What an interesting dichotomy of two halves of Seton Hall basketball at the Prudential Center today. The St. Peter's Peacocks (3-2) put up a valiant fight, finally succumbing to the Pirates (5-1) by a score of 76-61. The Peacocks took a lead into the intermission and looked poised to hang a bad home-loss on the good guys. Frankly, Seton Hall's shooting in that half was atrocious. Perhaps they had too many servings of Thanksgiving gravy soaked stuffing, or maybe they went a dollop or three too strong of whipped cream on Aunt Edna's sweet potato pie? I don't know, I'm not a doctor, but the Pirates shook off whatever ailed them and came out in the second frame like it meant something, scoring 47 points.
The Peacocks are notorious for playing scrappy defense; that has always been a hallmark of Head Coach and former Seton Hall Assistant Coach, John Dunne's teams. In fact, this defensive effort was on full display a few weeks ago when the Peacocks took it to the Big East's most recent defector - the Scarlet Knights at the RAC, no less (honestly, people, how could I not mention this? I'm sorry that I'm not sorry). In fact, two years ago, Dunne's team was (statistically) the 2nd best defensive team in the nation, so with a team of 5 seniors and one graduate student (think Kyle Smyth at Seton Hall sans lights out 3PT shooting ability), this team should be able to give most teams in the MAAC fits on any given night.
The Auda and largely Mobley-less Pirates have lost considerable depth at the power forward position. In response, Kevin Willard platooned ultra-athletic wings Fuquan Edwin and Brian Oliver at that spot and the two juniors filled in admirably as faux-fours. Brandon Mobley made an unexpected return to play this afternoon after his recent hyper extended knee injury, and it was certainly good to see. In limited play, Mobley looked mobile and did not appear to be favoring - much. Mobley's ability to crash the boards and alter shots by virtue of his presence alone must not be overlooked. Welcome back, Brandon.
Eugene Teague's presence down low was tremendous this afternoon. He amassed 14 hard-fought points in the first half alone, while ripping down seven boards. He finished with a sexy line of 20PTS, 10REB and 4 assists and If gravity didn't have such a strangle hold on him, I can't imagine what kind of offensive numbers he'd put up (better vertical = easier to get to the rim) . It's important to note that Teague shot a perfect 6 for 6 from the stripe taboot, so, there's that. In fact, all starters who shot from the stripe last night (Cosby, Teague and Edwin) shot a perfect 11-11 combined. Kevin Johnson and Aaron Geramipoor took turns giving 'Gene a break at the 5 which is something the Pirates will hope to get lucky with as the competition level increases.
Fuquan Edwin went off, again, for 25 points (18 of which were in the second half). Fu continues to be a force especially considering he was on the bench for 12 minutes in the first half with 2 fouls. He's playing with the poise and focus we've seen in his first two years while now oozing the leadership and savvy Pirates fans and the coaching staff had hoped they'd see.
I briefly spoke with Patrik Auda prior to the game and he said he was feeling well and he's "doing okay". He appeared to be in great spirits, considering, and he was fully supportive of his team and with them throughout warmups. Kevin Willard has supposedly completed redshirt paperwork on Auda, so he is officially out for the season. We wish Patrik a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back in uniform for another two years.
Don't forget to check back tomorrow (Monday) for JP's 5 Thoughts as the dialogue continues.
Hazard Zet Forward!