The Seton Hall Pirates, mired in mediocrity their previous two games, came out tonight... worse, far worse. First, let's give credit where credit is due; Mike Brey's team (now just 2-8 away from South Bend) burned the clock effectively in their offensive end and disrupted the Pirates offense (or, whatever you'd like to call that display) to no end. Seton Hall shot an abysmal 26% from the field.
I don't mean to go all French Lit. on you, but (I will) Victor Hugo's famous character from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is Quasimodo; the Latin words "quasi" and "modo" mean "almost" and "the standard measure" respectively. Essentially, this means that Quasi, (loopy mug, though he may be) is "almost the standard measure" of a human person. Tonight, Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore did not meet this minimum requirement (as players / leaders) going a combined 6-28 from the field. JT had 1 assist and 5 turnovers; essentially the inverse of his season numbers. Not to be outdone, Pope went just 2-16 on the night and was one of three Pirates to foul out (Edwin and Auda the others). Edwin, however, added another 3 steals and 12 boards but managed just 7 points.
Roughly 8 minutes through the first half of the game, the score was 4-2. Please allow me to repeat; FOUR. TO. TWO. I played hockey for Seton Hall and had higher scores though equivalent time elapses. I get it, Brey is a master of the "burn" system (eating the clock), but Notre Dame had similar shooting woes early on, then made adjustments. Seton Hall? Not so much. I'm mostly vexed because Seton Hall had exactly one week in which to prepare for this game. Instead of coming out sharp and fresh, they mirrored the same Seton Hall team who played St. Francis (NY) in the first game of the season. Sloppy, tentative, scattered, undisciplined and devoid of urgency and direction. Especially after the loss to Villanova (not to mention the USF loss preceding the 'Nova loss) I simply don't see how a team with such ability can come out that flat against an objectively mediocre Big East team, and on their home court taboot! Serenity Now.
The most interesting personal effort out of Seton Hall (to me) came from Brandon Mobley. Logging just 15 minutes off the bench, Mobley still managed to tally 5 offensive boards (7 total), 2 steals and two assists (he should have had more assists, but it appears that Seton Hall was shooting into a circus hoop, on both ends of the floor, up hill, in the snow.)
I'd also like to mention one more player: Patrick Auda. I saw 3-5 good looks from beyond the arc he could have taken, but he pumped, cut, and dished in traffic, resulted in precisely zero points. At some point, Auda is going to need to shoot the rock from deep and keep defenders honest. I've heard from players, coaches, administrators and scouts that he can really shoot it. This must become a part of his game.
Next up for the Pirates this Saturday evening is Kevin Wilards mentor, Rick Pitino (please wear a white suit, please wear a white suit, please wear a white suit), and his erratic Louisville Cardinals who bested Villanova tonight. Saturday is a "milestone birthday" for me, so the idea of taking the NJ Transit train back to NYC without a win is simply unthinkable. We are now in "must win" territory, as the amount of home games has dwindled along with January days. There is only one full month until March --- and that's where I will stop, because further discussions, at this point, would simply be preposterous.
As an aside, I still remember, vividly, Jeremy Hazell's freshman year when he dropped bombs at the Rock all the way from gate 26B at Newark Airport the entire second half against Louisville. Sweet mother of mercy, that was a thing of beauty. Lets hope that this team can draw from that experience and develop the same fearless confidence (sans bad shot selection) and return to the form they had in beating teams like, oh, I dunno, UConn, WVA, Dayton, St. Joe's and VCU to name a few.
Does this team have the ability to do great things? Yes, I still believe they do. Will they? .................
As always, HAZARD ZET FORWARD, my friends.