Roll. Bama. Blunder.
-Unbeknown to just about anyone, Anthony Grant refused to foul Jordan Theodore with the Pirates leading 81-78 and a 7 second differential from the shot clock to game clock. After Tony Mitchell finished one of his many athletic dunks on the night, the Tide pulled within 3 with 42 seconds to go.
For whatever reason, the Tide abandoned the press in the final 10 minutes of the game and the final 40 seconds of regulation followed suit. Alabama retreated into a half-court defense and Jordan Theodore smartly dribbled the clock away. With about 20 seconds remaining and the Alabama defense beginning to pressure, Jordan split the defense and sprinted to the tin.
After missing a contested lay-up attempt, the Tide tried to get the ball up court with 10 seconds remaining. Jeff Robinson, who made A TON of spectacular plays on defense, iced this one by intercepting the ball at half court dumping the ball to Hazell before he was fouled with 3 seconds remaining. Tap city.
-Despite the Tide scoring 12 fast-break points against a weak transition defense in the first half, Willard's group put forth a much stronger effort in the final 20 minutes. After giving up 44 points in the first half, the Pirates shored up and held the Tide to 34 in the second. The Pirates tightened things up defensively in the paint after the break, but still played too lax around the perimeter as the Tide often bombed away with ease, finishing 10-of-15 beyond the arc.
-Alabama committed 21 turnovers, however, out-rebounding the Pirates 35-to-25 kept the game close in a night where the Pirates often forgot to box out.
-Gonzo Ball of the night? Another split between Jeremy Hazell and Jeff Robinson. After beginning his night Hazell converted a four point play and you wondered if tonight was going to be another classic Hazell performance. It sure was. Finishing the first half on 4-of-5 3PT shooting, Hazell finished the game with 27PTS, hitting 5-of-6 from LONG distance and 6-of-12 from the floor, despite making only 10-of-16 FT attempts. Not to go unnoticed, through three games this year, Hazell continues to impress on the defensive end, adding 4 steals tonight, many of which helped to break up little 'Bama runs throughout the night.
-Jeff Robinson was simply spectacular in the USVI tonight. Did he continue to shoot 3PTs tonight? He sure did. Am I continuing to eat crow this season? I sure am. JRob added 2 more on 2-of-2 from downtown, he's now 4-of-5 on the season. After refusing to give up on the 3PT shot after rarely hitting it last season, it looks as if persistence is paying off. Robinson finished 7-of-9 for 16PTS, however only contributed 3REB. The low rebounding totals have been a worrisome trend for Robinson this season, although it's one I'm sure he'll snap out of and soon.
-Adding 11PTS tonight, Jordan Theodore and his heavily wrapped left leg seemed to be laboring for much of the night. He found himself in foul trouble early and opened the way for Keon Lawrence to see extended minutes tonight. Per usual, it wasn't pretty. Keon continues to disappoint, so much so that following one of his four turnovers, during a media timeout, a mic'd up Gary Cohen could be heard proclaiming, "He's not a point guard. He's just not a point guard. You might need to back up (with) Polynice, now."
Gary couldn't be more right. I'd love to know what the team's +/- was with Lawrence on the floor tonight. Keon finished 0-for-3 with 4TOs tonight in an all around awful game. At least last season we counted on Keon as a defensive stopper. No more. He's not getting back in defense, he's not making layups and he's certainly not hitting a jump shot. We haven't seen him hit a consistent jumper in his time here at Seton Hall so when he misses these layups at a consistent clip, it's extremely frustrating and disappointing. Lawrence is getting his knee drained once a week, however, it's time to start divvying up his minutes elsewhere, at least, until completely healthy.
-Herb Pope was held to 0PTS/0REB at the half, much of which he spent on the bench in foul trouble, however he came to play in the second half. He held his ground defensively and looked explosive on offense. First, he threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk going baseline against his defender. Later in the half, he missed a spinning hook attempt, but followed with what can only be described as a fluid, one-handed rebound and put back dunk. One motion, it left me speechless. It's especially great to see the explosiveness coming back to him in just his third game this season. He finished with 13PTS on the night.
-Jamel Jackson continues to make his push for the Pirates 6th man, adding 7PTS on 3-of-3 shooting, including another trey, his fifth on the season.
We'll have much more tomorrow as Seton Hall improves to 2-1 and will play Sunday at 9:00PM vs. Xavier.