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The Day After: The Best Win of the Bobby Gonzalez Era

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A lot to get to today, if you haven't read the post game thoughts, check them out, here

-There it is. 

It only took the Seton Hall Pirates (12-6, 3-4) three weeks to record their first marquee victory of the season, however, a marquee victory it was.  Defeating the 9th ranked Pitt Panthers in Newark places The Hall right in the thick of the Big East standings at 3-4 with a 3 game road trip (USF, Nova, Pitt) looming. Seton Hall was able to take care of a Pittsburgh team that was previously unbeaten at their true road games.  After falling to GTown at home on Wednesday, the Panthers other two "road" losses took place at neutral sites.

The SB Nation blurb on yesterday's upset:

Herb Pope had 19 points and nine rebounds as Seton Hall shocked ninth-ranked Pittsburgh, 64-61, at Prudential Center. Jeff Robinson had 15 points while Eugene Harvey and Jeremy Hazell each added nine points for the Pirates (12-6, 3-4 Big East), who have won three of their last four. Ashton Gibbs had 23 points and Jermaine Dixon added 11 points and six rebounds for the Panthers (15-4, 5-2), who have dropped two straight on the heels of an eight-game winning streak

Despite shooting 80% of their FTs, the Pirates opened the avenue for a Pittsburgh comeback as they struggled from the stripe late in the game reports SHU Athletics:

The Pirates maintained a comfortable cushion for much of the second half, but Seton Hall left the door open for a Panther (15-4, 5-2) comeback with missed free-throws down the stretch.

Bobby Gonzalez has recorded the first marquee victory of his Seton Hall career, forcing people to take notice, writes Pitt Athletics:

Four years after taking the Seton Hall job, coach Bobby Gonzalez now has a marquee win that is going to make people take notice. Herb Pope had 19 points and nine rebounds and Seton Hall posted its biggest win in Gonzalez's turbulent tenure, 64-61 over No. 9 Pittsburgh on Sunday in a game in which Pirates' leading scorer Jeremy Hazell was limited nine points and 16 minutes by foul problems.

Brendan Prunty of The Star-Ledger reports that the Seton Hall victory was the best of the Bobby Gonzalez era: 

The result was a performance to remember against Pittsburgh (15-4, 5-2). In what was arguably Seton Hall’s best victory during the Bobby Gonzalez era, Pope led the Pirates with 19 points and nine rebounds. Forward Jeff Robinson added 15 points for Seton Hall (12-6, 3-4), which picked up its second straight win and seized momentum as it heads on the road for three straight games.

Sound familiar? It should.  I posted the same comment just 6 minutes prior to Prunty.  It's blatantly obvious that he copied my work.  I kid, I kid.  What was blatantly obvious was the fact that the victory was the biggest in Bobby's Seton Hall career, job well done. 

Pope, Robinson and the combo of JT and Harvey all receive Prunty's Game Balls:

GAME BALLS Herb Pope (19 pts., 9 reb., 3 ast.): Seemed to do it all — scoring, rebounding, defense. Pope played with an energy and aggressiveness that we haven't seen all season. If he keeps it up, the Pirates will be a tough team to knock out.

Jeff Robinson (15 pts., 3 reb., 2 stl.): The new year has clearly meant a different Jeff Robinson. As he continues to be the garbageman cleaning up the loose stuff around the boards, he's found a nice range for his jumper. That's made him more difficult to defend.

Jordan Theodore/Eugene Harvey (14 pts., 10 ast., 9 stl., 5 reb.): Had to group them together because this was a tag-team effort. Both played equally well, helping to generate offense by driving to the basket. But the biggest thing was on defense where they got their hands on nine steals. That was huge.

The Pirates are one of the worst defensive teams in the country and the Panthers? One of the best.  Yet, it was Seton Hall handing out a lesson on Sunday afternoon, writes Ray Fittipaldo of the Post-Gazette 

The Panthers allow fewer points than any other team in the Big East. But Sunday, it was Seton Hall that taught Pitt a thing or two about how to play defense in a 64-61 victory against the No. 9 Panthers at the Prudential Center.

Although there have been more significant victories in Seton Hall fashion, John Rowe argues few have been as satisfying.  

Not only did the Pirates beat ninth-ranked Pittsburgh, 64-61, at its own game Sunday, they did so without a typical Jeremy Hazell contribution. With their top scorer spending more time on the bench than on the court because of foul problems, Seton Hall survived because it forced 20 turnovers with its aggressive defense and because Herb Pope, with 19 points and nine rebounds, played like a man among boys. "We left it all out on the floor," said sophomore point guard Jordan Theodore.

Rex Ryan is set to meet with Bobby Gonzalez and the Seton Hall team, earlier than he would have liked: 

"I know that people probably see him as a guy that just shoots his mouth off, but I like the fact that he's a down-to-earth guy and he's just positive," Gonzalez said of Ryan. "He doesn't let anything get him down. He's always positive, always predicting that they're going to win. "I just think that, eventually, when you have that kind of attitude . . . you're going to knock down some walls."

Let's just hope that the Pirates stay humble after meeting with Rex Ryan.  The Jets head coach loves to talk, so much so that he has no shame referring to every player on his roster as, "the best player in the league," in their respective position.  Can you imagine Gonzalez referring to Herb Pope and Jeremy Hazell as the best players in the country? 

Follow the jump for more from: NY Daily News, Slam, NBE, ESPN, CBS, SI, MSG, Rush the Court, Tyahla and Jerry Carino.  

Good friends, Herb Pope and Darrell Revis played in the two biggest games of their lives on Sunday.  However, only Pope's team came away successful as Pope defeated Revis' alma mater reports Roger Rubin of NY Daily News:

Two best friends from just outside of Pittsburgh played in the biggest games of their lives Sunday. The next time they speak, Herb Pope will surely try to console cornerback Darrelle Revis about the Jets' loss in the AFC Championship Game. And Revis certainly will congratulate the Seton Hall power forward on the Pirates' 64-61 upset of No. 9 Pittsburgh at the Rock in Newark.

Joey Whelan of Slam writes about the rough weekend for the top ten, with the Pirates adding to the damage: 

The Pirates held on for a win despite the almost costly errors by guard Jordan Theodore who in trying to run out some clock foolishly attempted a reverse layup in the games closing seconds which he missed, and then missed a subsequent follow up shot. Luckily for him, his teammates were there to back him up by grabbing the offensive rebound and drawing a foul.

It was extremely frustrating as JT had two chances to ice the game for the Pirates by converting just one of two layup attempts.  As well as JT played, the closing 30 seconds of the game won't show up on his career highlight reel. Which brings me to the point of Eugene Harvey's finishing ability.  Despite his increase in turnovers this season, he's still the best finishing guard on this roster.  He's very quick in the open floor, decisive in his penetration and more often than not, he finishes strong.  Early in his career it was frustrating to watch Harvey wildly drive and attempt a layup in traffic.  This season,  he's turned it around and is even finishing with contact, often the recipient of an AND-1. 

Paul Tyahla looks at what's hot and not in his summary of yesterday's action:

What’s Hot  

Defense: The Pirates held Pitt to 35.3% shooting from the floor and owned a +10 edge in turnover margin. They fought through screens, challenged outside shots and clogged passing lanes all day. The Hall had a 26-8 scoring edge in points off turnovers.

Herb Pope: He was the best player on the floor, and abused the Pitt frontline. Pope was 8-for-12 from the field and ended the game with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. It was the best performance by a Seton Hall power forward since Kelly Whitney was on campus.

A couple Seton Hall looks from ESPN:

First from Dana O'Neil:

Crawling out of the Big East cellar is about as easy as climbing Mt. Everest without a sherpa -- it's nearly impossible. Yet, Seton Hall appears to be surfacing from the basement. After an 0-3 start in the league that appeared to signal bad business as usual, the Pirates have won three of their last four, including Sunday's 64-61 upset of No. 11 Pittsburgh.

And also, Seton Hall alum, Dickie V on the depth of the Big East:

From top to bottom, the depth is unreal. I have not even mentioned Louisville, Cincinnati or Notre Dame. They are capable of being very dangerous, and even a team like Seton Hall has the potential to upset numerous teams.

Anthony "Fooch" Fucilli, of, catches up with Bobby Gonzalez to discuss the team's recent improvement:

Gonzalez mentions, the Pirates, "made free throws down the stretch when they counted," although, that wasn't really the case.  JT and Pope each split their FT attempts in the final minute, leaving the door open for Pittsburgh to hang around.  Luckily Jeff Robinson nailed both of his FTs, putting the lead at 3 and ensuring at least overtime, should Pitt have made one of their last second 3PT attempts.  

NBE Basketball Report has an updated Power Poll, with Seton Hall checking in at 8th along with a recap of Sunday's action:

The Pirates led by as many as 11 in the first half, 30-19, before Pitt went on a 14-2 run spanning the end of the half and opening of the second half to take a brief 33-32 lead. However, Pope flashed his enormous potential with several impressive plays in a 9-0 run that put SHU ahead 45-37.

It's noteworthy that Seton Hall won with Hazell limited, only seeing 16 minutes of action, writes Seth Davis:

• The best part about Seton Hall's win over Pittsburgh on Sunday is the fact that 6-foot-8 forward Herb Pope played his best game of the season, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds. Sorry to keep picking on Jeremy Hazell, but it is noteworthy that he was limited to 16 minutes because of foul trouble and only had nine points, yet the team still won.

Rush The Court continues the conversation, questioning Hazell's shot selection:

Because Hazell has a bit of a problem with shot selection. He has a knack for hitting some incredibly tough shots, but far too often he forces quick shots, challenged shots, early in a possession. There is nothing wrong with taking a tough shot at the end of a shot clock, or the end of the game, or even when you’ve knocked down three or four jumpers in a row – your proverbial heat check. But there is something wrong with taking the number of forced jumpers that Hazell was taking early in the season.

It's never to early to start projecting the field of 64.  First up, Jerry Palm, of CBS Sports has Seton Hall as an at-large #11 seed taking on #6 Vanderbilt in New Orleans.  

Joe Lunardi of Bracketology, lists Seton Hall as one of the first four teams out:

FIRST FOUR OUT Florida Seton Hall Charlotte Louisville

Monsignor Robert Sheeran is disputing reports that Seton Hall AD, Joe Quinlan will be fired at the end of the year:

Quinlan has been working without a contract since June, but Sheeran insisted that no decision had been made on his future, adding he's the one who makes such decisions. Sheeran said the athletic department is undergoing a transition and the only department member who has received a new contract was basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez.

Just incase he is let go, Jerry Carino looks at a short list of potential candidates:

One unknown: Who makes this decision? Is it Hobbs? Is it Richard Codey, who basically hand-picked Joe Quinlan? Is it Msgr. Sheeran on his way out? Is it the new president, whenever he is named (we’ve heard rumblings of a possible interim president, which would further complicate matters)? If it’s Codey, Gonzo’s self-proclaimed "agent," then Ensor likely has the inside track. Stay tuned.

Seton Hall is next in action Thursday night, taking on USF in Tampa, FL.