Wasn't that awesome?
The Pirates came out firing on all cylinders Friday night and while it took a little while for their intensity to translate on the scoreboard, Seton Hall established themselves and would not be denied the victory, their first over West Virginia since 2006, and first over Bob Huggins since he took the job in Morgantown.
Here are the 5 Thoughts from a thrilling win at the Rock:
- Playing with Fire
It truly was a joy to watch the Pirates play on Friday night. It was nothing but raw hustle and energy from the opening tip to the final buzzer, and we didn't even need to wait long to see that this team had put that Syracuse loss FAR behind them. This was a completely different team than the one that trudged home from upstate New York on Wednesday night, and their 2-3 switching matchup zone was active all night long. The defense yielded 15 PTS and 10 REB to Kevin Jones, but other than that, no Mountaineer had much of an impact as numerous tough shots were forced from the visitors en route to just 32% shooting. Major props to the coaching staff for putting the team in the right mindset, and to Jordan Theodore for backing up his "refuse to lose" comments from Wednesday.
- Theodore's Time
Coach Willard said after the game that Theodore is really embracing his role as "THE guy" for Seton Hall and anyone with a pair of eyes could see that against the Mountaineers.
18 PTS, 7-14 FG, 8 AST, 0 TO.
That should be framed and put in the living room for all to see. Jordan was making plays all over the place, and was in total control the entire game. He really kept the West Virginia defense guessing, and the comments he made on Wednesday were backed up in a huge way by his play on the court. Sports fans are skeptical when players say such things, but when they're backed up, they are universally respected. That was Theodore on Friday.
- Bench Talk
All season long, we've heard detractors of the Pirates note the lack of depth. Well, last night was a step in the right direction. Brandon Mobley and Aaron Geramipoor were tremendous, playing 16 and 13 minutes, respectively, helping to fill in the gap when Herb Pope got into foul trouble in the second half. Geramipoor even threw down a dunk off a pick and roll that got the entire crowd into it. When the backup bigs play like they did last night, even when Pope isn't in foul trouble, it's a huge help to keep Pope as fresh as possible as the season rolls along.
- St. Patrik
Patrik Auda only scored two points in the game, but his impact was enormous. Auda was critical in the second half as well, asserting himself not on the scoreboard, but setting up his teammates and making appropriate passes (and great passes) and doing whatever needed to be done. His one basket came because the Mountaineers figured he'd pass the ball off after dribbling left. By the time the defense knew what hit them, Auda had thrown down a monster one-hand jam that really put the game away momentum-wise. It won't be noticed in the box score, but Auda had a huge game tonight.
- True Team Effort
Pope wasn't spectacular but he helped the offense get off the ground in the first half by attacking the bucket relentlessly pressuring Deniz Kilicli (who was hobbled by a sore hip) and scoring the ball. Pope was also a force on defense, blocking 6 shots, tying his career-high. Foul trouble prevented him from improving on his 13 PTS and 6 REB, but as I saw his reaction as the bench guys made plays, I'm positive Pope would rather have the win.
Edwin was tremendous in every way. Coach Willard said in the postgame presser that "when Fuquan plays defense, he's tremendous," and that was certainly the case. Fu finished with 4 STL to go along with 19 PTS, 5 REB and 3 AST, with numerous deflected balls that could have been steals to go along with it. He was active in the passing lanes all night long, and of all the lines of his that have snuck up on Pirate fans, this one was a little less sneaky and a little more worthy of front-page discussion.
Aaron Cosby had one of his best nights. 9 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST against just 1 TO. He was huge from long range and he always seemed to be around the loose balls that were frequent in this game. He was the prime benefactor of the Pirates' effort to rebound as a team to try and keep WVU off the glass, and he's really becoming a solid, solid player for the Hall, emerging as a 4th scoring option behind Pope, Theodore and Edwin.
That's all for now. Next up on the schedule is the old Pirate nemesis and defending national champion UConn. A full preview will be up on gameday this coming Tuesday, but until then, have a Happy New Year from all of us at The Juice! And GOOOOOOO PIRATES!