It ended up what my colleage here at SOJ called a "snoozer," but it was a close game throughout the first half, and the Pirates trailed the NJIT Highlanders for a time. But the Pirates recovered and stormed to victory.
Here are the 5 Thoughts:
I started that hashtag today on Twitter- hopefully it catches on. Right now, hes been exactly that for the Pirates. A force down low who is playing like one of the best players if not the best in the Big East. Pope is even getting a little national attention for his exploits as the standout forward for the now 7-1 Seton Hall Pirates, and he deserves every ounce of it.
Tuesday against NJIT, Pope did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. 25 PTS on 10-15 shooting with 6 REB, 4 AST and 2 STL with only 1 TO. Those numbers will ensure that Pope will remain the leading scorer in the Big East through tonight, although he will fall behind Kevin Jones for first in rebounding. When that's the only negative for Pope in this game, that's a good thing.
- The Maestro
Jordan Theodore has been fantastic in his distribution of the ball this season, and he recorded a double-double tonight with 11 PTS and a career-best 11 AST with ZERO TURNOVERS. He only took 8 shots and made 4 of them, another plus. He's second in the Big East in assists behind Travon Woodall right now, but if he keeps this up, he could lead the conference before long. If the Pirates were an orchestra, Pope would be Concertmaster (as the leader of his section- the paint- and sometimes the entire orchestra) and Theodore would definitely be the conductor. The two seniors have been all that and then some this year. They keep this up, and I'm going to run out of different ways to say how great they've played.
- The Wrath of Willard
After a first half that included dreadful effort, particularly on defense, we can only assume that Coach Willard laid into the team at the halftime break. And because of a second half in which the Pirates went on a 31-8 run to open it, that's further proof that it happened. Whatever Willard does in that locker room is a mystery to everyone not on the team or the coaching staff, but it certainly works. The Pirates have always started fast after a slow first half this year. Props to Willard and the staff for either being great motivators, great technicians, or both.
- Minutes, minutes, minutes
It may not have been to the extent that Willard would have liked, but the bench helped out the guys who usually play heavy minutes tonight. The only Pirate who was on the floor for over 30 minutes was Patrik Auda (11 PTS, 7 REB). Fuquan Edwin (another sneaky good line of 9 PTS, 6 REB and 5 STL), Pope and Theodore played under 30 minutes, with Theodore playing only 25. That's what I wanted to see tonight- the bench giving the starters a little more rest. Again, I would have preferred if the Pirates jumped out to a huge lead immediately to give the regulars even more rest, but I can't complain at this point.
- (Lack of) Atmosphere
Watching on the Pirate Sports Network, I saw next to no one in the arena, and even less than that in the student section. Given that the opponent was NJIT, and that many students (including this guy) have lots of final projects and the like to work on, I won't slam them too hard. Did it contribute to the slow start? Well, we all know players love the big crowds, so perhaps it did. But it's becoming abundantly clear that this team is one people should want to watch no matter who they are playing. I expect a better crowd for Wake Forest on Saturday, and I really hope that we have a better showing against Mercer on the 18th, than what we saw tonight. The announced attendance was 6404, and that looked to me like a huge stretch. Come out and support your Pirates!