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The Morning After: Hazell, Theodore, Quiet Newman Nation

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Seton Hall (3-0) defeated Cornell (2-1) by a score of 89-79, at Newman Arena, where the Big Red had previously reeled off 22 consecutive victories.  The Pirates snapped the nation's 5th longest home-winning streak, spoiling the home-opener on a night that saw the Red raise another Ivy-Leauge Championship banner.

The Red started the game 8-0 on a stretch that saw the Pirates shoot 0-4 from the field along with missing a pair of free throws.  Gonzalez called timeout and Seton Hall had reason to worry.  In fact, this is what we were worried about all week long, the Pirates would start cold and Cornell would shoot lights out from the very beginning. The Hall would play lazy defense around the perimeter while the Red would play as Ivy's do -- knocking down open shots, utilizing lots of screens, cuts and crisp passing.  I don't know what Gonzo said during that timeout, but it certainly clicked as the Pirates left the team that played the first 3:03 on the sidelines coming out of the timeout.

After a Herb Pope jumper and three straight Jordan Theodore field goals, the game was tied, thanks also in part to a new found defensive intensity.  The Pirates were simply quicker on both ends of the floor.  On defense, it seemed like the Pirates would get their hand on the ball during every Red possession.  Seton Hall had too much energy for Cornell as they were diving for loose balls, forcing jump balls, mix in a few monstrous Herb Pope blocks and the tone was set on the defensive end.  

On offense, Theodore was routinely blowing by his defender, Louis Dale, who couldn't match his speed.  The sophomore point-guard finished with 20PTS on 6-of-10 shooting, adding 4REB and 4AST. The stat line doesn't quite do justice to the game that Theodore displayed, as he provided the offensive spark early that prevented the Pirates from playing catch-up for the remainder of the game.  Defensively, Jordan was everywhere, most importantly, he limited Dale to 4PTS on 2-of-6 shooting.

As I mentioned in the post-game notes, Theodore saw the majority of action at PG with 28 minutes, whereas Harvey was held scoreless, playing only 16 minutes.  Whether Gonzo was riding out the hot hand or he has a new starting PG for the Pirates, remains to be seen. That being said, it was clear who Gonzalez trusted to lead his squad to victory as Cornell made a few mini-runs in the second half and it was the second-year guard.

Jeremy Hazell turned in a vintage Hazell night, dropping 33 points on 5-7 3PT shooting. Hazell only made one field goal in the first 13 minutes of play and then, suddenly, started to catch fire.  Hazell made back-to-back 3PT shots on consecutive Hall possessions, while converting a 4-point play on the second.  Cornell answered with a bucket briefly interrupting his run before Hazell sank back-to-back jumpers on the next two possessions, putting the Pirates up 32-24 with 4 minutes left in the half. Hazell finished with 13 in the first half, however things would get much worse for the Red in the second half.

Continue Reading After the Jump:


Hazell began the second half right where he left off in the first, scoring the first 6 points for the Pirates.  In the second half, the Hall built an 18-point lead, putting the Red on the ropes with 11:30 left to play.  Instead, Cornell hung around cutting the deficit into single digits, led by a 9-0 run that saw Seton Hall's lead dwindled to 9 with 9:00 to play.  Hazell then went full NBA Jam on fire mode, scoring the Pirates next 10 points, putting the lead back to 14 with 6:00 to play and essentially, putting the game away.

Herb Pope contributed another outstanding game, finishing with a double-double on 11PTS/12REBS and added 3 blocks for good measure.  Pope missed a pair of dunks, the first would have been an absolute KO to Cornell's morale, however the second looked like the defender got away with a goaltending violation with his hand pressed against the rim.

More importantly, I took something away from watching Pope that won't be shown in the box score or highlight reel.  Maturity.  Twice throughout the game, the teams got a little chippy with the pushing, shoving and chatter after baskets.  It was Pope who was the first Pirate to intervene in the situations, calming his teammates down.  In the first half he led Mitchell away from a confrontation, protecting his teammate from potentially picking up a tech.  Later, Pope was fouled, went to the line and while shooting he was still trying to keep his teammates calm in order to regain their focus.  That's what I call leadership. 

Speaking of maturity, "Newman Nation," displayed a lot of class last night.  First, there was the drunk-fan sitting next to the announcers screaming, "See you in the tournament, you won't be in the tournament" repeatedly.  Repeatedly is an understatement, he must have uttered that line 15 times in 2 minutes as Cornell was down big in the second half.  I would have liked to have seen security at Newman Arena remove this fan as it was detrimental to the broadcast.  Regarding his statement, apparently making the NCAA tournament in consecutive years by way of beating up on other Ivies only to be waxed by Stanford (24 points) and Missouri (19 points) is good enough for him, so be it. 

There's always one fan that gives their team a bad name, so I didn't want to label all of "Newman Nation" as being poor-sports in the middle of a devastating loss that would see their 22 game winning streak shattered.  I would reserve my judgment until the 3 minute mark.  After a timeout, down 15 points, the cameras captured the student body chanting "Hey, Hey, You, Suck!" Ugh. Really?

Robert Mitchell was then fouled and went to the line, nursing a large lead with time expiring.  The arena broke into a raucous, "N-I-T" chant that was quite comical.  Are they lobbying their own destination should they not win the Ivy League this year? Seton Hall hasn't been in the NIT since 2003, have they decided that the Pirates are NIT bound sitting at 3-0 after securing a big road victory? Most likely neither, instead it was a classless display from Cornell's student body.  It's one thing to beat up on a team from a major conference and as the clock wanes away, by all means, engage in all the chanting that you want.  However, when you're on the receiving end of the beating and you're trying to taunt the opposition, use a little common sense.  It portrays a lack of knowledge of the game and paints a picture of a classless fanbase. 

Morning After Around the Hall:

The Star-Ledger:
Jeremy Hazell was asked to explain what it feels like when he gets into one of those dazzling shooting streaks where it doesn’t seem to matter where he is on the court or who is guarding him.

"It’s like throwing a pebble in the ocean," Seton Hall’s 6-5 junior said.
The Voice of the Big Red:
Cornell jumped out to an 8-0 lead three minute in, but Seton Hall point guard Jordan Theodore led the Pirates on an 8-0 run to tie the game. 6 offensive rebounds by Herb Pope allowed the Pirates to stay in the game despite poor shooting early, and once the Pirates found their stroke, they never looked back.
The Star Gazette:
Hazell hit shot after shot against shorter defenders, jawing with the student section along the way and generally enjoying his role as antagonist. His intense nature was a microcosm of Seton Hall's determined approach to this game, a win that coach Bobby Gonzalez was thrilled to get. It ended Cornell's 21-game win streak at home, in front of an announced sellout of 4,600.