Seton Hall 83, Niagara 72 - Fouls, free throws, lead to frustrating opening night

Definitely a foul. Of the triple variety? - Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Seton Hall defeated Niagara 83-72 on Saturday night, and both teams working together with the referees defeated the fans. But, basketball is back! Or is it? A combination of the new NCAA rules, coupled with each team's desire to hack their respective offseason rust onto one another produced an incredibly frustrating pace of play for the players, coaches and fans alike. The teams shot 102 free throws on the back of 73 fouls. Let that sit in. I've seen American League baseball games finish in less than the 2.5 hours it took tonight. Just minutes after the tip kicked off the 2013-14 season, Niagara found themselves in the bonus before the first media timeout. Really?!

A whopping 40 fouls were committed between the two teams in the first half, which left the Pirates and Purple Eagles just off pace for most fouls in a single game (84 - Arizona/Northern Arizona, 1953) at the intermission. Fortunately, this record wasn't meant to be broken, though each team certainly tried and we were surprisingly treated to a semblance of basketball for a few minutes late in the second half. Of course, every time it looked like this game would work itself out, a player had fouled out (six in total) and we were headed back to the line.

I'm in the minority, but I THINK the new rules will work out, I really do. In fact, most (51%?) of the fouls called tonight had more to do with sloppy play than the new touch fouls introduced. There's going to be an adjustment period and it's apparent it will be nauseating to sit through, but I don't think the chatter will be as loud as it is now, come, say, Thanksgiving or so. It's going to be cleaned up. Just need to be patient.

GAME NOTES

  • Impressive numbers (23pts/6reb/4ast) for Sterling Gibbs, coming off the bench making his Seton Hall debut. Equally impressive that he only made 3 field goals, despite finishing with 23.
  • Patrik Auda's (11pts/8reb) footwork and inside shot selection looks improved, a few nifty moves early in first half.
  • Tommy Maayan (3ast/3to) looked sharp out of the gate, as he appeared a step faster than everyone on the floor. His decision making was assertive, his passing was crisp, but didn't face much, if any, full court pressure. Maayan still turned the ball over 3 times in 18 minutes. Not a good ratio.
  • Antoine Mason (Niagara) quietly dropped 34. Quiet and 34 don't usually mix, but, "pitching a tent" at the line (15-of-20), can do that.
  • It was also a quiet night for Fuquan Edwin, who had only 4 points on 2-of-10 shooting, a few steals early, but contributed little throughout the evening. Won't see many of these duds from the captain this season.
  • Wednesday (vs Kent State) can't come soon enough. Please give us basketball back.
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