With the loss to Virginia Tech in Cancun Saturday night, Seton Hall has now dropped three in a row and four in five games. Each of these games were winnable for the Pirates as they gave West Virginia and Syracuse trouble at the Rock and could have beaten both Temple and Va Tech. However, you don't make the NCAA Tournament with good efforts in losses (and Saturday's game I question their first-half effort). Add the fact that the non-conference schedule was a box of cupcakes and you clearly have to be concerned if this team has any hope to be playing deep in March.
During the unbeaten streak to start the season, aside from the near-debacle against St. Peters, the Pirates proved to be a top scoring team and for once, didn't lose games that they shouldn't be, unlike past years against the James Madison's and IUPUI's of the world. They finally have talent up front with Herb Pope and have depth now with all the transfers Bobby Gonzalez recruited playing. I think we can all agree that when we saw Seton Hall win the "How Is That Not a Foul?" Game in Cornell, that they looked impressive against a good team in a tough environment.
Now, the schedule has become tougher and while teasing us in these games, ultimately the same problems exist for this team: inconsistent FG shooting and poor FT shooting. The free throw shooting is inexcusable, especially from guys like Jordan Theodore and Jamel Jackson. Despite the fact we always look at the missed free throws as make-or-break, good teams can overcome that weakness. They can't, however, overcome poor offensive efficiency, especially in the Big East, where defensive play still rules. Shooting below 40 percent will not cut it in Big East play, no matter how many opportunities you get because of your defense. That's the rub for a team that likes to pressure; they need to hit their shots. Otherwise, you don't score as much as the press will give up. And that's precisely what we are seeing from Seton Hall.
Tonight, the Pirates head up to Storrs to face UConn, followed by an absolute must-win game (not saying UConn isn't) against Cincinnati at Newark Saturday night. It is a must-win because Seton Hall has only Cornell on the road to hang their hat on for a quality win and that's simply not enough. We knew they could be very good this year, now it's time to prove it.