Usually, if I've done a scouting report on a team already, I don't repeat it.
But this is different.
This is Rutgers, and a chance to save face after not only that disgusting collapse against UConn (who just got trounced by St. John's, prompting me to seriously consider taking up drinking), but also to prevent Rutgers from a season sweep for the first time in a decade over the Pirates.
Rather than go into every detail like in a normal scouting report, here are the things that SHU needs to work on/do to get the win at the RAC:
- Get Jeremy Hazell the Ball Early
In the last meeting between Rutgers and Seton Hall, Hazell took precisely ONE shot in the first 11:51 of the game. This allowed Dane Miller to get the confidence he needed to check Hazell extremely well for the rest of the game. Going on the road, into a hostile environment, the Pirates must get a heat-check on Hazell. If he's not hot, then you move to plan B (Pope/Robinson), but Hazell is the Pirates' best player, and the type of player that typically steps up in this kind of situation. Scrapping plan A without even trying it first will likely lead to a second half like he had the first time around (4-16 FG).
- Manage Fouls Better
This applies to everyone, really. The Pirates committed 18 fouls against Rutgers their last time out, including foul-outs by both Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore. Rutgers almost shot themselves out of a win from the stripe, making just 13-27 from there, but that shouldn't happen again, especially on Rutgers' home floor.
What will help this is the return of Patrik Auda from his toe injury. The Pirates should be able to use his size to at the very least pick up a couple of those fouls instead of Herb or Jeff Robinson. Aaron Geramipoor played a grand total of 1 minute. I expect him to play a few more Saturday.
- Don't Chuck It
That 6-27 from deep REALLY hurt the Pirates. I don't anticipate that the Pirates will set the world on fire from deep (although they have done that twice on the road this year- @UMass and @Syracuse), so they must work the ball around and get good shots every time down. I would also like it if Seton Hall's guards tried to get to the line, specifically Theodore and Hazell, who are both excellent FT shooters. Let us not forget that Rutgers is a bit on the thin side depth-wise, so the fouls will also help Seton Hall in that regard.
- Defend Mitchell
Jeff Robinson held Mitchell to 14 points in the last game, but Mitchell is playing out of his mind lately, scoring over 20 PTS in 4 of Rutgers' 5 games since they beat the Pirates. Oh, and he also got the winning 4-point play on Wednesday night to knock off Villanova. The versatile senior has been at his best for most of this year, and many Big East coaches are happy to see him leave after this season (could you imagine Mitchell with that recruiting class coming in next year? Scary...). Defending him will be key to a Pirates' victory.
- Stay Focused
Jordan Theodore threw the gauntlet after the Pirates' loss to the Scarlet Knights when he said "When we go down to Rutgers, we're not losing." The crowd at the RAC will be raucous and loud, and it will be on Coach Willard and the upperclassmen to keep the team under control and focused in the face of the toughest crowd they will play in front of all season.
This game is crucial if the Pirates want to have a shot of a better seed in the Big East Tournament- win this game, and they will have 5 wins (and a 5-8 record in conference play). Currently, there are 5 teams at 6-5 on the conference season. Two of those teams are St. John's and Marquette, who the Pirates play twice in the final two weeks of the season. In order to make that Marquette-St. John's-Marquette sequence at the back end of the season matter, the Pirates have to have this game and/or the Villanova game on Tuesday. Both are tough games, and both are winnable. If the Pirates want to make a move, the time is now. These last few games are crucial if they want to get perhaps a 10 or 11 seed rather than the 12 or 13 seed they are headed for.
Will they show up and play like they want it? We shall see.