Herb Pope finishes strong around the rim against St. Peter's, Saturday night. Photo credit: Nicole DeBiase
Before I recap tonight's tilt, I'd like to take a moment to thank the kind folks at SOJ for having me as a guest writer. I've admired their tireless efforts and quality outputs for a long time, and I'm thrilled to now be a small part of it. There, I said it, now please allow me a moment while I grab a ShamWow to wipe my tears away due to my effusive prose...
...and; I'm back.
Seton Hall defeated St. Peter's 63-54 Saturday night at The ROCK. In the second half, Seton Hall gritted it out and played well enough to grab the W, improving to 5-1 on the season. With this win, Seton Hall now moves to 60-23 all time against The Peacocks, who fall to 1-4 on the season. The first half, frankly, was dreadful. With 5:55 left in the half, SHU had 11 points (to St. Peters' 20). Perhaps it was the tryptophan from the Thanksgiving turkey, or that Seton Hall was simply "unable to get up" for a team they have historically owned; regardless, nothing was working for the Pirates in the first frame. Interior play by Seton Hall was essentially nonexistent, as Pope seemed to hover around the 3-point line. Where was the JT-Pope inside-out play I expected to see?
Perimeter defense continues to be a problem for the Pirates; a major problem. After switching to zone, however, the Seton Hall defense looked more energized and was much more effective. Granted, that was helped by poor three point shooting by the Peacocks who shot a dismal 2-13, good for 15% on the night. If the Peacocks shot even moderately well, Seton Hall could (would?) have lost. Against Big East teams, this will not stand (I hope at least a few people get this Big Lebowski reference).
On the other side of the court, Seton Hall shot it from deep much better than in recent past home games. We all know Kevin Willard likes the three ball; his players shot a Hazelian 22 of them, netting 8, good for 42% on the night. Herb Pope looked like Reggie Miller on his first two 3 point attempts, but like Dennis Rodman on his 3rd. Speaking of Herb Pope, he was again dominant (mostly in the second half) scoring 16 points and grabbing 14 boards (a lot of second chance put-backs). Through six games this season, Pope is averaging an eye-popping 12 rebounds and 20 points. Tonight was his fifth double double in 6 tries, and while it's a relatively small sample (non conference games thus far) Pope has really been a man among children, and while the competition this year (while not Big East play) has been formidable unlike that of 2009. I'm not going to SAY that the NBA may be back in the mix for Pope; but I'm thinkin' it (assuming, of course, there is a league).
Willard has spoken about Fuquan Edwin being the "X-Factor" and it appears as though he was right... again. It's been said on SOJ before, but with guys like Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore accounting for 2/5 of the line-up (love me some fractions) Edwin largely flies under the radar. Tonight, again, Fu had a solid game with 14 points and 5 steals. Maybe "under the radar" isn't really a fair phrase at this point, but I kind of feel like he's the Toni Kukoc of this year's team (brace for backlash of responses); he's the steady and unsung hero complimenting two other big name players. Now, imagine if Auda really gets it going?
Auda, as a matter of fact, played a very well balanced game tonight. The ejection against VCU seems to have really rattle him, but it's nice to see that he appears to have moved on. He likes to bang down low, and he contributed 12 points and 6 mostly hard fought rebounds for an excellent overall effort, especially taking a charge in the 2nd half which clearly pumped up the bench and fans alike.
Finally, the Captain, Jordan Theodore. JT had 13 points and dished out 10 assists. Those are some sexy numbers, no question, but the reality is that Theodore didn't play a typical Theodore-type game. In fact, he looked like he was either exhausted or injured and played tentative. It's very unlike Theodore to turn the ball over in the waining moments of a hard fought and tight game like he did. He just didn't seem to have the typical drive, passion, and fearless protection of the basketball we've expected from him.
Finally, there were dozens in attendance tonight. It reminded me of a Yogi Berra-ism, "If people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody's gonna stop 'em." Actually, the attendance wasn't that bad, but the black curtains were only closed behind the baskets, so the stadium looked massive and relatively empty. Hats off to the student section for coming out on a holiday weekend and making some noise. Kevin Willard has assembled a really fun team to watch, and next Friday's match-up with SEC member Auburn University (3-0) should be a great opportunity for Pirate Nation to come out in force.
As always, Hazard Zet Forward!