Darius Conley (above) and St. Peter's renew their annual rivalry at Prudential Center tonight. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Coming off a nice bounce-back win over Yale on Tuesday, the Pirates look to follow up their turkey dinners with a nice roasted Peacock dish, as they host longtime in-state rival St. Peter's at the Rock beginning at 8 PM.
Here's all you need to know about this year's Seton Hall- St. Peter's tilt:
2011-12 record: 1-3
All- time series record: 59-23
Last meeting: 11/29/10 (SHU 69-49)
The Pirates and Peacocks are very familiar with each other, having played 82 times, good for the most of any non-Big East opponent for Seton Hall. Two seasons ago, the Pirates escaped what would have been a crushing loss to the Peacocks thanks to Eugene Harvey's buzzer-beater. Last year, however, although Seton Hall won their 15th straight over their rivals from Jersey City, it was St. Peter's that did the crushing.
The Peacocks used a strong defensive effort to win the MAAC Tournament, upsetting current Providence coach Ed Cooley and the favored Fairfield Stags in the process, and made the NCAA Tournament, falling to Purdue in the first round.
This season they are rebuilding. Last year's success was built on the core of seniors Nick Leon, Ryan Bacon, Jeron Belin, and Wesley Jenkins. Those guys are all gone this year, so John Dunne's squad has to look to others for answers.
Leading the way in that regard is junior forward Darius Conley. He scored 15 PTS along with 7 REB in his first action of the year in St. Peter's last game (a win over Binghamton) and he's a good defender and rebounder who will have to step up down low. Running the point are junior Yvon Raymond and senior Brandon Hall. Raymond is also averaging 7.5 REB, but my guess is that he stepped up when Conley missed the first two games.
Taking over for Jenkins at shooting guard is St. Joe's transfer Chris Prescott, backed up by Blaise Ffrench. Prescott is basically the only three point threat on this team, making 37% on 59 tries so far this season from range. Freshman Lamin Fulton has also shot the ball decently this year.
Down low, the Peacocks also have senior forward Jack Hill along with junior college transfer Karee Ferguson. Ferguson is averaging a nice 8 PTS and 5.5 REB along with 2 BLK as a member of the Peacock's starting rotation.
The St. Peter's defense has been pretty good this season, but they haven't faced anyone near the caliber of the Pirates yet. They have also had major problems scoring the ball this year, shooting under 40% from the field, under 30% from deep, and just over 60% from the free throw line.
Seton Hall will win if:
- They can run the offense. Two years ago, St. Peter's harassed the Pirates into playing their style of drag-you-through-the-mud basketball and it nearly worked. Last year, the Pirates and Peacocks didn't shoot the ball well either, but 15 forced turnovers, a 17-1 edge in second chance points and a 32-14 edge in the paint allowed Seton Hall to prevail. This year, St. Peter's doesn't have the offensive weapons to keep up. If the Pirates run their offense well, they should win this one going away.
St. Peter's could win if:
- They stick to the plan. No doubt the plan for the Peacocks and coach Dunne is to defend as best they can and try to force their style onto the Pirates again. It almost worked two years ago, and free opportunities given away cost them last year. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what SPC wants to do in this game. And because of their lack of scoring options this year, it will need to be even more so for the Peacocks to pull this one off.