I will only post three thoughts today, since this is a combination article due to the snowstorm up here in Jersey and the games being only 2 days apart.
First, the thoughts from the 69-61 loss to Richmond:
- Student Section callout
It was absolutely embarrassing on Sunday. I had more energy than the collective student section yesterday when I was sleeping the previous night. Not only that, but I WAS THE ONLY ONE STANDING UP WHEN THE BALL WAS IN PLAY. Here- check the video evidence. I'm the one in the Paul Gause #22 jersey and backwards blue cap.
Come ON, people. I was not the only student in the section (I know this for a fact). The rules are- when you sit in the student section, you STAND UP. Period. I went to the NJIT game with my dad the other night, and he stood up with me because that's what you do when you sit in the student section. For NO ONE but me to be standing is a downright embarrassment. I would support a move of the student section at this point- not because of potential incidents, but because a student fan base that has that little energy for such a crucial game doesn't deserve it.
- Playground Basketball
Ok, back to the actual game. The Pirates in the first half did a great job of being patient and getting good shots. Many of these shots were close to the basket, allowing the Pirates to shoot 57% from the field and garner 11 assists. The Pirates had a 5-point lead at the half because Richmond made plenty of 3-point shots against the Pirates' matchup zone, but those were the only shots they made. The Spiders, despite the 5 threes in the first half, shot just 12-30 (40%) in that half.
But then the Pirates stopped moving the ball. They had TWO assists in the second half. TWO. I had more assists in a pickup basketball game to 12 the other day than that. While it held off the Spiders for a while, for the last 8 minutes or so, Richmond upped their defensive intensity, and no Pirates even tried to make plays. Plenty of Pirates tried to score 1-on-1, but again, most of these attempts failed.
This is Division 1 basketball, not playground hoops. We saw the evidence that the Pirates can run offensive sets, can look for their teammates, and can make plays in those contexts. That makes the second half even more deplorable. The end result was the Pirates blowing their chance at an NCAA berth. Don't even talk about a possible one, guys. It's not happening with ZERO quality wins in their non-conference schedule.
Lost in the shuffle- Jeff Robinson had his best game of the year: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 0 threes attempted. That's the kind of line the Pirates need from Robinson this year, especially with Jeremy Hazell now potentially out for the year (see below).
It was revealed after the game that Jeremy Hazell was shot once following a failed attempted robbery in Harlem. Apparently, Hazell was walking home from a party when the incident occurred. Speaking strictly about Hazell's wrist injury after the game, he said that if it would affect his ability to "make money," as in, playing professionally after this season, then he wouldn't redshirt Hazell, but if it didn't, redshirting could remain a possibility. Regardless, the 6'5" senior is in the prayers of the South Orange Juice community and the Seton Hall community at large.
Big East play is here, and the Pirates (thankfully) get an easier schedule than the one they have been accustomed to the past few years. There are no West Virginia/Syracuse back-to-backs until a few weeks in. The Pirates open up with USF, Cincinnati and Louisville as their first three opponents. First up are the USF Bulls under head coach Stan Heath.
2010-11 record: 6-7
2009-10 record: 20-13 (9-9 Big East, 1st round NIT)
Key losses: Dominique Jones, Chris Howard, Mike Mercer, Alex Rivas
Key returnees: Augustus Gilchrist, Jarrid Famous, Ron Anderson, Jr., Jawanza Poland (transfer), Hugh Robertson (transfer), Anthony Crater
No one meant more to his team in Division 1 basketball last season than Dominique Jones did to USF. Now that he's gone, drafted into the NBA by the Dallas Mavericks, the USF offense has stalled a bit. JUCO transfer Jawanza Poland and returning forward Augustus Gilchrist are tied for the team scoring lead at just 10.8 PTS. The Bulls also turn the ball over at a rate of just under 17 per game while forcing under 12 per game, so they struggle in the turnover margin department.
The Bulls also don't shoot the ball well- they are making shots at a clip of 42% from the field and 30% from deep. Poland, who has shot the ball almost 40 more times than any other Bull, is shooting under 39% for the year. But as Voodoo Five stated in their interview with South Orange Juice, Poland's athleticism is "off the charts" and can finish inside while contributing on the defensive end as well.
The strength of this team is its inside players, with Gilchrist and Jarrid Famous, as well as Kansas State transfer Ron Anderson, Jr. providing strong post play. Gilchrist has struggled a bit this year, especially from the free throw line (52.5 percent on 40 attempts), but he's still a very skilled big that the Pirates will have to pay attention to. Famous is a physical big man whom the Pirates once targeted, and while he hasn't blocked many shots this year, he still contributes off of offensive rebounds to the tune of 9.3 PTS/5.7 REB. Anderson is the same way- over half of his 70 total rebounds are offensive rebounds. He is the team's leading rebounder at 8.5 REB along with his 8.9 PTS.
Hugh Robertson is the team's most consistent deep threat, shooting it at 35% from beyond the arc.
PIRATES WILL WIN IF:
- They force the Bulls to commit turnovers and convert off those chances.
- They rebound on the defensive boards. The Bulls get a lot of second chance opportunities from Famous and Anderson crashing the offensive boards, so the Pirates need to rebound the basketball off USF's misses.
- Herb Pope, Robinson and Patrik Auda match the presence of Gilchrist, Famous and Anderson.
BULLS WILL WIN IF:
- They are able to make shots from the field at a good clip.
- They control the paint.
- Anthony Crater can match Jordan Theodore. On paper, Theodore should win this matchup, so if Crater can equal Theodore or hold Jordan to a poor shooting percentage, the Bulls will be in good shape.
Other than DePaul or Rutgers, there really is no better opponent for this team right now to open up Big East play against. After the second-half disasters against Dayton and Richmond, the Pirates BADLY need a consistent effort against a team that, like Dayton, seems to have them overmatched on the boards, Seton Hall's weakest area. The Pirates did a good job on the boards against the Spiders, so hopefully that can continue the trend.