Take a moment to read what I wrote in Sunday's Morning After post, following Saturday's loss to West Virginia, in preparation for Syracuse:
Against Syracuse on Tuesday, the Pirates will need more than heart and fight, they'll need to add a knock out punch to their repertoire. They've got two days to find it, go get em, Pirates.
Leading 41-29 with 4:35 left in the first half, the Pirates were determined to meticulously build a double-digit lead before heading to intermission. They were outplaying Syracuse in every aspect of the game, taking advantage of smart shot selection, to string together a 12-2 run. During the run, the Pirates were penetrating the 2-3 zone and actually taking more layups than perimeter shot attempts. They dominated the Orange on the glass, especially the offensive end and protected the basketball while forcing the Orange to carelessly turn the ball over. The Pirates protected the ball to perfection, playing 5 minutes of turnover free basketball during the run, culminating with their largest lead of the night, a 12 point cushion.
That's where everything changed.
Basketball is a game of runs and Syracuse had one of their own in store to close out the first half. In the last 4:30, the Orange put together a14-2 run and Syracuse was suddenly the team that could do no wrong as the two teams reversed roles and hit the locker rooms tied at 43. Without a doubt, the Pirates let an opportune situation get away. Being the first half, the Orange weren't on the ropes, but Seton Hall let an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the ball game slip away. If the Pirates were able to build and sustain a 15-20 point lead at the break, they'd be able to play their style of basketball the rest of the way and with an attention to defense, this outcome could have been different.
The Pirates were on an 11-4 run, reeling off six unanswered points to take a 67-61 lead with 13 minutes to play. Jim Boeheim called a 30 second timeout and unfortunately for the Pirates, we were about to see a completely different Syracuse squad take the floor for the final 13 minutes. Coming out of the timeout, the Orange responded with a 6-0 run of their own, which saw Gonzo respond with a quick timeout of his own, in an attempt to limit the damage.
It would make no difference.
The Hall went over six minutes without sinking a field goal as the Orange reeled off another 9 unanswered points, en route to a 15-0 run that would put the Orange ahead for good as Seton Hall would only get within 3 points throughout the remainder of the game.
A knock out punch was on display last night, however it wasn't the blue and white adding the haymaker to their repertoire, instead the Pirates were the unfortunate team to find themselves on the receiving end of an Orange Crush.
Follow the jump for news/notes and game recaps from various media outlets:
What exactly did Jim Boeheim say to his team during the 30 second timeout that sparked the 15-0 run? The AP recap, courtesy of ESPN has the details:
"I told them that we had to get tough. We weren't tough and we hadn't had a tough game all year, at least not physical like this, you know, Big East tough," Boeheim said. "It had to become more of a physical game and we weren't being physical. But after the timeout, we made a few good defensive plays and that got us going."... It was a toughness win," Boeheim added. "We have to be tough every night and have to find a way to be tough every night."
Wesley Johnson played an amazing game last night finishing with 20PTs/19REBs/5BLKs, however his best play of the night may have been his in-bounds touchdown loft to Kris Joseph to put the idea of another wild comeback to rest for Seton Hall. SHU Athletics recounts the play:
Syracuse's Wes Johnson launched the ensuing inbounds pass to a streaking Kris Joseph, who hit a wild layup while being fouled for a traditional three-point play to put the finishing touches on the win. Johnson finished with 20 points, 19 rebounds, and five blocks to lead the Orange. Joseph scored 16 points off the bench, going 4-of-5 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Syracuse Athletics notes the problems the Pirates faced shooting the ball against the Orange 2-3 zone:
Brendan Prunty of the Star-Ledger looks at the loss against Syracuse as another tally under the, "coulda," category:
According to Brent Axe, "The Axeman," Wesley Johnson's performance was beautiful and ugly all in one, as he had to roll up his sleeves and get dirty in helping his teammates defeat the Pirates:
Because Wes had to get down and dirty for it, that's why. This was not a night Wes had his shot working, so he rolled up his sleeves (provided a basketball jersey actually had sleeves) and went to work.
Tim Bontemps of the New York Post reports that Jim Boheim believes Wes Johnson is just getting started:
"He's just scratching the surface, I think, with what he can do," Boeheim said. "We're still trying to figure out the best way to use him, how to get him the ball in the right places, but he'll get better." If he gets much better than last night's performance, the rest of the Big East has a lot to worry about.
Seton Hall fans are getting used to hearing the following quote from Bobby Gonzalez, as reported by John Rowe of The Record:
"I still think we’re going to be a good team," Gonzalez said. "It’s just going to take a while."
The Post-Standard goes around the internet looking at "what they're saying about 13-0 Syracuse Basketball"
Gonzo Ball: The Pirates have seen two of the nation's best squads in one week and despite taking an L for each game, the Pirates have showed fight. 0-2 isn't insurmountable by any means, this team WILL rebound.
Thanks for the shout guys, hopefully next time, it's in a winning effort for the Pirates!
Seton Hall is next in action on January 2nd taking on Virginia Tech from Cancun, Mexico.