It wasn't exactly a work of art, but Seton Hall finished off dessert last night in topping NJIT in front of a bigger crowd than what I had expected at the Rock. I went with my dad, who enjoyed the student section, and even caught a t-shirt that looked like one of Eli Manning's many interceptions this season (tipped before it was caught- my dad came up with that one). Anyway, on to The Thoughts!
The student section has caught on to the whole "since-he-has-an-"oo"-sound-in-his-name-we-should-chant-that-every-time-he-does-something-good" thing. There were many "Fuuuuuuq"s raining down on Edwin on Sunday, and deservedly so. The freshman wing (probably the best thing Bobby Gonzalez ever did other than bring Jeremy Hazell to the Hall) scored a game-high 14 PTS and pulled down 9 REB while bringing the energy and the defense from the get-go, garnering 3 STL. I continue to be thoroughly impressed with him. Edwin and Jordan Theodore clearly have a good chemistry going, and because of that, Edwin is far from jittery. He's poised and looks to make things happen. If he can continue this after Hazell comes back, and Seton Hall has two wings who can score and make plays, we could be talking about some big wins in the next few months.
- The 300-pound Gorilla
...in the room. FREE THROWS. 9-22 is not pretty. At all. That said, if there was one game where you would pick Seton Hall, a normally good-shooting team from the line to struggle, you'd pick this one, right? It was the only reason that the game was even close in the first half, but don't dwell on it too much. Just be focused and make them against Syracuse and Georgetown and the rest of the Big East and they'll be ok. Plus, it is Finals Week, so asking for absolute focus is a bit much from college kids (I should know, haha).
- Ferrakohn's Body Language
Much better in this game. On one occasion, an NJIT player knocked down a tough fadeaway over his outstretched hand, and all Hall did was run up the court and call for the ball on the block. He could not have defended that play any better. Did he make a few mistakes? Yes. But did he sulk and moan like last time? Nope. Once that becomes consistent, then he can work on the parts of his game that need work (rebounding being chief among them).
- Second Half Team?
The Pirates, who lead by only 8 at halftime, stormed out of the gate with a 22-6 run to put the game away to start the second half. It's a trend for these Pirates. Last year, they were a first half team. They needed to play well in the first 20 minutes to have a shot at winning a close game. This year, they've played very well in the second halves of games. I don't know what Willard does in that locker room, but whatever he's doing, it's working.
- BIG time
As in games coming up. Dayton is the defending NIT champion, and Richmond has been ranked this year. USF will also be no walk in the park. We knew that the Pirates would blow out the last two teams they've played. But when faced with a stern challenge post-Hazell's injury, they have lost every time (Xavier, Clemson, Arkansas). They need at least one of the next two games. No way around it. They may even need to get both, but we're not getting ahead of ourselves. Their tournament lives could depend on it.
A preview of Dayton will be up tomorrow here on the Juice. In the meantime, get your holiday shopping out of the way, because come Wednesday, you'll be wanting to see what this Pirates team is really made of.