During pregame we learned Seton Hall would have to play without senior point guard, Eugene Harvey. Twelve minutes into the game, Jeremy Hazell left the game, bleeding with a deep cut to his shooting hand. No problem. Missing two starters, the Pirates turned to defense (with an assist by putrid 33% SJU shooting) and Jeff Robinson, to lead them to their first road victory in conference play. For the first time in their last six games, the Pirates held their opponent under 44% from the floor, a feat they last accomplished on January 24th at home against Pittsburgh (35%). In yesterday's pre-game notes, I posted:
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.
Seton Hall escaped the horrors of Carnesecca with their biggest win of the year. Sure, a case can be made that Pittsburgh or Louisville were bigger wins, but consider the Pirates were a team badly needing a road victory before finishing 3 of their last 5 on the road. This was a team that unexpectedly lost their primary scoring threat in a heated NY/NJ rivalry just halfway into the first half. Prior to tip-off, they also learned their senior/starter (of the week) point guard would be unavailable.
They could have packed it in and we would have criticized them for doing so. Instead, they rallied. They clawed on defense, dove for loose balls, punched Johnnie's in the nuts (sorry), but most importantly, they played as a team. Everyone contributed, some more than others, but everybody brought something to the table last night. This was a Pirates team that fought to keep their postseason hopes alive, they didn't want to go home thinking NIT and they won't. For now, they'll head to Morgantown in an attempt to solidify their positioning on the Big East bubble. Unfortunately, they might have to make their case without the services of Jeremy Hazell.
The news on Hazell? Not great, but not terrible either. Adam Zagoria, of SNY is reporting that Hazell will miss one week:
Seton Hall junior shooting guard Jeremy Hazell could miss up to a week after sustaining a deep cut on his right [shooting] hand during the Pirates' 59-50 win Wednesday at St. John's. "The doctor said he would be out about a week," a source with direct knowledge said.
Well, write him off against WVU in Morgantown and he'll probably miss Tuesday night against Rutgers as well. The Pirates must split the two games without him and then attempt to win out with a home contest against Marquette, at Rutgers and at Providence.
Bobby also provided an update on injured guard, Eugene Harvey:
"The trainer gave me the impression that there's a decent chance he would play against West Virginia," Gonzalez said. "They did X-rays and there was no fracture or ligament damage. It's a bruised wrist. We're waiting for the swelling to come down and some soreness to leave. They feel he will be in uniform Saturday."
Jeff Robinson picked up the long-distance slack for Hazell, recaps SHU Athletics:
With Hazell's right hand heavily wrapped in gauze, Jeff Robinson picked up the three-point shooting slack. The forward hit a pair of second half treys including one that pushed the Pirates' lead to 10, at 45-35, with 7:45 remaining in regulation. Less than two minutes later, Herb Pope put home a layup and extended the Pirates lead to 49-35, their largest lead of the night, with 5:57 left.
St. John's pulled to within seven on a jumper by Dwight Hardy with 52 seconds remaining, but the Red Storm could get no closer.
The stage was set for an epic battle between the two local rivals, and for much of the contest, it lived up to its billing. The first-half alone featured eight tie scores, a delay for a referee monitor review and a stoppage to clean blood off the floor at the hallowed venue that has served as St. John's on-campus home since 1961.
Bobby Gonzalez is clearly upset that his kids aren't mentioned in the NCAA conversation despite beating the bubble teams that are, as quoted in Prunty's game recap:
"We don't know where we are in terms of the postseason," Gonzalez said. "We have no idea if we have any chance for NCAA or NIT - we have no idea. We have no idea. We beat these teams that are on the bubble, yet no one says Seton Hall's on the bubble. So our kids want to get in the conversation and the only way to do that is to win. And they understand that."
Whether right or wrong, the team has the right mentality, let's keep it that way. In fact, I hope all the analysts sleep on them, no clamoring, YET. That means you Dickie V!
Not only did they look like playground players suddenly confronted with the idea of playing against the Nets, where they were good enough to get shots off but too amped to get them to fall.
They lost to a Seton Hall team that was missing their senior point guard Eugene Harvey and their best scorer, conference leader Jeremy Hazell.
Not only that, but some of the players got into a skirmish with students after the game.
No surprise that Keon Lawrence received another 'Suicide' from Brendan Prunty. What number is that this year? Furthermore, who leads the suicide department, Keon or Gonzo? It's got to be getting close:
Keon Lawrence (2 pts., 4 reb., 4 ast., 3 TOs): I've said it before, but after Wednesday night I'm saying it again - he is a role player on this team. Not a starter. Lawrence was abysmal from the floor and his only bucket came on an uncontested fast-break dunk with 24 seconds left. Oh, and he did a nice bit of showboating on the dunk for someone who was before that, a sterling 0-for-7.
The dunk was ridiculous in two ways. First, It was a beautiful reverse jam, very pretty. Secondly, it actually made me cringe as Keon felt the need to showboat. To quote the Monday Night Football guys... C'MON MAN!
No Harvey, No Hazell, No Problem. Short and to the point, follow the link to Paul Tyahla's Pirate's Plank:
- The Pirates got dragged into St. John's meat-grinder style and demonstrated they could win a messy game with a score in the 50's.
- Jeff Robinson did everything. He hit 7 of 11 shots, drained his first two treys of the season, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked two shots and sparked the SHU run that effectively ended the game. Much of that was possible because he stayed out of foul trouble and was able to play all 40 minutes
Lastly, some tragic news struck the Seton Hall community this morning as former Pirate, Kevin Wilkins died early Thursday. Our condolences go out to the Wilkins family:
Former Seton Hall men's basketball player Kevin Wilkins died early Thursday morning of a gunshot wound, apparently self-inflicted and accidental, while on duty as an Atlantic City Police Officer.
Wilkins was a member of the men's basketball team for two seasons, including the Pirates' memorable run to the NCAA Sweet-16 in 2000. A 2001 graduate of Seton Hall where he was a communications major and criminal justice minor, he had served two years with the Atlantic City Police Force before his death.