The Pirates (6-4) improved to 4-0 at home in a 68-45 thrashing over the NJIT Highlanders in front of a generous 1500 fans (gate, not tickets sold) at The Rock tonight. I hope everyone enjoyed the laugher tonight as Seton Hall made quick (2nd half) work of their third and final cupcake on their schedule. The Pirates have enjoyed three consecutive 20PT+ victories after defeating UMass in Amherst, followed by LU and NJIT at home. This is likely to change on Wednesday, as the road will get a little bumpier for the the Pirates as Dayton and Richmond come to Newark before conference play is set to begin on 12/28.
-Herb Pope was a late scratch tonight as his left foot injury continues to linger. XRays and MRIs came back clean and holding Pope out was likely more a precaution against a weak opponent than anything serious to worry about. I expect to see Pope back and dressed Wednesday against Dayton.
-Ferrakohn Hall took Pope's place in the starting lineup and started the game where he left off against Longwood, taking ridiculous shot attempts and exhibiting poor body language all before missing a wide open layup. Willard had a rather quick hook in the first half with Hall, however, Ferro did turn it around in the second half; converting all three of his shot attempts, one of which included a two-handed dunk on a feed from JT. His final line was 8PTS/4REB on 4-of-6 from the floor.
-As I noted at the half, I love Jeff Robinson's mid-range game and it's a shame that we only see a glance of it this season. In the first half he received an entry pass on the left elbow from Theodore and with his back to the basket, he pivoted and stroked a pretty 15-footer that hit bottoms. As the ball fell through the net, I said to myself..."That's his game! That's HIS game!" And then... Robinson proceeded to take 5-3PT attempts. To be fair, he did make two, including a bank job good for the first bucket of the game for The Hall. Another solid game from Robinson who put forth 10PT/7REB/2STL in 26 minutes.
-Jordan Theodore distributed the ball all over the arena tonight, good for 10AST and only 2TO in 23 minutes of action. He only found the bucket twice on six attempts, but when he's moving the rock and taking care of the ball, his 13PPG production isn't necessarily needed every night.
-What more can you say about JJAX? He bounced back from his atrocious 1-of-9 3PT shooting display against Longwood to hit 3-of-5 from beyond the arc tonight. He's now 20-of-49 on the season, good for better than 40%. When you look at Pirates who have stepped up in Hazell's absence don't forget Mel Jack!
-I thought Willard's defense was tremendous tonight. He mixed a little full court press with a 3/4 press to frustrate NJIT in the backcourt before moving into their base 2-3 zone in the half court. As a result, the Highlanders committed 13TO and shot just 30% from the floor. Whether or not the 3/4 press will fly against more athletic teams (Hello BIG EAST) is anyone's guess. We did see it broken for stretches in the Virgin Islands, but it looks as if the Pirates have continued to shore up defensively since, regardless of opponent.
-For the second consecutive contest, the best player on the floor was the freshman, Fuquan Edwin. As one caller just said on Hall Line, let's give Bobby credit for landing him. Kudos Gonzo. Let's also give Willard a hand for convincing him to stay. We'll chalk it up to teamwork. Tonight, Edwin led all scorers with 14PTS and couldn't be kept off the glass from the very beginning as he ripped down 9REB as well. He continues to fill up the stat sheet defensively adding another 3STL and a BLK tonight. His fellow freshmen class joined him with nice performances as Auda and Okoloji each contributed 9PTS in 23 and 11 minutes respectively. Anali scored 5 of his points from the stripe and it's a good thing, without him, the Hall would have just shot 4-of-14 from the line.
-The Pirates are off until Wednesday when they'll welcome Dayton in for their third-game of this five-game homestand.