Coming off a turnover filled debacle in the Peach State this weekend, Seton Hall got back in the win column tonight, handling Monmouth 82-66. Seton Hall now leads the all-time series 12-0. Patrik Auda's career high 27 points and 10 rebounds were awfully impressive this evening. We've repeatedly heard Kevin Willard heap praise on him this year, but we saw why tonight... in spades.
I may take some heat on this, but I still think he needs to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. I've seen him pump-fake the three and get called for traveling more times than I've overpaid for cheese fries at the Prudential Center. If he's able to keep defenders honest beyond the arc, his now impressive driving ability will be that much more effective. That said, he was 2-2 tonight from beyond the arc, but had several opportunities; perhaps that will come in time. He was, however, a man among boys tonight, and I hope he gains confidence from his finest outing since donning a Pirates jersey.
In Saturday night's Mercer game, Seton Hall shot a Shaq-esque 56% (17-30) from the stripe. Tonight, they improved to 23 - 28 or 82% (in large part due to Auda's 9-9 showing). Conversely, Monmouth shot a near identical percentage to the Seton Hall @ Mercer debacle (17-31). Not to bemoan the point, but with the new foul rules in place, it's going to be critically important to be effective from the foul line for this team moving forward. Speaking of the foul line, if your last name is Gibbs, you better be near perfect. Like his brother Ashton before him did for years at Pitt, Sterling was perfect from the stripe tonight, going 6-6 and 4-5 from the field for a total of 16 points. Gibbs also had just 1 turnover to his four assists. It's safe to say that this kid is clearly the new Pirate floor general.
Seton Hall must do a better job defending the perimeter. Monmouth shot 40% (7-18) but had several open looks that just didn't fall for them. Against better opposition, that percentage could balloon (see: 8 other Big East teams when they get to conference play). Lastly, Gene Teague and Fuquan Edwin played a combined 82 minutes in the 2OT loss to Mercer just 48 hours ago. It's nice to see the team pick up their struggling leader (Fuquan, who was 1-6 from the field tonight). Teague was limited in minutes to just 16 and it was nice to see how Willard handled the disbursement of minutes; it's good to have a deep bench.
Up next for Seton Hall, BIG 12 opponent University of Oklahoma (3-0). Seton Hall has a tremendous opportunity these next two games at the Barclay's Center (the second game vs. either Virginia Tech or the #1 team in the country, Michigan State University). The strength of their non-conference schedule largely hinges on this upcoming weekend. Until then, Hazard Zet Forward, and see you in Brooklyn.