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Post-Game Thoughts: Seton Hall 71, Villanova 81. Was the White Flag Waved?

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Update 11:12PM

From Jerry Carino:

On benching Hazell with four minutes left: "I understand he has a lot of pride and he was trying to win the game, he had 32 points and he really was our only guy who was scoring. But you just can’t go 1-on-5 and be putting your head down and complaining to the refs on every call and taking bad shots. It’s not good for the team, the offense, the coaching staff, it’s just not good. It’s not the way you want to play college basketball. I wouldn’t be doing a good job if I allowed him to do that—I’m not teaching him, I’m not helping him. So I took him out."

"I said, ‘Jeremy you can go one-on-one and be forceful and press and look for some shots, but you can’t come down every time and take bad double-clutch shots. You don’t get points for degree of difficulty with guys tackling you, and then complaining to the officials, because even the officials got frustrated. So it was just a chance for me to be a leader and maybe teach him something. Hopefully he learned from it."

A chance to be a leader? By all but forfeiting the game with the only scoring threat on the bench? Would Bobby have benched Hazell had he made the last 3 shots in question? No, he wouldn't have and Seton Hall would have still been alive in the final minutes.  Instead, Gonzo didn't even give his team a chance to win by benching Hazell, that's not leadership, it's bad decision making.  If Gonzalez is going to let Hazell get away with taking bad shots and making them without reprimanding the kid, it's awfully hard to turn the tables on the player when his shots aren't falling.  I really hope Jeremy doesn't go all John Wall on Gonzalez in this situation.  That being said, tonight's decision from coach Gonzalez may ultimately be just one of many that steers Hazell into the league next year.  I hope I'm wrong, but I don't know if I can blame the kid after what we saw tonight.  

From Brendan Prunty:

The Pirates coach said that since he got into Hazell afterward, Gonzalez didn’t make him available for comment: "I didn’t think he was in the best spirits for the media.

Also known as:  "I didn't want Hazell to rightfully blast me following the game, so I wouldn't let him speak to the media."   Well played Gonzo.  

Original Post:

-7 second possessions.  As Len Elmore put it, "Villanova will fast break you into submission."  That's exactly what happened tonight, TKO by way of fast-break.  How many times did Villanova score on 7 second (or less) possessions tonight?  I'd be willing to bet at least 20 times.  There was no stopping the Villanova run.  They ran and scored buckets at will as Seton Hall looked unprepared and unwilling to get back on defense and attempt to make stops. Were we not ready for the Wildcats to run and put up quick shots around the basket? It didn't look like it.  Did we watch tape on the Wildcats offensive game? It's hard to tell, Seton Hall looked lost at times trying to get back on defense.  

-Wave the white flag? Throw in the towel? Give up?

It's painfully obvious that Gonzo saw enough as he benched Hazell with the Pirates down 13 and 4:05 on the clock. You read that correctly, Gonzalez benched the only efficient player for Seton Hall tonight at the most critical point of the game.  Hazell was good for 32PTS on 12-of-23FG, 6-of-12 3PT & 3REB/2STL, but when Bobby came back from a 30 second timeout he placed Jeremy on the pine.  I'd like to think Coach was benching him for not getting back on defense, but I firmly believe that wasn't the case.  

Was Bobby Gonzalez waving the white flag? I still can't fathom what he was thinking with this decision.  This is a Seton Hall team that came back down 10 against WVU in just over a minute to force OT.  Why the lack of confidence tonight? Troubling, to say the least.  

Furthermore, if Gonzo is trying to send a message to Hazell for taking and missing contested shots (two at the 6 minute mark and one at the 4:27 mark) who exactly is it sending a message to? What kind of message does the benching send? Hazell was the only Pirate on the floor who could make shots, he was the only reason they were in the game as there were no other players in double digits.  Everyone on the team except Hazell and Stix were shooting terribly from the floor.  I'll be the first to get on Hazell for shooting us out of a game, but when you're down 13 and he's the only player on the floor who can score is it fair to punish the rest of your team by benching your only threat?  The rest of the team should be punished for taking and missing open jumper after open jumper.  At this point, I feel more comfortable with Jeremy taking contested jumpers in an attempt to keep us in the game than anyone else taking WIDE OPEN JUMPERS and missing them! 

-Harvey, was inserted into the game early in the first half as Keon picked up two early fouls.  A case can be made that Harvey was the best Seton Hall PG on the floor tonight after finishing with 9PTS/7AST/3REB/4TO on 3-of-8 shooting. He didn't shoot well, he took his fair share of wild layups that had no chance and he turned the ball over too many times.  Still, the point guard play was so bad tonight that he may win by default.

Keon Lawrence only shot 3 attempts and his only made FG was a layup.  Hey, at least he shot 33% tonight, that'll boost his average tonight.  Maybe the Keon Lawrence experiment is ending as Bobby rode the senior and Keon sat after only seeing 16 minutes.  The touted, "human-pogo stick" finished the night with 3PTS/2BLK/0REB/0AST/3TO.

Last, but far from least, Jordan Theodore.  In the first half he drew two nice charging fouls on a pair of Wildcats, however, JT is still shooting terribly from the floor.  Not only is he shooting poorly, but his confidence is shot.  He's hesitating on open jumpers and instead, he's looking to pass away instead of puling the trigger on his open J's.  I'll go as far as saying that it's not only JT, Keon and Harvey are also playing without any confidence.  Harvey, lost a piece of his from coming off of the bench in his senior season after starting his entire career.  Keon and Jordan can only have so many off games shooting the rock before they start over thinking open jump shots, which we've been seeing more and more of over recent play.  JT's final line: 5PTS/5AST/4REB/3TO on 2-of-8 shooting!

Our 3 PGs shot a wonderful 6-of-19 tonight, with their made FGs coming mostly on, you guessed it, lay-ups! I would give anything to see one of our PGs pull up from 18 feet and hit a clean jump shot.  Please guys, just once against Pittsburgh, I've forgotten what it looks like.  

-Stat of the night: Rebounds.  Villanova's undersized and inexperienced frontcourt notched 43 (16 offensive), while we only managed 26.  That'll do it.  

-With the game tied at 62 and 8:30 left on the clock, the Wildcats reeled off a 16-4 run to put the Pirates to sleep.  Seen it all before.  

-There wasn't a single Wildcat who recorded a monster game, as they wouldn't need it.  Team basketball can get the job done.  Instead, they had a few, very good, balanced games. 

Congratulations to Scottie Reynolds who dropped his 2,000th point tonight.  What a storied career for the senior, you've got to love watching this kid play.  When it's not against your team.  Reynolds finished with 15PTS/5AST/4REB/STL/BLK/3TO after being held to just 2 points by JT and Keon at the half.  

Antonio Pena (16PTS/8REB) won the battle against Herb Pope (6PTS/7REB/3BLK/3AST) tonight, in the battle of the 6'8 bigs.  

-The Wildcats had 3 players off of their bench pull down 5REB a piece: Stokes, Armwood, Yarou, whereas the Pirates entire bench accumulated, yep, 5REB.  

Let's hear it Bobby.  Much more to come in tomorrow's day after post.