It's not always pretty, however, good teams will find a way to get it done. The Seton Hall Pirates did just that this evening, defeating Providence at the Dunkin Donut Center, 66-57. With the victory, the Pirates improved to (14-2, 3-1) and surpassed their win total from last season, on January 7th. Fuquan Edwin paced the attack for the victors, on a night where bodies were flying and ugly basketball was on display for the majority of the night.
The ugliest moment of the night occurred when Herb Pope positioned himself to take a charge from Gerald Coleman. Pope set his feet in time, but a leaping Coleman ended up raking Pope in his left eye before plummeting to the hardwood himself. Every Seton Hall fan held their breath as Pope reached to his face and slowly lifted himself off the ground. I certainly was thinking back to Jeremy Hazell's broken hand which derailed any possibility of a promising season last year. Surely, Seton Hall is further along this season in comparison, but the end result would have been the same, disappointment. Thankfully, neither player was seriously injured, Coleman returned to the game after a brief absence and Pope returned just seconds into the second half. Phew.
Missing their first four shots, the Pirates used the game's first 8 minutes to find their offense. When they finally took the lead on a Brandon Mobley layup with 12:30 in the first half they would not trail again the rest of the night. Sounds easy right? Not quite. Providence stuck with Seton Hall for the majority of the first half, tying the game on many occasions and pulling within 1 late in the second half. Leading by three points with 6 minutes to play in the first, Seton Hall wouldn't score another field goal until the 2 minute mark and when they did, their lead was extended to four. That's how badly both teams played tonight. It certainly wasn't a game tape that's going to receive a spin at a shooting clinic. Seton Hall somehow pulled out the victory on the road tonight shooting 34%, while getting blocked 17 times by the Providence bigs. That's not going to happen very often. The Friars outshot the Pirates by 10%, yet did so on 16 fewer opportunities, thanks to Seton Hall's 12 steals and 17 turnovers forced. The two main factors that got it done? Seton Hall's CONTINUED hot shooting from distance and secondly, Fuquan Edwin. Follow the jump for analysis of the player performances from another, Seton Hall victory.
We've got to start it off with the player of the night, the nation's steal leader, Fuquan the Ninja, Fuquan the Quiet Assassin, FUUUUUUUUU, "Egg-Win" as one of the SNY personalities referred to him, call him anything you want, while I'll just call him a beast. Edwin went full-out beast mode tonight, drilling his first 5 three-pointers, giving Seton Hall fans everywhere flashbacks of Jamel Jacksons first 11 against VMI, two seasons back. Edwin finished the night with 24pts/9reb/5stl, nearly notching his second consecutive double-double and adding further proof that he's one of the better defenders in the nation with another five swipes. At least four steals a game is becoming a regularity from Edwin and when he only comes up with two in a game, such as against UConn, I find myself asking, "what happened to the other 2?" That isn't fair, but like I said, Fuquan's consistent, exceptional play is something I'm sure many Pirate fans take for granted. Classy move by Edwin to close the game. Edwin could have sent home an exclamation dunk in the closing seconds, all the while adding to his career high 24-point performance, yet he dribbled the ball under the basket and back out, holding it for the final horn. Gotta love watching him play.
Herb Pope struggled tonight after taking a shot to his left eye in the first half and yet, still recorded another double-double. Finishing with 11pts/10reb, nearly half of his rebounds came on tip-attempts off his own misses, including second and third chances. Credit to Pope for never giving up on a ball when it's above the tin, no question he's going to battle his defender, but tonight, he found his shot meeting countless Friar palms. Pope might have been blocked 10 times tonight, he shot 4-of-14, so it's entirely possible that ten (or more) of PC's blocks came against Pope. He needs to work in more pump fakes and moves on the baseline in order to convert high percentage chances or find his way to the charity stripe. Again, I won't take too much out of this performance, he did finish with a dub-dub, AFTER taking bad poke to the eye. Expect him to do work against DePaul's front line, come Tuesday night.
Just as we've seen a few times this season, despite a poor shooting night, Jordan Theodore found a way to put forth a terrific performance. Like his big man, he couldn't get it going from the floor, finishing with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting, but when the team needed a bucket clinging to a one point lead with 3:30 to play, it was Theodore who drilled a 20-footer. You could see it in Jordan's eyes, the jumper sparked an eventual 12-4 run, in which JT also made 5 straight free throws to close the Friars out. The best point guard in the Big East was good for 9 assists, many of them dazzling finds to the interior. Theo also joined Edwin with a borderline criminal 6 thefts on the Friars. Add in another night of strict ball security and you've got a stat line of 14pts/9ast/6stl/4reb/2to. Yup, that's going to get it done.
Credit to Brandon Mobley (28 minutes) and Aaron Geramipoor (10 minutes) for stepping up in the absence of Herb Pope (while he sat with an injury in the first) and Patrik Auda (11 minutes), whose constant fouling wouldn't allow him to stay on the floor. The frosh finished with 4pts/7reb/2ast and while he didn't light up the stat sheet, he's now outplayed Auda the last two games. Additionally, the sophomore hasn't scored more than 7 points in his last four. I mentioned it following the Connecticut game, although we may not be at the point where Mobley should take Auda's starting job, it is awfully close. I understand Kevin Willard is unlikely to make a switch with Seton Hall sitting at 14-2 and winners of 11 of their last 12, but if we're going strictly by performances, the clock is ticking.
Finally, what an awful broadcast from SNY tonight. You can't broadcast a Big East contest on a Saturday evening in high-definition? That's pathetic. Syracuse and Marquette were televised right before Seton Hall/Providence and it's apparent that SNY brought all of their HD cameras to the Carrier Dome. That's small time. Furthermore, the announcers assigned to the game were pretty treacherous. I'm surprised they recognized the defenses that were being ran, as they butchered name-after-Seton-Hall-name. Fuquan, "EGGWIN?" Rant over.
Seton Hall returns home on Tuesday night for a date with DePaul. As I mentioned following the UConn victory, barring a loss at Providence tonight, the Pirates WOULD BE ranked come Monday. I'm fully expecting the Blue Demons to arrive in Newark to take on the #23 (#24th or #25th) ranked Pirates. We'll see.