It was the first time the public was able to see this year's edition of the Seton Hall Pirates. It's the start to a new season, and you could tell that everyone was an analyst in the crowd at Walsh Gym. Who looks good? Who needs work? How well are they playing, and how hard? Today was a little bit of a preview for Pirate fans, and I was in the crowd as well, analyzing to my heart's desire. The teams were split into Blue (Jeff Robinson, Jamel Jackson, Eniel Polynice, Aaron Geramipoor, Darnell Gatling, Jordan Theodore) and White (Jeremy Hazell, Herb Pope, Ferrakohn Hall, Fuquan Edwin, Anali Okoloji, Patrik Auda, Keon Lawrence). Okoloji switched sides at halftime.
Here are the particulars of the afternoon:
- Herb Pope's unselfishness
Pope, who got a very good ovation when he was introduced, was looking to find his teammates every time he touched the ball. He must have had 5-6 assists total. Also, he looks bigger than he was last season (especially in his upper body). That's a good thing, because it will help him bang with some of the big guys in the Big East when the game slows down into the halfcourt (more on this later).
- Jeremy Hazell's leadership
Exhibiting why he was selected tri-captain (along with Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson), he certainly acted the part, directing his team on the floor, calling out defensive plays, and just showing confidence in that ability to lead. I think he also led all scorers in the scrimmage, but he got his points slashing to the basket, not solely from 3-pointers or jumpers. Included in these were a couple of dunks over the 6'11" Geramipoor, showing off some improved athleticism. He's primed for a big year.
- Freshmen being Freshmen
Geramipoor, Edwin, and Okoloji had their moments, but they did show their youth a bit. Edwin was bouncy and eager, but needs a little work on his jumper. Okoloji is the opposite- he showed some nice touch driving to the basket, but could be more athletic. Geramipoor got dunked on twice by Hazell and was eager on defense, although he needs some work getting back to his man when he defends the screen-and-roll (something both teams ran often). The coaching staff is thinking about redshirting Geramipoor, and after today, I don't think anyone would disagree with that decision. He needs to get stronger to compete at the Big East level.
Patrik Auda was in uniform, but did not play. He didn't exhibit any signs of any serious injury, but I don't know why he sat out. Perhaps it will surface in the coming days.
- Polynice's defense/team defense
Part of the reason that Hazell wasn't able to get hardly any looks from the great beyond was the adhesive defense of Polynice. He's top-2 on the team in that category at least from what I saw. He challenged, he closed the space, he stayed in front. He can't really shoot, but he will definitely get minutes for Willard with that kind of defense. He seemed to sprain his ankle in the second half and left the game, but I don't think it's too serious.
As a team, the Pirates were eager and energetic for the most part. The big men showed high and hard on nearly all screens, which is a good sign with how many players in the conference can burn you on that play if the defender goes under the screen. This was Geramipoor's best aspect today- he was great in hedging out on the screens. He just didn't always find his man again.
- Theodore and Lawrence
Both point guards played well, especially Theodore, who showed off a really complete game. He can definitely make a jump shot now in addition to a rock-solid handle and toughness on the dribble drive. Oh yeah, and his defense is up there with Polynice, at least at his position. He could have a huge year now that he's the starting point guard.
Lawrence looks better right now than he did all of last year. He didn't score much, but he was unselfish on offense and his usual self on defense- pesky is a word that comes to mind.
- Ferrakohn Hall's improvement
Hall was one of the best players on the floor on Saturday, if not the best. He not only out-played Jeff Robinson (getting the senior into foul trouble- if fouls were tabulated), but he hit two 3-pointers, demonstrating a HUGE improvement in that department. He has also bulked up (think Herb Pope from last season with a little more muscle) and got himself several dunks in transition.
- Half-court offense
It was basically a half-court game with a transition play here and there, a contrast from the up-and-down style of Bobby Gonzalez. So let's just say I don't expect so much running and gunning this year. The execution of the new offense worked well, but it still needs some work. Sometimes, players were a little unsure of where to be on the floor. Oh, and expect to see a lot of high screens and rolls. The Pirates must have run one on every possession in the halfcourt.