The men's basketball team arrived in Cancun, Mexico yesterday in preparation of Saturday's contest with Virginia Tech. SHU Athletics with their preview of the action:
SETON HALL - VIRGINIA TECH SERIES
Seton Hall and Virginia Tech have continued this young rivalry despite the fact that the Hokies have been gone from the BIG EAST since the 2003-04 season. This will be the third meeting in the last four seasons, all of which played at neutral sites. The Pirates have won four of five all-time meetings including their most recent match-up, a 77-73 victory at the 2008 O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan last season.
SBN Syracuse blogger, Sean Keeley, with a final look at Tuesday night's showdown with the Orange:
Credit to Jeremy Hazell, who scored 38 on the Orange, the the eighth-highest total ever against Syracuse. Then again, dude shot the ball 31 times (!), including 15 three-point attempts. You BETTER score 38 points if you're gonna do that. Only one other Pirate scored in double-figures (Pope, 15). The Pirates decided to try and live or die by Hazell's shot and unfortunately for them it wasn't enough.
That's twice in two games the Pirates went, "live-or-die by the Hazell." Not only is the reference an ode to my Dunkin Donuts addiction, but the Seton Hall game plan has certainly hurt the team in it's first two Big East Conference games. Is it a trend? Or is it an alarming coincidence that only Hazell and Pope can get into double-digits against stiff competition? Looking back at the non-conference schedule, Seton Hall was 2nd in the nation in scoring when they regularly had three, four, or five of their teammates in double figures every night. Those nights are long gone, at least for now.
Brendan Prunty of the Star-Ledger provides his Q&A's game-balls and suicides in response to Tuesday's loss against the Orange:
The absence of forward Robert Mitchell is becoming noticeable. After helping a short-handed Seton Hall tremendously last season by getting beaten up playing the 4-spot, Mitchell has become a virtual non-factor. For the third straight game, he played less than 15 minutes with his three total minutes being the lowest of his Seton Hall career. Even more mind-boggling: he scored 37 points on 45 percent shooting in two games last year against Syracuse. Think that wouldn't have helped Tuesday night?
I couldn't agree with Prunty more in regards to Mitchell. He played so well over the course of the non-conference schedule that I had assigned him the moniker, "Mr. Consistency." He was constantly filling up a well-balanced stat sheet and now suddenly, his opportunities are gone? It started the night against Navy, his playing time was slashed to only 14 minutes. Gonzo was trying to find balance for his squad in a laugher, but still, 14 minutes? Against WVU, he was stripped of his starting job and relegated to the bench. No problem, he'll come off the bench, play a six man role and see heavy minutes, correct? Wrong. Mitchell saw 11 minutes! Outplayed by Ferrakohn Hall. All respect to Hall, I respect him as a player and have even clamored for him to see more playing time this season, but in no way should he be seeing more time than Robert Mitchell against WVU.
What's going on Bobby? When I was wondering if something was going on behind the scenes that saw Stix into Gonzo's doghouse, the Syracuse game might have been a good indication. Mr. Consistency, the man that can do a bit of everything, jack of all trades, master of none, basically received a DNP-CD against Syracuse. Ok, he saw 3 minutes of action, but seriously, Jamel Jackson had now taken Mitchell's spot in the starting lineup, has Bobby Given up on him? What indication was he given to make that decision? His 1-of-8 shooting against Temple? Could that be it? We've seen every player on this team have a horrendous night or two shooting the rock, I certainly hope that isn't the case. Get Stix back in the lineup, we know what he's going to bring, night-in, night-out. Bobby seems to be playing favorites a bit with Jeff Robinson, but after two straight losses, hopefully he'll bring a little consistency back to the starting five.
We can stop using the phrase, "moral victories," as Seton Hall isn't satisfied with losing close games, writes Mike Vorkunov of NewJerseyNewsRoom:
"There's no consolation in losing in overtime by six, losing [Tuesday night] by seven," coach Bobby Gonzalez said after the game. "You can't say well it's great we're coming close. They're losses. We need to win one. We wanted to steal one of these."
They didn't, despite making it eminently clear that the games had more meaning to the team than just wins and losses, perception and self-substantiation were on the line.
Gary Cohen's color commentator, Dave Popkin, with a must-read "where are they now" look at former Seton Hall PIrates:
Grant Billmeier - After playing pro basketball for a season in Germany, Grant is now an assistant basketball coach for the #1 ranked high school team in the country, his alma mater St. Patrick's (Elizabeth). He is looking to break into college coaching in the future.
Donald Copeland - "The Donald" joined me on our halftime radio show last night. He is playing professionally in Bosnia for Bosna ASA BH Telecom in the Adriatic League. Through seven games, Copeland is averaging 10.1 points, 3.7 assists, and 2.7 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Seton Hall is next in action against Virginia Tech tomorrow night at 7:30EST from Cancun, Mexico.