When your team is 1-2 in the Big East and focused on making it's way to the middle of the pack (especially having been ranked next to last in pre-season conference polls), having last-place Providence at home is as close to a must-win as it gets. Fail. Epic fail, as the Pirates fell to the Friers 67-55, and move to 12-5 (1-3).
I had thoughts of calling in FEMA, things were such a disaster this afternoon. No two ways about it, the first half was an embarrassment of riches for the Pirates. Insufferable turnover, followed by insufferable turnover, followed by more insufferable turnovers. The first half saw Seton Hall commit fifteen. In fact, not even halfway through the opening frame, Seton hall had committed eleven turnovers and zero assists (I just threw up in my mouth a little). Sure, Ed Cooley had his last place team fired up to play, but the stench of apathy on the part of the Pirates was enough to gag the contents of Troy Polamalu's shower drain filter. Going into the intermission, The Friers led 38-22, the Pirates simply had not responded to the massive dragon kick to their throat.
Providence is not a great team. They are not even a particularly good team. They did, however, out-hustle, out-play and out-work the Pirates for 40 straight minutes. It was particularly infuriating that Providence was literally BEGGING Seton Hall to get back into the game. The roughly 15 point deficit that Seton Hall worked against for the majority of the game was not nearly as indicative of how lopsided this game really was. I'm fairly certain that no one in the building saw much hope to get back in this one, as the Pirates were unable to get closer than 9 points. Every time they did, it seems that Bryce Cotton would hit another three (and one); and the lead was again 13 points.
The lone bright spot of the first half was the introduction and honoring of Seton Hall great, Nick Werkman. In the three years he played for Seton Hall, Werkman averaged 32 points and 14 rebounds. Ill repeat that... 32 points and 14 boards. Werkman was clearly moved by the tasteful presentation and the fans answered the call and gave him an extended standing ovation. Classy move by the Pirate faithful and well done by the Athletic Department to invite Werkman and his family there. Too bad he witnessed this particular game.
Plagued by turnovers in the first half, Seton Hall managed to protect the ball better, and only committed 2 the rest of the way. However, it seemed that they were more interested in protecting the ball than they were getting quality shots off, as they seemed tentative for the majority of the second half, as if nobody wanted to shoot the ball. Aaron Cosby continues to drive to the basket, which I like, but he is simply too good a shooter from beyond the arc; I would have liked to see plays drawn up for him to run off a screen (as oppose to the contested line-drive-off-one-leg-3 pt attempt he took in the first half). What's interesting about this game is that Seton Hall shot a better percentage from beyond the arc, at the stripe and overall field-goal percentage. Providence took a total of 61 shots to Seton Hall's 49; certainly the 17 to 8 TO difference (SHU / Providence) had something to do with that.
To make matters worse, Brandon Mobley apparently dislocated his shoulder in the game, and will have an MRI tomorrow. I saw the play live, and it looked like he got kneed in the twig-'n-berries, but evidently his shoulder popped, and it's the same shoulder Brandon had labrum surgery on last year. Willard said, "I can't really comment on how bad it is or how good it is. It doesn't look good. Hopefully we won't have to have surgery on it." Seton Hall is absolutely ravaged by injuries. Speaking of injuries, I was curious why we didn't see much of Kevin Johnson today, but Willard cleared that up after the game by saying, "I wasn't supposed to play him because he didn't practice for three days. His knee swelled back up." As my colleague at SOJ Bob said via Twitter, "Maybe it has something to do with returning to a game 10 days after surgery?". Our very best to Brandon et .al as the SHU injured list continues to grow.
And now, it appears that Haralds Karlis will be the starting PF, which segues into something positive I was able to take away from this debacle. Karlis finally showcased some of what he's been billed as; an uber athletic and tenacious player. It was nice seeing him come into his own a little bit this afternoon, scoring a season high 11 points, with a nifty reverse lay-in and one. Moving forward, hopefully that will translate into confidence for him.
Next up is a trip to Marquette. Things surely won't get easier in Milwaukee, especially having a bench that more and more resembles that of a doubles tennis team. On the NJ Transit ride back to the city I kept telling myself, "The valuable minutes / learning process for Tom Maayan, Haralds Karlis, Aaron Cosby and the rest of the younger guys will be beneficial for the next two seasons." While that is true, this is a tough loss to swallow for certain.