I said after the St. John's game that the Pirates had played perhaps the best game I'd ever seen from them.
Well, after what went down last night at the Rock, I take that back. THAT performance, walloping the Georgetown Hoyas (#9 in the nation) by nearly 20 points, was the best I've seen Seton Hall play.
Here are the 5 Thoughts from a tried and true signature win:
- Basketball Ballet
"Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit. Team, team, team. No one more important than the other"
Coach Norman Dale, Hoosiers
As I watched the game late night on Tuesday after returning to campus, I realized pretty quickly that I was watching art on a basketball court. The Pirates played as One, moved as One, defended as One. It was the most remarkable thing- the unselfishness, the intensity, the flow, the IMMACULATE matchup zone defense... I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Folks, that's about as beautiful as basketball can get. I need a moment....
- Night and Day
I'm referring to the level of effort at the beginning of the Cincinnati game compared to this game. Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope meant business on Tuesday night, and there was never a second that either was on the court that someone could have used to suggest otherwise. That confidence spread to the entire team. We've learned this year that as the Seniors go, so do the Pirates, both good and bad. Sure, Seton Hall had one of those nights where everything dropped for them, but the leadership and effort of the seniors helped in this regard. They established the pace and flow of the game early and never really diverted themselves from that flow.
- Captain of the Ship
You know, I gotta hand it to Jordan Theodore. His first shot was a tough pull-up on the move over a defender right in his face. From that moment on, he was feeling it. He turned in a Man's Game tonight with the performance of his life in terms of shooting the ball. A career-high 29 PTS on just ELEVEN shots from the field, including 5-5 from downtown. Watching him just pull up with confidence whenever the Hoyas made the deadly mistake of leaving him open, it was like watching Deron Williams torch Jeremy Lin for me- pure joy.
- Confidence? Czech!
Coach Willard noticed that Patrik Auda had been playing very well as of late, and moved him back to the starting lineup. Well, ladies and gentlemen, Auda's back. His line of 7 PTS/5 REB/4 AST/2 STL/1 BLK with no turnovers was pretty nice, but Auda showed that his confidence is back by going to the bucket with conviction. Perhaps the surest sign came in the first half, when he caught the ball in the right corner, pump-faked to get Henry Sims in the air, then drove right by Sims with his RIGHT hand to draw a foul at the rim. When was the last time we saw Auda go to his right? His journey back to being a critical rotation player in the last few games has been vastly underrated.
Seton Hall had a very "NCAA Bubble" resume of no signature wins alongisde no "bad" losses (I've disagreed with that part of it for some time now, but numbers are numbers...). Well, not anymore. This win is so huge because of the timing of it all- with so little time left in the season, there's virtually no way that this win over the Hoyas will mean any less than it does right now, as has happened with both West Virginia, UConn and Dayton.
With this signature win in hand, if the Pirates take care of business in their final two games, they'll be sitting pretty. Not only that, but two more victories will mean that Seton Hall will be playing in the Big East Tournament with house money. These two games, vs Rutgers and @ DePaul, are by no means easy. But the Pirates are certainly in the driver's seat for a return to the Promised Land. And that's nice. It's been a while.