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The Day After: After Slow Start, Sharp Shooting Pirates Sink the Navy Ship

Last night, Seton Hall finished a stretch of ten consecutive out-of-conference games with a 94-56 victory against Navy.  Officially, their non-conference schedule is complete after their January 2nd contest with Virginia Tech from sunny Cancun, but for all intents and purposes, it's go time.  Gone are the days of Seton Hall defeating their opponents by an average score of 22 points.  Instead, the Pirates will become more accustomed to playing tough, grind-it-out battles, such as they saw against Temple on Saturday night.

Opinions will vary on whether this team is ready for Big East competition after a rather soft (Cornell & TU notwithstanding) out-of-conference schedule. I firmly believe they are.  The naysayers will say they were a miracle heave away from losing to St. Peter's on the opening night of the season.  And yes, they took the court as individuals in the second half of the TU game, selfishly throwing away an opportunity to knock off the nation's #1 defense.  There were the well documented off-the-court stories of Keon Lawrence, the Gonzo/Parrish clash and the ever popular adjective of choice that every media member has used to describe their OOC schedule: "soft." I use it too, how could you not?

After the first ten games, we've seen the Pirates win nine of them.  They've shown an ability to present a smothering defensive scheme, often forcing their opponents into turning the ball over while filling up the basket with an offensive prowess more often than not.  The team began the season with a moderately deep rotation of eight contributing players (sorry Oliver, Cajuste, Gatling) and on Saturday, that number increased to ten with the additions of Lawrence and Robinson.  Size in numbers isn't always an advantage as we can debate whether or not the new look rotation cost them the contest with Temple.  Don't get me wrong, the additions of Keon and Jeff are critical to the Pirates success this season.  With Big East play beginning in three days, the talent and depth they bring will only serve aid to the Pirates.  Think of their arrivals in the same respect as a mid-season acquisition in any sport.  It will take time for them to become accustomed to the team and vice versa, but the advantages of this "pick up," will greatly outweigh it's initial stumbling blocks. The remaining kinks in the rotation will be worked out in time for Saturday's game with West Virginia because if they're not, it may be a long season of trial and error.  If we get to that point, it'll be too late.

The AP blurb of Navy v. Seton Hall:
"We were 4-for-20 our last game against Temple and 1-of-8 for the first half tonight," Gonzalez said. "So we were 5 of 28 for a game and a half, which is absurd for us. We're a better shooting team than that. We couldn't make shots the last game, and that hurt us. We knew we had to make shots tonight. When we do, as we showed in the second half, we can do a lot of things."
SHU Athletics recaps the Pirates crushing victory:
The Seton Hall men's basketball used a big second half to top Navy, 94-56, on Tuesday night at Prudential Center. The Pirates outscored the Midshipmen (4-8), 64-33, and shot 12-of-18 from three-point range in the final frame to improve to 9-1 on the season.
According to Navy Coach Billy Lange, despite being a good boy, he received a little coal for Christmas, courtesy of Navy Athletics:
"I thought I was a good boy this year, but Santa gave us some coal for the stocking tonight," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "I thought we came to play tonight, but we got a bit deflated when we couldn't make shots. We got great looks, we have to convert them. They kind of got going in the second half and it really just snowballed on us."
The Pirates will no longer be able to string together victories after getting out to sluggish starts, writes Brendan Prunty:
But Tuesday night was the final time that Seton Hall will likely be able to get by winning a game after a sluggish start. All the halftime speeches and coaching adjustments won’t be able to make up for deficits against teams in the top 10.

Now the Pirates are left to rely on one thing to dig them out of holes: themselves. Are they ready to go? We’ll know on Saturday afternoon.
Prunty follows up the recap with his Q&A, suicides and game balls, however I'd have to disagree with his assignment of Eugene Harvey's 'suicide:
SUICIDES
Eugene Harvey (0 pts., 7 ast.): Yet another head-scratching game for the senior point guard. Saturday against Temple he was terrific, but Tuesday he was a ghost — just invisible. The seven assists were nice, but he's got to do more than just that.
First of all, Harvey played decent against Temple, decent.  He did shoot well, 5-of-8 from the floor and only turned the ball over once, however he logged 32 minutes and only recorded 3 assists.  You can't have 3 assists in 30+ minutes from your floor general and expect to win, you just can't.  A big problem Saturday night was the fact that the players were playing selfishly, looking for their own shots, instead of finding their teammates.  It almost seemed as if they were afraid of losing their minutes without first making a statement in the points column.

I think a case can be made that Harvey actually played better on Tuesday night.  In only 20 minutes, Harvey was generous with the ball, shelling out 7 assists and only logging one shot attempt, which he missed.  Theoretically, Harvey doesn't need "to do more than just that." The team is deep with scorers where they aren't depending on Harvey to deliver a his  9.5ppg on a nightly basis.  Instead, the team needs him to be the floor general, use his quickness to draw defenders in before finding his teammates for open looks, play strong defense and assert his leadership on the floor.

Seton Hall will next play home to West Virginia University on Saturday at 3:30pm.  Oh yeah, the game will be in front of a nationally televised CBS audience.  Again, Merry Christmas Pirates, make the most of it.