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Post Game Thoughts: Seton Hall 109, Providence 106 as Pirates Survive Late Collapse

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-Complacency, complacency, complacency.  I could really end the post-game thoughts with that, but we'll dive into it.  It was a sloppy one.  

With 13:36 left in the second half, Providence (12-20, 4-15) called a full timeout, trailing Seton Hall (19-11, 10-9) by 29 points, 76-47.  At that point, Seton Hall mentally checked out of the game and started preparing for Notre Dame on Wednesday.  Just 13 minutes later, the Pirates found themselves defending a Providence possession that gave the Friars a chance to tie the game in the final 7 seconds.  How was it possible that PC reeled off a 59-33 run in the final 13 minutes? It started with Seton Hall's offensive possessions.  

An efficient offensive effort over the course of 27 minutes, turned into borderline outright chaos.  Gone was the pretty ball movement that was so prevalent in the first half.  Gone was the concentrated effort to run the offense through Pope, which led to his career-high 27PTS.  Instead, Seton Hall took poor shot attempt after poor shot attempt, failing to milk their possessions with effective clock management.  Had the Pirates attempted to take 25 seconds off the shot clock on each possession over the last 13 minutes, Providence would have never had a chance to score 59 points in 13 minutes. Never. This is basic strategy, yet the lack of execution nearly cost us the game.  

Although costly, you can't blame the entire collapse on blundered offensive possessions and clock management. Turnovers and missed free throws certainly played an equally large role in this near-disaster. Seton Hall shot just 2-of-6 from the charity stripe over the final 42 seconds.  The majority of the Providence damage was already done, but if The Hall shot at least .500 down the stretch, they would have avoided the final heart-wrenching, breath holding, on the verge of vomiting, Providence possession.  We learned one thing from the 2009-2010 Pirates team, nothing comes easy.  No, not even closing out 29 point leads.  

Onto the turnover front.  The Pirates led 101-91, with 2:35 to play when Keno Davis once again called for a full timeout. Despite the lack of press throughout the game, Providence emerged from the timeout a frenzied club, shocking Seton Hall into committing a slew of turnovers.  A slew is a massive understatement, as they committed four within a scoreless minute and five in the final two minutes as they watched their commanding lead disappear before their eyes.  The final two minutes were extremely surprising as Seton Hall is usually very good against the press.  Their inbound attempts were careless and lazy as were their attempts to push the ball up court through the press.

The Seton Hall faithful made it halfway into the 2nd half, feeling extremely confident.  Entering the BET on consecutive road victories, the Pirates were seemingly playing their best basketball of the season. Their defense had been two steps quicker than their opponent and their offense had been rolling even with their leading scorer in a world of foul trouble. Lately, Pope's play had returned to a state of BIG EAST dominance, JRob had established himself as a viable second option and JT suddenly started hitting every jumper and 3PT attempt in sight. There was reason to be exuberant.  Yet, as we've learned, nothing comes easy when you suffer from complacency.  Instead of going into tomorrow's rematch with Notre Dame with an extreme confidence high, the Pirates will enter MSG on Wednesday with extreme caution. Maybe tonight's scare will prove beneficial after all.  

On to the player breakdowns: 

-For the first time tonight, a GonzoBall will be split between a Pirate and the opposition.  Herb Pope and Jamine Peterson a re your recipients. Regarding Pope, he recorded his third straight double-double tonight with 27PTS/11REB/4AST, on 10-of-16 shooting, before fouling out with 3 minutes to play.  Death, Taxes and a Pope double-double is alive and well.  Where are those who made so much noise about his tried legs, playing out of position and wearing down due to the late season BIG EAST rigors? Nonsense.  The man said the big lights would inspire him and tonight he put forth a truly inspiring performance.  

Jamine Peterson, single-handedly, yes single-handedly, kept the Friars alive.  He was the only interested party as his teammates were on the verge of losing by 40PTS with just over ten minutes remaining in the game. Peterson finished with 38PTS/16REB(10OFF)/3AST/BLK, on 14-of-25 shooting.  It was probably one of the greatest BET performances in a losing effort as the BIG EAST honorable-mention sophomore, finished just 2PTS/4REB shy of a 40-20! 

-What more can be said about Jordan Theodore? Our PGs couldn't buy a jump shot earlier in the year and our team struggled mightily as a unit.  When a team can utilize a PG as a threat to pull-up and hit jumpers or 3PT attempts, it opens up plenty of options on the offensive end over the course of the game.  Seton Hall doesn't just benefit on the scoreboard when JT is making his shots, their other options also reap the benefits as the defense will need to respect Theodore's shot.  Tonight, he was good on 7-of-11 shot attempts for 21PTS, while going a perfect, 4-of-4 from downtown.  He also added: 6AST/STL/REB/BLK/2TO in another impressive performance.  

-Eugene Harvey contributed 12PTS/4REB/4AST on 4-of-5 shooting, despite committing 4TO.  You've got to pull for Harvey and Garcia to make their first NCAA Tournament in their last season at The Hall.  You can tell Harvey wants it bad.  Pulled early in the game after throwing the ball out of bounds for his first turn over, an assistant tried to hand Eugene a bottle of gatorade.  In a fit of frustration he slapped the bottle out of his area.  You could tell Harvey was clearly upset with himself and wanted back into the game.  Gonzo made the right move and got his senior right back on the floor in an attempt to right his wrong.  Eugene did turn the ball over too much, but he still played well, nonetheless.  

-Outscored by both Pope and JT, Jeremy Hazell finished with a quiet 18PTS on an efficient 5-of-9 shooting, while converting 8-of-10 of his FT attempts.  The team has proved they can win without Hazell lighting up the scoreboard, in fact, their offense is much more potent when the entire team is involved.  Recently, we've seen defensive efforts to take Hazell completely out of the game and it'll be interesting to see which poison ND will pick tomorrow.  Will they concentrate on Hazell, leaving SHU's other options to take advantage? Or will they play somewhat straight-up accounting for Seton Hall's newfound offensive balance?  I've still got my money on the former.  

-Another impressive performance from JRob.  Have we come to expect anything less?  Night in, night out, he brings his best effort and tonight was no exception.  Robinson finished with 15PTS/6REB, despite missing two critical FTs with 7 seconds left that would have iced the game.  A 70% shooter from the line, JRob faced the biggest moment of his basketball career and he choked.  It happens.  Seton Hall still escaped with the victory.  I have the utmost confidence that he'll respond with another impressive performance tomorrow night.  Why wouldn't I? We've come to expect it and nothing less.  

-Lastly, John Garcia doesn't want to go home.  He's playing every game like it's literally his last. It may be just that.  John Garcia toughed out 15 minutes of game time, logging 8PTS/2REB/2BLK.  Honorable Gonzo Ball to the senior.  

All your box score needs.  

We'll see you tomorrow at 7PM for Notre Dame.  As always, Let's Go Hall!