-Seton Hall improved to (14-9, 5-7) this afternoon defeating DePaul (8-16, 1-11) at The Rock, 79-71. For much of the first half the Pirates played impressive basketball in which they led, 50-35 at the break. That said, DePaul was able to reel off a couple big runs of their own in the 1st half, pulling within 4 with 3:30 remaining, before the Pirates were able to extend the lead to 15 points.
The first half was a game of runs as Seton Hall would explode into building double-digit leads before their tired legs would allow DePaul to inch their way closer throughout the first 20 minutes. I fully expected to see an increase in their defensive intensity in the 2nd half, however it never came to fruition as DePaul reeled off a 14-3 run to begin the half, ensuring that they would be sticking around today. And stick around they did as they were able to bring the deficit to just 4 points with just 19 seconds remaining, forcing the Pirates to make their free throws to put this game away.
-Speaking of making FTs, Gonzo is learning! He removed Pope from the game during a timeout where the Pirates faced having to inbound the ball protecting a 4 point lead with 20 seconds to play. It was the right decision by Bobby to get Pope off of the floor, JRob received the inbound pass and proceeded to make both of his throws. Again, right decision by Bobby to remove Pope in this situation, but a little interesting as he defended his decision of keeping Pope in the game for rebounding purposes earlier this week. I'm glad to see he reconsidered.
--Seton Hall's defense left a lot to be desired as they performed below average for the third straight game. Defense has continued to be a troubling aspect of this squad through Big East play, and today, they allowed DePaul to shoot 44%. Defensive breakdowns continue to plaque Pirates, as I said to myself, "that was too easy," on at least 5 Demon layups this afternoon. For whatever reason, the opposition has been able to easily penetrate to the basket over recent play. I understand the Pirate bigs are being extremely cautious to stay out of foul trouble, but even the guards have allowed their men to blow by them for easy layups on multiple occasions.
-I don't want to believe that the Pirates were looking past the Demons, looking forward to St. John's or even West Virginia, but after watching the performance on the defensive end, you'd have to wonder. That mindset will end all postseason hopes very quickly and they'll need to lose it immediately before showing up at St. John's on Wednesday. The team must not forget they still need to win their first road game of the season and should they go into St. John's assuming they're going to win without much effort like this afternoon, they'll be sadly mistaken after 40 minutes with the Red Storm.
-After an impressive showing against Notre Dame, the PG trio brought back the sloppy play that we've seen much of the year. After the ND game, I mentioned I wanted to see consistency out of this group, having them follow up the impressive performance with another one. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case today. Keon Lawrence added his typical 3-of-9 (with 2 easy layups) for 8PTS/4REB/STL/TO, Eugene Harvey's production was minimal (5PTS/3REB/2AST/STL/TO) and Jordan Theodore who has been fighting through a toe injury was wildly inconsistent with 8PTS/4AST/2ASTL/REB/4TO. JT put together his 2nd consecutive game shooting well on 3-of-4 shooting, yet was too sloppy with the ball handing it over 4 times. I wouldn't be too concerned about the lingering turf toe injury as Theodore led all SHU PGs with 27 minutes played.
-Herb Pope was very impressive today, dominating anyone that came close to the glass finishing with, 8PTS/15REB/2AST/2BLK/STL on a smart 4-of-7 shot selection. Pope came just 2 PTS shy of recording his first double-double in 5.5 weeks. Death, Taxes and a Pope double-double seem so long ago! Whatever. I'll take a performance like this out of him every game if I could. It's more important that he dominates the glass than fills up the bucket, especially with the offensive emergence of Jeff Robinson.
-JRob put forth another impressive performance with 16PTS on 7-of-10 shooting, he's shooting 70% over the last 2 games, against ND he was also good on 7-of-10 of his attempts. As long as he stays away from those 3PT heaves, keeps his game inside his range hitting his mid-range jumper, JRob has shown he can be a very efficient scorer. Robinson is slowly becoming one of the team's top options, especially when Jeremy Hazell isn't having his best day.
-Speaking of Hazell, he hit an unbelievable buzzer-beater 3PT attempt from about 40 feet away with the clock expiring in the first half. After Hazell released the ball, it looked like he turned his back on the shot as it fell through the net, he knew it was good. All in all, it wasn't Hazell's best game as he finished on 6-of-16 shooting (3-of-9 from 3PT) for 18PTS/3AST/3REB. Early on it looked like Hazell was making a concentrated effort to get his teammates involved, but came out firing in the 2nd half, how could you not after that make to end the first half?
-The Pirates led the Demons in all but one statistical category (which they tied): FG%, 3PT%, FT%, REB, AST, BLK (tied), TO, PF. Box Score here.
-DePaul's Will Walker, "Iron Will," played all 40 minutes today, good for 19PTS/6REB/STL/BLK/TO on a Hazell-esque 7-of-24, 3-of-13 3PT shooting. If Walker was clicking today, the outcome may have been much different. Credit Keon Lawrence and Jordan Theodore for stepping up defensively, making a concentrated effort to stop Will. The Blue Demons had 4 in double figures, including Tony Freeland, who finished with 18PTS/8REB and a double-double by Mac Koshwal (11PTS/10REB).
-The Pirates held court at home. Yes, the game was too close for comfort and yes, there was a lack of killer instinct on display from the Pirates. Despite having the Blue Demons on the ropes several times, the Pirates kept them at arm's length with little jabs, instead of going in for the KO, they decided to play it safe and settle for a decision. As we've seen all season, the Pirates won't win many decisions and they certainly won't win any on the road. Get to work gentlemen.
... Much more to come in tomorrow's day after post.