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The Day After: Pirates Hold Off Scarlet Knights and Hold On to Postseason Dream

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Despite being soundly outplayed in the second hall, Seton Hall (16-10, 7-8) did enough over the course of the first 20 minutes to at least extend their season through Sunday.  After defeating Rutgers (14-14, 4-11) at home, the Pirates will close their home schedule on Sunday as Marquette will come to Newark on Senior Day.  As always, when the two intrastate rivals clash, everyone is talking about it.   

If you missed it last night, GB's post game thoughts praised Herb Pope's last second, "message:"

It really doesn't matter who sees the film, the message has been sent. No easy points in BIG EAST PLAY. Not when the season is on the line, not in a win-or-go-home situation, not against your intrastate rival. Job well done, Pope, Gonzo Ball to Herb for the final 0.1 seconds alone.

SHU Recap:

As most Seton Hall and Rutgers men's basketball fans know, no lead is safe when these teams get together and Tuesday night was no different. The Pirates led by as many as 18-points in the first half, but had to hold off a pesky Scarlet Knight team in the second to earn a 76-70 victory at Prudential Center.

It's pretty incredible how these games always end up close in the final minutes.  Four of the last five SHU/Rutgers contests have been decided by 6 points or less.  

Hazell may have taken too many 3PT attempts, but he did hit his share of big shots both early and late as reported by RU Athletics:

Hazell hit two quick treys to increase Seton Hall's lead to 57-43. SHU remained in the driver's seat for the next five minutes before RU began to steal the momentum. With the Pirates leading 68-55, the Scarlet Knights went on a 9-0 run. Behind six Rosario points, Rutgers decreased its deficit to four points, 68-64, with 2:37 remaining in the game.

Brendan Prunty's recap has the quotes from Herb Pope who referenced the last second foul as a, "hard rivalry foul:"

"I just thought it was a hard foul, a rivalry game foul," Pope said afterward. "My teammates were juiced. (Earlier) he had a tremendous put-back dunk, so we knew what was going to happen. He didn't have to showcase it again and try and do a trick dunk at the end of the game. That's embarrassing to us."

As you could tell from my write-up last night, I loved it.  It was inspirational basketball.  This is the type of film SHU needs to show future recruits.  Come to Seton Hall and you'll play hard to the end.

Another quality contribution from Prunty, it's The Tip-In: 

GAME BALLS
Eugene Harvey (10 pts., 4 ast., 3 reb.): Came up with two of the biggest plays of the night when Seton Hall needed them most. First, the layup which stopped the bleeding for the Pirates and then the steal of James Beatty. Not bad for a guy with a bruised wrist.

Jordan Theodore (12 pts., 6 ast., 3 reb.): He was tremendous in the first half, but honestly his biggest contribution of the night was locking up Mike Rosario. That was the toughest task of the game and Theodore did a masterful job on it.

Eugene Harvey's presence back in the starting lineup was a welcome sight.  Despite struggling with an increase in TOs early in the season, Harvey's still the team's floor general.  He's the best finishing PG on the roster, dangerous in the open floor and makes good decisions (for the most part) on the break.  The offense runs a heck of a lot smoother when he's on the court. Whether or not he shows up in the box score with a ton of dimes, the ball movement is generally a lot better with him on the floor than when he's on the sideline.  

Seton Hall is walking the tightrope and they better be careful writes Roger Rubin of NY Daily News:

It's a tightrope walk. One misstep and Seton Hall's hopes of making the NCAA Tournament will plunge.

The Pirates avoided a close call in Tuesday night's renewal of the Turnpike War, prevailing, 76-70, over Rutgers at The Rock in Newark.

The Pirates are the best team in the metro-area according to David Satriano of the NY Post: 

"I can't wait for the day that metro area basketball is something that is very special," Rutgers head coach Fred Hill Jr. said. "I talk about Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, and I think a rivalry is great, but it's really going to take off when our programs collectively are fighting for something."

LF Ball doesn't hold anything back in regards to the atmosphere at The Rock:

I cannot believe the annual games between SHU and RU do not attract at least 15,000 to the Prudential Center and 8500 to the RAC. Unbelievable and a piss poor job by who ever is marketing the games. Maybe they should sell the game in Newark to a outside company who would in return gain from TV revenue, attendance and special sponsorship packages. This should be the one game a year where the curtain comes down.

The excitement level was just not there. Maybe folks were just cooling out but where is that great spirit of college sports?

Game at Rutgers should be a good one with a better student presence. I also expect a sellout for that game and alot of excitement.

For the most part, I think Ball is dead on.  Obviously they can't sell the game to an outside company, but SHU marketing clearly needs work. Terrible attempts at humor on T-shirts and multiple versions of a bobble head isn't going to get it done.  It goes beyond the marketing department and we also have to look to the fans. There is no reason why Seton Hall's main rivalry game shouldn't be sold out.  Why are there so many empty seats? Five minutes into the first half and the amount of empty seats on both sides (center) of the arena was unacceptable. Not in a game of this magnitude, when the Pirates are facing a win-or-go-home situation.  Furthermore, can the fans stop sitting on their hands? Have they forgot to chant, "defense?"  It was entirely too quiet last night, especially late in the game. With Rutgers making their push, pulling within 4 with just over 2 minutes to play, the decibel level at The Rock needs to be blistering. Hopefully the fans will give their seniors a better effort on Sunday, however, given the early start, I have my doubts.  

Hit the jump for more from: The Setonian, NBE, SNY, Robbins, Carino, Pelzman and Tyahla.

The Pirates take round one, a quote-filled recap by Zachary Cziryak of the Setonian ensues:

The Pirates held off a late charge by the Scarlet Knights in the final minutes and an intentional foul call in the final second Tuesday night to close out a 76-70 victory at the Prudential Center. Jeremy Hazell led four Pirates in double-figures with 25 points on 9-22 shooting from the floor.

"We took off like a rocket," sophomore guard Jordan Theodore said. "We were sharing the ball and making plays."

NBE Basketball Report provides two keys to Seton Hall's success:

1. As noted the Pirates got off to a blazing start. Bobby Gonzalez's troops jumped out to a 28-10 lead just over eight minutes into the contest.

2. The lead was never lost. Rutgers gradually settled down and got back in the contest. Down the stretch it was a two possession game (as close as 68-64 with just under three minutes left).

Follow the link to NBE's story, there's much more to these first two points.  A good read.  

Tourney hopes are still alive.  Barley.  From Adam Zagoria:

Seton Hall entered the day in a pack of teams with 6-8 league marks just outside of the top eight. The top eight teams in the Big East get a first-round bye, and the top four get a double-bye.

Seven Big East teams are in the NCAA tournament, according to Palm.

Whether eight or nine league teams make it remains to be seen. UConn is also 7-8 in the league after its win Tuesday over No. 8 West Virginia.

"We have a lot of lions in this league eating their young," Gonzalez said. "Basically our conference sometimes puts people on the bubble and takes teams and puts them out of the NCAA tournament."

UConn and SHU are tied at 7-8, however, given the strength of UConn's resume, you'd have to believe the Pirates will need to finish two games better than the Huskies if the final bid is to be decided between them.  It's scoreboard watching time.  

They were laughing on tobacco road writes Lenn Robbins:

They must have been laughing on Tobacco Road if they were watching last night's Rutgers-Seton Hall game.
You call this a rivalry?! Seton Hall gets out to an 18-point lead and coasts, and that's a rivalry? Remember when Gerald Henderson bloodied Tyler Hansbrough's nose? That's a rivalry.

Jerry Carino gives Gonzo credit for his handling of the rotation:

-Once again, Gonzo did a good job handling his rotation. He used 10 guys in the first half and pushed the right buttons in the end-game. The Pirates' spotty free-throw shooting reared its head again though. Can't miss three one-and-ones against Marquette and live to tell about it.

J.P. Pelzman writes that senior day came early at The Rock last night:

Seton Hall's official Senior Day is Sunday against Marquette. The unofficial one was Tuesday night against Rutgers. Senior point guard Eugene Harvey made two huge plays after the Scarlet Knights cut an 18-point deficit to four late in the second half, and senior center John Garcia helped keep Rutgers' 7-footer Hamade Ndiaye from dominating the offensive boards as the Pirates held on for a 76-70 victory at Prudential Center.

Eugene Harvey made two huge plays with the game on the line.  Paul Tyahla recaps the senior's performance late in the game:

Eugene Harvey - Bobby Gonzalez's first recruit at Seton Hall - has never been to an NCAA Tournament, but came up big to keep a flicker of hope that he can still change that. When his team's lead was cut to four, Harvey drove to the basket for a layup. On the next possession, he stole the ball from James Beatty to start a fast break that helped seal the game with 1:48 remaining.

Lastly, off topic, but Seton Hall cut their track and field program tonight:

Four athletic teams - men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field - will be eliminated effective July 1. In keeping with NCAA and Title IX requirements that the University field 14 sports teams, women's golf will be added.

I understand the economy's tough, but still, a sad day for the University.  A Big East school without a track and field team? Let's hope a move to the A-10 isn't next. 

Seton Hall is back in action this Sunday at The Rock taking on the Golden Eagles on Senior Day.