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Seton Hall Pirates (14-9, 5-7) @ St. John's Red Storm (14-10, 4-8) 7:00PM Open Game Thread

Seton Hall @ St. John's, 7:51PM
Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
Television: MSG+, ESPN360
Radio: 770 WABC  
Online: Pirates vs. Red Storm Coverage 

Live game updates via Twitter: @GonzoBall @thecycle 

Projected Starting Five: G-Theodore, G-Lawrence, G-Hazell, F-Robinson, F/C-Pope.  Eugene Harvey is out with a bone bruise in his wrist.  

Biggest game of the year.  Of course, Pirate fans have been uttering those five words since they pulled within one game of .500 at 3-4.  With a third consecutive victory and their first BE road victory tonight, The Hall has an opportunity to pull back within 1 game of .500 in time for a trip to Morgantown on Saturday.  A win in Queens won't be easy, in fact, very little does to a Pirates team that is currently 0-5 on the road in conference play.  If this team is serious about making a postseason push, why not get off the road schneid tonight? In fact, they MUST get off the scneid tonight, no ifs/ands/butts.  Making matters worse is the venue of choice, Carnesecca, where the Pirates haven't won in 20 years. You read that correctly, the last time the Pirates left Gonzo's favorite Big East arena with a dub was on March 3rd, 1990.  

I usually cite AST/TO ratio and REB as major factors in the fate of a game.  Tonight, I'm going with Seton Hall's defense. Sure, TO/REB will factor into the overall defense of the Pirates, but I'm looking for them to play with some intensity and fire tonight.  A little sense of urgency never hurt anybody, show us that killer instinct that the players spoke loudly about after narrowly escaping DePaul at home.  Enough of the talk of what should have been or what will, it bears repeating, show us. Over their last five games, the Pirates haven't held an opponent to below 44% shooting, that's going to need to end tonight.  Where is the defense that held Pittsburgh to 35% shooting on January 24th? Was that an aberration for our defense? Possibly.  Is it impossible to hold a St. John's team who averages 42% under 40% tonight? Absolutely not.  

Lastly, I've been lobbying for an increase in Stix's playing time all season (herehereherehere, etc.), but seriously, it's time to get him going.  In a perfect world, Stix & Keon would split 30 minutes down the middle at 15 a piece, instead of the unbalanced rate that Bobby has been putting them on the floor.   Understandably, Gonzo likes what he sees from Lawrence defensively, but let's be real for a minute.  As good as he is defensively does it make up for the liability on offense? Don't get wrong, Keon hustles for loose balls, will make the extra pass and works his tail off on defense. That said, he's taken at least 8 shot attempts in 8 of his 14 games this season.  When you're shooting under 30% and 15% from 3PT, that's painful and frankly, too many shots.  Stix on the other hand has hit big shot after big shot this season, of course they don't go as noticed as Hazell's big shots, that's understandable, but at the same time, it's time to give Stix a significant role again.  Mitchell is shooting 43% and 29% 3PT, certainly he's not shooting out the lights, but it's quite an upgrade over what Keon has contributed offensively at this point.  It comes down to this -- is the loss of an extra offensive weapon outweighed by Keon's defense? Certainly on some possessions it would be, but for the extended minutes Keon has been playing? I would answer, it does not.  Consider Hazell is off and Pope is struggling, Stix absolutely needs to be in the game, shooting away.

Despite driving home the idea that an increased intensity on defense will be needed to win this game, I've got a gut feeling that this one is on the shoulders of the self-proclaimed, "BIGG-GAME Hazell." Hazell drops 30PTS tonight and Seton Hall wins, if he doesn't, I'm looking for SJU to hold court at home. By the way, the Pirates are 4-3 when Jeremy scores 30 or more.   

As always, Let's Go Hall!

SHU Preview:

SETON HALL - ST. JOHN'S SERIES
Seton Hall and St. John's will meet for the 86th time in history on Wednesday. Seton Hall has only played against three other schools more, Villanova, Providence and Georgetown. St. John's owns the all-time series lead, 54-31, but the Pirates have won six of their last 10 meetings. The Red Storm have won both of the last two games at Carnesecca Arena by a combined eight points. Last season, the teams played twice and split with each winning at home.

SJU Preview:

For the third-straight season, the St. John's men's basketball team (14-10, 4-8 BIG EAST) takes on Seton Hall (14-9, 5-7 BIG EAST) in Queens at Carnesecca Arena, with the latest installment of the local BIG EAST rivalry slated for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Red Storm attempt to go 3-for-3 in such campus matchups with the Pirates -- and post a three-game conference winning streak for the first time since 2007-08 -- in a contest that will air in the New York area on MSG+, with Bob Picozzi and John Celestand calling the action.

Demonstrative and brash vs. quiet and humble.  Appropriate adjectives from The East Coast Bias in describing each school's head coach in their game preview:

Basically, this is a game of two mangy dogs scrapping over some bones, looking to mark some territory. So be it.

Both teams come off of two wins. Each has beaten Notre Dame - the Hall beat them in Newark, St. John's beat them in Indiana. St. John's enjoyed a home win over the Louisville Cardinals, and Seton Hall hosted the DePaul Blue Demons for a win that should have been easier if they tried a little harder on defense in the second half.

Make sure to check out the Q&A we completed with ECB today in preparation of the game.  Part 1Part 2. 

If you couldn't tell by the 2-19 all-time venue record, Seton Hall isn't looking forward to playing at Carnasecca writes Lenn Robbins

Carnephobia: The irrational fear of playing in Carnesecca Arena.

Symptoms: The inability to control the urge to complain about games played in this bandbox instead of the Garden.

Diagnosed cases: Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez and his Pirates.

'Piratz' Game Preview:

If the Pirates can win this game and exorcise some of the demons from years past and get to 15-9, 6-7 with their first conference road win, it would be a huge confidence boost heading into Morgantown this weekend for a showdown with #8 West Virginia (SHU is 0-15 against ranked teams on the road in the Gonzo Era).

This is a big opportunity as well as a "show me" game for The Hall. They'll be looking to win a crucial game on the road in a building they've struggled in, and against a team playing their best ball of the year.

Until they actually win a game like that, the jury remains out.

Adam Zagoria uncovers Gonzo's hatred of SJU's campus venue:

After Gonzalez complained in 2008 that Seton Hall had to play on St. John's campus instead of at Madison Square Garden, the St. John's student section taunted him last year with one sign that read "Welcome to the World's Most Famous Arena" and another that pictured Gonzalez with a pacifier in his mouth and a caption reading, "I don't want to play in Carnesecca, Mommy."

Zing. 

Roger Rubin of the Daily News breaks down the game with a look at postseason opportunities for a few teams clinging to the bubble, including SHU and SJU:

It's true to varying degrees for the teams in the metropolitan area. Goals can still be met and invitations to a legitimate national postseason tournament - even the NCAAs - earned. Going into play Tuesday night, six teams had 3-5 conference records(including St. John's, Seton Hall and Rutgers). Some combination of two could make the Big Dance without a Big East title, but only at the expense of the others. And UConn - with wins over Texas and Villanova already - seems likeliest.

Lastly, Paul Tyahla makes the case that the Pirates still have something to prove tonight:

The Pirates play one of their telling games of the season tonight. They enter Carnesecca Arena looking to earn their first Big East road win, claw into the middle of the conference pack, and avenge consecutive heartbreakers in Queens.

As always, post game thoughts will be posted just minutes after the game concludes.   Until then, follow live updates via twitter.