It wasn't pretty, save for one player's performance, for Seton Hall, but thanks to the Pirate D, it wasn't pretty for the Demon Deacons either. Seton Hall improved to 8-1 on the year (number of people who predicted that start: zero) with a 14-point win over one of the bottom-feeders of the ACC. It wasn't a given W, but it wasn't all that difficult either.
Here are the 5 Thoughts from Saturday night in Newark:
- #MVPope, again
Herb Pope had another huge double-double (it's becoming almost routine now), this one featuring 26 PTS on 8-9 shooting (although just 9-14 from the free throw line) and 14 REB with 1 AST and 1 BLK. Not as impressive or loaded as some of his lines this season, but it was one of the more significant ones because he carried the Pirates to victory as a constant post presence on the offensive end. He was a large reason why the Pirates shot 8-10 on two pointers in the first half, and his 15 second half points allowed the Pirates to maintain their margin. If you combine the total rebounding of the Deacons' frontcourt, Pope equaled it.
- Odd Pace
Neither team could really figure the other out completely for most of the game, resulting in it being a little close for much of the first half and some of the middle-late second half. The difference was the Pirates' three point buckets, which seemed to all come at critical times when the score had either remained the same for a while or when Wake looked like they had a little more confidence. That's not to say that Seton Hall shot the ball well in this game from the perimeter, but every three they had was a big three. It was an odd game in terms of flow, but hey- a win is a win.
- Stretching Out
The Pirates played well in the middle of both halves to win this game, as the beginnings belonged to Wake, and the ends belonged to no one in particular. It's the ends that gave me a little concern. The Deacons started pressing near the end of both halves, and in the first half, the lineup on the floor did not include Pope, Aaron Cosby (who had a quiet night) or Fuquan Edwin (14 PTS, 6 REB, his usual ninja-line). That left Wake Forest with an obvious decision- key on Jordan Theodore, the lone scoring threat on the floor at that time, and Theodore forced a couple shots in this time. It was brought up on Hall Line that if the offense runs through Pope (which it does), who is responsible for it when Pope is off the floor? We got a little glimpse of that down the stretch of the first half, and therefore that's the next step for this team. If Pope is off the floor because of foul trouble, etc..., they need to find an alternate route to scoring points. Tonight, the defense was enough, but come conference play, it won't be on most nights.
- Birthday Boy
It was Jordan Theodore's unofficial birthday celebration (his birthday is actually today), and it was a different night for the senior point guard. He only had 4 AST and scored 14 PTS. It's different than his previous lines because Wake Forest was seemingly playing him for the kickout when he got in the lane. That left some Garden State Parkway-sized lanes to the rim, and Theodore took them. I've really never seen any defense play anyone for the pass. Theodore, luckily, is smart- when he saw the holes, he didn't force the out passes. The Pirates in general took good care of the ball, giving it away only 7 times in this game.
The Pirates now get some rest with a week between games. Of course, it coincides with finals week here at Seton Hall, but in basketball terms, the Pirates can rest up. That's before a pretty brutal stretch of 3 games in 6 days (home to Mercer, @ Dayton 3 days later, @ Longwood 2 days after that) including the first two true road games of the year for the young team. Brandon Mobley should be coming back at some point in that stretch (or so I assume) which will make things easier, but that Dayton game will be really tough. They get 4 days between that stretch and their next game surrounding the Christmas holiday. And that game just happens to be at Syracuse, who may be the #1-ranked team in the nation by that point. The Pirates should use this week off to their advantage. Their bodies will thank them later.