Boy was that a breath of fresh air.
The Pirates on Tuesday night at the Rock.... FINISHED A GAME! I was about ready to burst into a rendition of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus on the spot after the final buzzer sounded. Seton Hall took control when they previously had wilted, given the same situation in two consecutive games prior to this win. I, for one, am grateful for the effort.
The thoughts from the win over USF:
There were decidedly more students there Tuesday night, and although the first three rows of the section are now blocked off by a pretty ugly-looking tarp-ish blue banner, they stood up and were into the game for about half of it. The blocked shots and increased pace (not to mention some god-awful calls from the officials) woke them up a little bit more. By the end of it, the chants were frequent and the energy was there. Hopefully, this continues into the Syracuse game, because the students are the only thing that keeps SHU-SU games from turning into full-fledged Syracuse home games sometimes.
- KEON SIGHTING
The story of the night was Lawrence's emergence. He looked better than he's ever looked in a Pirate uniform. He was aggressive, focused, and just looked like a different player. He missed two layups, but other than that, he was great, whether on the top of the Pirate zone defense or on the offensive end where he was a determined player. He made a circus layup in the final minute that iced the game and got the entire crowd going. It was one of those plays that the Pirates didn't make in the Dayton or Richmond games. And it was fantastic to see out of a player who has looked distracted on the court for much of his Seton Hall tenure.
- Confidence-builder, not resume-builder
As much as it was relieving to see this win, keep in mind that USF is one of the bottom feeders in the Big East. Their guards aren't exactly Big East caliber, and the Pirates didn't really have to defend them for most of the game. The double-double from Herb Pope (12 PTS/ 13 REB) was great because it came against quality post players, but by no means is this a meaningful resume win. Without Jeremy Hazell, the game was most certainly not a gimme. With Hazell, this is a team that the Pirates should have beaten by 15 or more. Good win? Yes. Great win? Nope.
- Robinson's Threes
After I praised him for slapping up a 17-10 with no threes in the Richmond game, he took 5 threes in this game and made only one. I hope I don't have to say this many more times- the Pirates have almost zero depth inside. Robinson shooting threes takes him away from rebounding, where Seton Hall needs him most. I shouldn't have to spell it out, but apparently I do.
- Upcoming schedule
Next up for the Pirates are a couple of road dates with Cincinnati and Louisville. Cincy is loaded in the frontcourt, while Louisville is loaded at the wings and up-tempo. Both games will be tough and both teams are much better than the USF team Pirate fans saw tonight. If this team can stay in games until 5 minutes remaining against the middle-of-the-pack teams like the Bearcats and Cardinals, they will have opportunities to close out. Last night they finished the Bulls large in part to Lawrence and Herb Pope converting at the free throw line. Can they do it again? We will soon see.
On a side note, Hazell was back on the bench Tuesday night. He did an excellent job at cheering on his teammates and even did some coaching at the under 4 media timeout of the second half. He gathered the Pirates around and coached 'em up. I really hope he can return next season if they decide to redshirt him. He has turned into a joy to watch on the court, regardless of what he is doing.