Brian Oliver came back against the Bulls and looked pretty good. He wasn't the only one. - The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Pirates get huge boost from returnees to get must-win game against the Bulls.
Seton Hall is finally looking semi-healthy. It's been a long time since we've been able to say that.
Here are the 5 Thoughts:
If there's something you must beat to death about this game it's Mobley and Oliver. Mobley was enormous, getting crucial shots to drop (7-8 from the floor with a brace on his shoulder) despite the issues with his shooting shoulder. Oliver was just as big, coming off the bench with the same smooth stroke that he left on the court against Stony Brook and knocking down 3 threes, which were needed.
Mobley clarified after the game that he didn't quite feel comfortable shooting threes with the brace yet, and that his shoulder was never dislocated (rather, one of the sutures that was put in to hold his labrum in place when he had surgery last season came undone). But he was glad to be back, and was very talkative after the game.
Oliver also was his usual chatty self after his performance, and he definitely looked like he was over his ankle sprain. Coach Willard was careful to not play him too many minutes, but he looked good.
- Corralling the Bulls, Part 1
The second thing that should be noted is the defense. USF's offense is far from stellar, but the Pirates' gameplan was, interestingly, to deny the perimeter shot, choosing to let Anthony Collins get into the paint knowing that he would probably make some good passes for easy scores (which he did). Well, the plan worked, as the Bulls shot just 3-19 from the arc, including a dubious 0-7 from their best shooter in Toarlyn Fitzpatrick.
USF never got into a rhythm, and you could tell the team was energized by their newfound depth (relatively speaking) and also by the week off since the Marquette game.
- Corralling the Bulls, Part 2
While the Pirates realized that Anthony Collins, USF's dynamite point guard, would get his team some easy looks, and constructed their gameplan around denying the shooters while merely trying to contain Collins, that doesn't mean they just let him go by them.
I was impressed with the way Seton Hall played his high screen and roll plays. The man guarding Collins would allow himself to be screened, but the other man on the top of the zone would dart under the screen and cut Collins off before he could think of turning the corner.
An offshoot of this strategy was that at times tonight, the Hall went to a 3-2 look to keep the USF perimeter shooters at bay at the same time this strategy was being employed on Collins.
- Fu and Steady
Fuquan Edwin led the Pirates with 16 PTS and 10 PTS, and he didn't do it with flash. Edwin played a very mature game against the Bulls, as he rarely forced anything and seemed to be in control of himself. He even got a curl into an open jumper and a transition opportunity (!) in this game for the first time in a long time, both of which he converted in one way or another (he was 7-9 from the free throw line, which always helps).
With the Pirates getting back to some semblance of health, Edwin stands to benefit from it because it gives the Hall more weapons to have opposing defenses keep in mind. I would not be surprised if we see more games like Wednesday's from Fu down the stretch of the season.
- Freshman night....
The only real negative that I could find in this game was Tom Maayan on offense. Maayan rarely shoots, but in this game he made some bad decisions without the good decisions that have usually come with them this season (0 AST, 3 TOs), and avoided the rim like the plague, which caused many of the fans in the stands to throw up their hands in exasperation. It's OK to shoot the ball, Tommy. Really, it is.
The Hall now has a quick turnaround before taking on St. John's at MSG on Sunday. As usual, we'll have all the coverage you could want here on SOJ, so keep it locked! And go Pirates!