After a terrible performance against Georgetown, Seton Hall played the first half much better against Louisville back at home. Offensively, the Pirates haven't played this well since Big East play started as they shot 59 percent from the floor and moved the ball as well as they have all season. They played mediocre defense against a lesser Cardinals squad from last year's Big East champs, though picked their spots and forced the usual turnovers. The best thing you can say about the Pirates in the half was they didn't have the lulls that have typified this team all season long. It was a 40 minute effort, which the Pirates looked for good shots and crashed the boards as well as they have all year.
-Last week, I wondered if Seton Hall was capable of starting fast, instead of going down early and burning an early timeout, before frantically trying to comeback. Tonight, the Pirates started the game with a 12-4 run, causing Rick Pitino to call the early timeout.
-Jeremy Hazell played an entirely different half tonight than his game down in D.C. Last week, Hazell only cared about shooting. Tonight, his all-around game is much better with 3REB/1AST/2STL. He scored 15PTS and took his circus shots, but he's been hitting them, shooting 6 for 7, and 3 for 4 behind the arc.
-For once, Herb Pope was able to avoid foul trouble, scoring 10PTS/5REB, however, that doesn't begin to state his impact on the floor. His fellow big, Jeff Robinson, was also superb, scoring 6PTS/4REB.
-One of the issues facing Seton Hall in recent weeks has been their point guard play. Tonight, Keon Lawrence, Jordan Theodore and Eugene Harvey have all played well in spurts. Lawrence set the tone early, playing the role of facilitator on offense, though his 3PTS/AST don't tell his story. Theodore picked up the slack when Lawrence got into foul trouble, using his speed to make plays on both sides of the ball, adding 8PTS/2AST. Harvey would finish the half, adding 2REB/2AST. Late in the quarter, Harvey drove the lane with the shot-clock winding down and instead of going for a tough layup, he found an open Pope for the two. Smart play by all three PGs.
-Louisville has tried to press the Pirates, but it hasn't worked at all, which is not a huge surprise since Seton Hall sees the press everyday in practice. Meanwhile, the Pirates haven't pressed as much, picking their spots and making plays when they did.
-The Cardinals did shoot 54 percent from the field, but they were only 2 for 6 from three, while Seton Hall was 5 for 10 behind the arc. Free throws also tell the story as Seton Hall is outshooting them at the stripe 88% to 55%. Even Pope made both of his free throws.
-The crowd looks weaker than it was in the West Virginia game. Unfortunately, I can barely hear the student section with the ESPN telecast.
-As long as the Pirates can continue playing well in the half-court, they should be able to hang on here. Enjoy the second half.