Seton Hall Basketball: Final - Seton Hall 69, St. Peter's 49 as Improved Offense Propels Pirates Past Peacocks

-Call it a new look offense or call it an adjusted offensive game plan, call it what you will, but it's clear that Kevin Willard's offense put forth a more balanced and efficient offense (especially in the second half), than what we witnessed in St. Thomas. The Pirates finished the night on 40% shooting from the floor, far from outstanding, but far better than the 20-29 percentages they were consistently throwing up like their afternoon lunch.

-The execution was sloppy at times and in the first ten minutes of the game it appeared as we were in store for more of the same. The Pirates came out with a lack of offensive sets. Their possessions consisted of keeping the ball away from the post, instead of pounding the rock inside. On their early possessions, the Pirates would swing the ball around the perimeter before settling for a jump shot in another array of poor shot selections. The Pirates continued to fire ridiculous 3PT attempts at will to a tune of 2-of-10 to start the game.

-After the half, the Pirates started to go inside and for the most part, they finished strong around the rim when the opportunity presented itself. Despite shooting just 3-of-10 on the night, Herb Pope added 8PTS/8REB and as a positive, he only attempted a single 3PT attempt tonight. Jeff Robinson made 1-of-3 from downtown, but finished 3-of-5 from inside the arc, finishing his night with 10PTS/7REB/STL. I'm convinced if he stripped the 3PT attempt from his repertoire, he'd shoot close to 60% from the floor. One thing of note, I didn't agree with Willard keeping him on the floor with 3 PFs and 16:00 to go in the second half. JRob picked up his 4th before we even hit the 15th minute mark. Luckily for the Pirates this decision will go largely unnoticed after tonight's laugher. Still, I found it odd that Robinson was on the floor with the Pirates leading by 12 and 3/4s of the half remaining.  I'm not sure what Willard's thought process was in that decision, but he's got to be more careful with his bigs in foul trouble going forward. Ferrakohn Hall also put forth an improved performance tonight finishing a powerful dunk and a layup, going baseline wrapping his night up with 4PTS/4REB(2OFF).

-I'm giving tonight's Gonzo Ball to Patrik Auda, who was called upon to start and contribute in any way possible. Auda came through, although the stat line will not do his performance justice. Patrik played tough defense over 22 minutes, drew a charge, made a nice block, added a steal and stroked an ugly 3PT shot that put the Pirates up by 10 after SPC pulled within 7 early in the 2nd half. Auda showed no hesitation fighting down low as he ripped down 5 boards, 2 of them on the offensive end. It was an all around terrific performance by Patrik Auda and his play tonight keeps me excited in continuing to watch him work and develop throughout the season.

-Eniel Polynice received the nod at the point tonight and contributed a rather balanced effort dropping 7PTS/4REB/4AST on 3-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes. After the game, Kevin Willard stated that Jordan Theodore didn't start so he could, "see the flow" and the benching wasn't due to punishment. Food for thought, Willard also told us Keon's benching in the Pirates exhibition was a, "coach's decision, nothing more, nothing less." Nevertheless, a clearly inspired and fired up Jordan Theodore was the spark plug for the Pirates in the first half dropping 11PTS on 5-of-9 shooting in the first 20 minutes. JT would only take one more shot in the second half and ended his night with just 11PTS, adding 3AST/1TO.

-The effort out of Keon Lawrence tonight was the play we've been expecting all season after reading report after report of his offseason improvement. He looked the best tonight as we've seen him play all season. Yes, he did miss a layup and he only shot 2-of-5, but he did hit a nice 12 foot jumper from the wing after a nice stutter-step to shake his defender. He also finished a difficult reverse layup that left me saying, "wow, he finished?!" Most importantly, Lawrence took care of the ball to the tune of ZERO TOs. He also had several nice finds, finishing the game with 5AST/3REB/BLK. His block came on a nice block/outlet pass/assist sequence. Throughout the offseason and beginning of the season, I've been waiting for Keon to contribute with a performance (or two, or three) like tonight's. The Pirates don't need him to carry the load (although with Hazell out, occasional 10PT games would be a thing of beauty), but they do need him to take care of the ball in JT's absence. If Lawrence can continue to take care of the ball, play strong defense and not shoot himself off of the floor, there will be plenty of room for him to contribute this season. I will not get overly excited off of one nice performance, consistency is the key(ON).

-Not to be lost in the improved offensive performance was the continued strong play of Kevin Willard's defense. The Pirates M/2/M, press and 2-3 zone forced the Peacocks into committing 14 TOs. When SPC tried to set their offense they often found themselves taking terrible shot attempts which led to just 34% shooting from the floor and 10% from beyond the arc. Of course, SPC also had their fair share of open looks which they badly bricked. How much of their 34% shooting can be attributed to having a team consisting of absolutely awful jump shooters is up for debate. For tonight anyway, the Pirates defensive effort continues to impress.

-The Pirates are out of action until December 8th when they will travel to Louisville for the BIG EAST/SEC invitational, taking the Arkansas Razorbacks on a neutral floor. Check back tomorrow for JP's analysis and five thoughts.

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