top three guards on the Saint Peter’s entered the transfer portal. Edert, Matthew Lee, and Daryl Banks III decided it was time to find new homes.
Following the three guards, the Drame twins also went sought after new schools as well. Freshman Clarence Rupert–and the future of this Peacock team–followed in the footsteps of his older teammates. Finally, KC Ndefo chose not to pursue the NBA and followed coach Holloway to Seton Hall.
That right there is worse turnover than your local McDonald’s, and this may have just been a once and a lifetime experience for the college out of Jersey City.
What’s Next for Saint Peter’s?
The first change with Saint Peter’s was hiring a new head coach to replace the scrappy Shaheen Holloway. Bashir Mason was the man chosen to fill the void. He is a Jersey City native and was a successful coach at Wagner winning three conference titles.
Run Baby Run Arena will feature a lot of new faces in the 2022-23 season. With a new coach, two new assistants and seven transfers, Saint Peter’s is unlikely to replicate their 2022 run.
Will the bench players step up and carry what Holloway left, or were the Saint Peter’s Peacocks a one-hit wonder? Regardless of what we find the answer to be, the Peacock’s will be remembered as one of the favorite Cinderella stories in the history of college basketball.