The Peanut Gallery cheers on their fellow Pirates en route to a 64-55 victory against South Florida on Tuesday night in Newark, NJ. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
I was able to catch 20 minutes of decent Seton Hall basketball. Seton Hall made some nice runs, but South Florida did a good job of stemming the momentum of these mini surges. Seton Hall did an equally good job of keeping South Florida at bay down the stretch instead of their text book collapses. You have to take into account the quality of opponent, but nonetheless Seton Hall came away with their first Big East win of the season, and the first of Kevin Willard's head coaching career. Congrats Kevin!
- Herb Pope's second half - As I sat down in my seat last night, the PA announcer was reading off the first half stats. Herb Pope stuck out with a measly 0 points and 5 boards. Fortunately for Pirate fans, he was inspired by my late arrival to The Rock and posted 12 points and 8 boards in the second half. He also made some clutch free throws after bricking the first two he took. It was Herb's second double - double of the season.
- The play of Keon Lawrence - A very solid showing was capped off by a clutch shot to extend the lead to 7 with :49 to play in the game. Lawrence did a little bit of everything last night, except what he seems to do the most: turn the ball over. Lawrence accumulated 10PTS/2AST/2STL, He hit 3 of 4 free throws and made a three pointer. More of this needs to be seen from Lawrence in the absence of Jeremy Hazell.
- Rebounding - Despite a depleted front court, a zone defense at times, and a size disadvantage, the Pirates matched USF in rebounding, 30-30. On the offensive boards, USF only had one more than Seton Hall (9 to 8). Although Jeff Robinson only tallied 4 boards (I'd like 6-8 out of him), it looked like Seton Hall more than held their own against a tough rebounding opponent (52nd in nation, according to ESPN).
- Jamel Jackson - I don't like to single out players, but Jackson simply hasn't lived up to what Hall fans, or at least what I thought he needed to be. After tonight, his 3PT% dipped to 35%. Even more disheartening is that he hasn't hit a 3PT shot since the NJIT game; He is 0-7 since that game. Jackson only played 11 minutes tonight, and does seem to be expanding his offensive game, but he isn't, and hasn't been, the deadly 3PT shooter he was hyped up to be. This is not some type of revelation that I just had, but its something that has been exposed by Hazell's injury. Jackson is going to have to raise his game to another level, or Keon Lawrence and Eniel Polynice need to play more consistently to fill the two-guard spot.
- USF's 3PT Ability - Ouch. I didn't get to check out South Florida's stats prior to the game, but it makes sense. The Bulls were shooting 30% from beyond the arc coming into the game. South Florida went 1-10 from three and I can't recall them even attempting a three in the second half. Its pretty clear that South Florida's biggest weakness is the ability, (or lack thereof), of their guards to knock down shots. I would assume that this makes it a lot easier for teams to game plan against USF.
- Attendance - Listed as 6,022, but thats a bit generous. I'm sure a lot of fans will cite the weather, but it seems to be a different excuse every time. The Jets are playing, the Giants are playing, the weather, football is on TV, the opponents suck, etc. Guess what? The team you claim to be a fan of is also playing -- try supporting them. It just seems a bit odd when fans complain about recruiting. Playing in front of a sparse, lethargic crowd for at least a third of their games is probably not a turn on for recruits.
- Student section tarp - Well I guess a decision was handed down by the Big East on the new student section, or Seton Hall is trying to proactively appease them. The Big East obviously had problems with how close the students were to the visiting bench and their fans. Its impossible to move the entire section to behind the basket mid-season, so this looked like the only option. Its just a shame that SHU administration didn't look into this before they decided to move the student section... seems like common sense to me.
- Train delays - As I already hinted at, I missed the entire first half. Why? Well my train was around 45 minutes late. Instead of showing up in Newark at around 6:30, I pulled in around 7:20. Add in the brief walk to Prudential Center and the walk to my seat and that was about all she wrote. The closest I got to seeing the first half was hearing the Seton Hall fight song being played as I was on the escalator. Didn't look like the first half was a barn burner by any stretch. Oh well, at least I made it.