The Seton Hall Pirates lost in embarrassing fashion to the Syracuse Orange on Wednesday night by a score of, 75-49. Of course, there's no shame losing to the #1 team in the nation, but that old adage doesn't hold true when you put forth the type of effort the Pirates rolled out this evening. The young Pirates were intimidated from the bright lights, the 30-thousand in attendance and the talent of their opponent from the opening tip. In a game that saw the Pirates shoot 19% from the floor in the first half and 32% on the evening, Seton Hall failed to get anything going offensively. If it weren't for two desperation heaves from Jordan Theodore, the Pirates would have found themselves trailing 20-6 at the 7 minute mark in the first half.
Did Seton Hall not prepare for the 2-3 zone? Were they expecting something else? The lackadaisical effort against the Orange defense was inexcusable and it has to start with Kevin Willard. What were these guys prepared for? How did they fail in even attempting to attack the zone in the first half? The first screen that was set didn't come until 12 minutes into the game. The first attempt at splitting the perimeter defenders wasn't until the second half when Herb Pope was able to successfully. Jordan Theodore did split the zone occasionally in the second, but it mattered little at that point.
If you want a recap of Seton Hall's offense in the first half, here it is: swing ball around the perimeter, pass back to the top of the key, lazy entry pass to the elbow, turnover. If you think it's an over exaggeration, it isn't. The Pirates turned the ball over 15 times in the first half to just three assists. They "improved" those numbers slightly in the second finishing with 23 turnovers-to-12 assists, but only in garbage time as the Orange led by 30+ for much of the final half.
Outside of the inexcusably poor effort put forth by the Pirates, the story of the night was Syracuse's sophomore center, Fab Melo. Fabulous he was, Melo only failed to record a triple-double because Boeheim planted him on the bench with about 10 minutes to play and a ridiculous stat line of 12pts/10blk/7reb in just 25 minutes. Outside of garbage time, I'm not sure the Pirates scored in the post all night. If they did, it couldn't have been more than a lucky tip-in or two. Attempt after attempt to get the ball inside was met with Melo swatting the ball into the stands. The Pirates were scared of the Orange's length and it showed as numerous soft attempts were met with vicious Syracuse rejections, a total of 15 on the night. For what it's worth, the Pirates failed to match their opponents intensity on the defensive end and finished without a block and only one steal; all the while, the 'Cuse protected the ball to the tune of just 6TOs.
Jordan Theodore (14pts/2ast/3to) was the only Pirate who showed a pulse tonight and it had nothing to do with his absent floor generalship. In fact, it was Theodore's led offense that failed to attack the SU zone, but I guess he's got to be credited for making good on two desperation heaves that kept the doors from being blown off even earlier than they were. In the second half, Theodore was able to split the perimeter defenders a few times and briefly pulled his team back within 20 points, but it was too little, too late. I'm not sure what the game plan was that was brought to the table from the opening tip, but if there was one, Theodore and his teammates failed miserably in an attempt to carry it out.
This is where ugly becomes uglier. After Jordan, the Pirates leading scorer was freshman reserve, Brandon Mobley, who recorded 7 points in 11 minutes and may be the lone bright spot for Seton Hall tonight. By my record, Mobley was the only Pirate who received an entry pass on the elbow and hit his mid-range turnaround jumper. Sure, that also came in garbage time, but if you're not going to make those against this defense, you're not going to stand a chance. Herb Pope who has been mentioned in POY consideration amongst Pirate fans and has been their most consistent player, finished with only 4pts/9reb, while turning the ball over 6 times. Credit Syracuse, Pope couldn't get anything going inside as Melo and the double-teams that were thrown his way won the battle all night long. Against previous competition, Pope was able to kick out and find his teammates for open looks, but not so tonight as the big fella finished with just one assist.
So here we are, after a promising, but questionable, 11-1 non-conference slate, the Pirates were completely and utterly embarrassed at the hands of the Orange who vowed for, "payback," following Seton Hall's thrashing at the Dome last season. It can't get worse from here, can it? To put things in perspective, the Pirates lost by 26 to the best team in the nation tonight and fortunately, it can only count once in the loss column. That said, It's one thing to lose to #1, but it's another to not even show up with a gameplan. It literally looked as if Seton Hall stepped out of their bus, into the snow and were cool with taking the L before they even suited up. Throw 11-1 out the window, it's back to the drawing board right now. I hope the hangover doesn't last long, West Virginia will be visiting the Rock in less than 48 hours. Actually, it's possible if they watch tonight's game tape, they'll be the ones who will fail to show up Friday. Wishful thinking, but I doubt it.