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Around the Hall: Morning After, Pope's Sick, Must-Win? Spreading the Love, Diary Entry

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Saying the Pirates made quick work of another out-of-conference opponent would be an understatement. This game was over well before the second half began as the Pirates led the Minutemen at halftime, 44-19. Lost in the Pirates terrific performance was the fact that they were actually outplayed in the second half, 49-42.

However, the skewed second half numbers are probably a result of the regulars receiving significant rest after extending the lead to 33 with 10 minutes to play. The 18 point victory made the game appear much closer than it actually was thanks in part to a UMass 9-of-15 3PT stretch in the second half.

The Associated Press recap touches on Herb Pope feeling under the weather prior to tip-off with a quote from Bobby Gonzalez:
"Maybe we need him to be sick more often," Gonzalez said.
Sick more often? Probably not. Pope's averaging a double-double. Sick or not, the kid is going to dominate. As Gonzo has noted previously, Pope tallying double-doubles is about as consistent as death and taxes.

Jason Lockhart decides to get a little more graphic with his readers, informing his readers how Pope spent his morning:
Seton Hall Pirate forward Herb Pope woke up Monday morning vommiting before going to his first class. He and his teammates at the time did not think he would be suited up to play in the Pirates' Monday evening game against Massachusetts. But head coach Bobby Gonzalez was not afraid to play the 6-8 forward after he saw him warm up before the game.
"Vommiting," Jason? Interesting. I guess the Newark Sports Examiner doesn't utilize it's spell check. 

Seton Hall saw last night's game against UMass as a "must-win" writes Brendan Prunty of The Star-Ledger:
"I would say (they need to be) convincing," Theodore said of winning nonconference games. "Because the NCAA looks at that. They look at how much you beat a team by, you know? We give credit to (UMass) because they’re a good team. We were just the better team tonight."
In his usual Q&A, game-balls and suicides, Prunty notes the Pirates may be getting ahead of themselves with the talk of must-win games this early:
This should be a "just win" game for the Pirates who can't afford to slip up in their non-conference slate. There's just no need to put any un-needed pressure on a game that was never at any point in doubt. Place the "must win" banner on West Virginia on Dec. 26 or Syracuse on Dec. 29, not against a 4-5 UMass team.
I disagree with Prunty here.  I view every remaining non-conference game as a "must-win" game.  Should the Pirates drop any of their first 10 games, they'll be in trouble with the committee.  The media is already talking about how soft the Pirates OOC schedule is, throw a loss in the mix and it will not sit well with the selection committee come March.  True, a win against WVU or Syracuse would speak volumes should the Pirates find themselves on the bubble as it certainly would carry more weight than any of their OOC victories.

Under the same regard, a loss at home, to a UMass, Hartford or VMI would definitely carry the same weight in the opposite direction for the Hall. I don't consider games against WVU or Syracuse "must wins" as the Pirates can still get in the tournament by dropping these games. Winning would surely help their case, but they aren't eliminated from contention should they drop either or both games. 

Pope came to the defense of his teammate, Jamel Jackson, by converting a somewhat wild alley-oop attempt writes John Rowe:
Pope’s most spectacular play, which prompted the 5,861 Prudential Center fans to jump out of their seats, was an early second half one-handed jam off an alley-oop pass from Jamel Jackson. The pass was a bit high, but Pope converted the play with ease.

"Coach would have killed him if I didn’t," said Pope.
We've seen Pope calm his teammates down during games and now he's bailing them out with superb plays on the court, what's not to like regarding 'The Pope of South Orange?' [And I Credit Gary Cohen for that one.]

A UMass perspective on the game, courtesy of
The Minutemen (4-5), who had a two-game winning streak snapped, have now lost their last six contests in the Garden State, with the previous five occurring in Atlantic City. UMass was competitive for about the first three minutes of the game. After that, it was all Seton Hall. Gurley scored on a nifty driving layup to tie the score, 4-4, before Pope’s layup gave the Pirates the lead for good.
As the team keeps winning, the love keeps spreading. First from Duke fanatic, Seth Davis:
* Don’t look now, but Herb Pope has been putting up some pretty good numbers at Seton Hall – especially on the boards, where he is averaging 11.2 rebounds per game (to go along with 13.3 points). The Pirates have been staying local and playing weak competition, so we won’t know until they face Temple at home on Dec. 19 if they’re for real. But some NBA scouts who have been to their practices say that Pope still shows a lot of potential.
NBA Scouts haven't just been to their practices Seth, they've been coming out to the games on a regular basis.  

Next up, Andy Katz, who has been keeping Seton Hall on his radar all season (and pre-season):
Welcome Herb Pope back to college hoop relevance with his 22-point and 15-board performance for Seton Hall against UMass Monday night.
Katz won't even totally dismiss the Pirates at having a chance at the conference title:
This isn't meant to dismiss Cincinnati's chances to challenge for the title after beating Vanderbilt and losing to Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational. Or to totally dismiss undefeated Seton Hall or one-loss Notre Dame with perhaps the conference MVP in Luke Harangody.
Seton Hall alum, Dick Vitale, gets in the mix:
@DickieV: Hoop lovers keep an eye on Seton Hall as a Rip Van Winkle in the Big East!
And of course, Jeff Goodman checks in with the Stud of the Night:
FOXSPORTS.COM STUD OF THE NIGHT: Seton Hall big man Herb Pope has gone through his share of adversity, but the New Mexico State transfer is getting it done on the court. Pope went for 22 points (he hit both of his 3-point attempts) and 15 rebounds in a win against UMass. Pope is averaging a double-double this season. 
Bobby Gonzalez is participating in a series of 'Diary Entries' for College Chalk Talk with 51 other collegiate coaches.  It's actually a very in depth entry a definite must-read:
We haven't played our best basketball yet and it may take Jeff and Keon a couple of games to get the rust off, but it won't take long.  Fortunately, we have Temple and Navy before we begin the BIG EAST schedule the day after Christmas against West Virginia.  Those games should be good tune-ups for Jeff and Keon.
Seton Hall next plays Saturday against VMI in what is sure to be a high scoring affair, tipping off at noon.