Seton Hall's bubble hasn't been completely refurbished after being shattered against Marquette, but the pieces are lying right on the table ready for assembly a la your everyday jigsaw puzzle. The problem? The table sits in Providence, where the Pirates will attempt to ruin back-to-back senior nights after thrashing Ndiaye and the Scarlet Knights last night in Piscataway. Let's get right to the reactions:
Seton Hall swept the battle of New Jersey for the second consecutive year. Definitely a feat for Bobby Gonzalez, the Pirates and the Seton Hall community to be proud of. More importantly, with an impressive, hard-fought performance, the Pirates have worked their way back onto the bubble's thread. Beat Providence.
After the Scarlet Knights cut the Pirates' lead to one, at 30-29, Herb Pope hit his second three-pointer of the half to send Seton Hall into halftime with a 33-29 lead. Pope had a monster half for the Pirates scoring a team-high 18 points, pulling down nine rebounds and blocking three shots. Hamady Ndiaye and Mike Coburn led Rutgers with six points apiece.
Redshirt junior forward Jonathan Mitchell (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds to lead four Scarlet Knight scorers in double figures, but it was not enough as Rutgers (15-15, 5-12) fell, 85-74, to Seton Hall (17-11, 8-9) Thursday evening at the RAC. RU committed just four turnovers, the programs fewest since 2005, but could not overcome being both out-rebounded and out-shot by the Pirates.
Last night was a, 'Garden Statement,' writes Paul Tyahla. What does it mean for the Pirates?
- It means that with a win on Saturday, combined with a Notre Dame loss at Marquette and a USF loss to UCONN, Seton Hall will be the 8th seed in the Big East Tournament, giving them a first-round bye. Check out Gonzoball's post regarding BET seeding scenarios.
Is it corny to plug your own plug? Sorry. Job well done, Keith.
Handshake lines and sprinting off the court were two stories that made some noise following the final buzzer, as reported by Brendan Prunty:
During the postgame handshake, Rutgers assistant Darren Savino and recruiting coordinator Jim Carr appeared to exchange words with Gonzalez, coming on the heels of the two Seton Hall dunks. Rutgers coach Fred Hill downplayed any exchange between the two staffs, saying only: "I didn't see anything. I just shook hands and kept going."
But the verbal exchange was just one layer of what was an intense Senior Night at the RAC. As the handshake lines began to form, Rutgers freshman Dane Miller - who was fouled hard by Herb Pope in the final seconds of the teams' last meeting on Feb. 23 - sprinted toward the locker room. He avoided the handshakes.
Of course Pope and JRob received game-balls in Prunty's Q&A's, but head coach Bobby Gonzalez finally showed up on the opposiste-side of the, "suicide" award last night:
Bobby Gonzalez: The Seton Hall coach has made some questionable coaching maneuvers this season, but letting Pope do his thing from mid- (and sometimes long) range was the smart play. Pope is a very good scorer down low, which sometimes gets lost in the "Give it to Hazell" gameplan.
I agree with the assessment on Gonzo's strategy with Pope. Rutgers insisted on playing a junk-zone defense that enabled Pope to step out to the perimeter, burning the Scarlet Knights who dared him to shoot it from long-distance. Pope has shown a nice smooth stroke from long-distance, but has struggled hitting his mid-range jumper which has been badly off at times. Still, the 2-for-3 3PT shooting (missed 3-of-4 3PT shooting by an inch) is nice, but I'm still more confident with him around the tin than stepping out regularly.
Hit the Jump for reactions from Carino, Pelzman, LFBall and Friday's comedic treat, courtesy of ESPN
Jerry Carino's recap, Rumble at the RAC, provides all the quotes from both sides following Thursday's heated contest. From the senior, Hamady:
"It always happens between us and Seton Hall. It's like a war, a basketball war, and we always go at it. It's physical and it's a rivalry game. I wish I would've kept my composure more, but I got into the emotion and it happens."
J.P. Pelzman makes a terrific connection between the atmosphere at the RAC and Seton Hall's practices:
But instead of folding because of the audible onslaught, visiting Seton Hall played better. The Pirates are used to being around a loud, animated person every day in practice, so what's a few thousand more?
More on Gonzo, from LFBall's recap:
Lets talk Gonzo and his coaching. I think Gonzo is a very good coach. I feel he loves his players and wants them to do well. Alot of his emotions is based on his climb to the top which is a result of his hard work on the streets of NY for no money, his coaching HS in NYC for no money, his going to every game he could in a beat up car and working every camp he could. In other words he did not get where he is via a shortcut. This is why most NYC basketball guys love him.
I know he looks like a cry baby during certain games. I know he has to learn to treat the staff a bit better (He complained to someone that I said this and the person said I was right lol). But most of this is a result of his COMPETITIVENESS!! I remember another area coach who is a Hall of Famer running around the sidelines like Gonzo does. His name was Lou Carnesecca, who is a wonderful man.
Bobby Gonzales is at the right place at the right time.
Please disregard LFBall's misspelling of Gonzalez's last name, but he provides a few interesting thoughts, although I don't really understand the connection between Carnesecca and Gonzo acting like maniacs, to Carnesecca being a wonderful man, but, I digress.
Finally, some comedy for you on a Friday, from Brian Bennett, a Louisville alumnus:
But I've said for a while now that adding DePaul was a mistake that needs to be corrected, and Seton Hall adds very little to the table. I see no reason to drop Notre Dame; the Irish are a terrific draw in all sports besides football and help with the bowl bids. So, I'd amend your plan and add UCF and East Carolina while dropping DePaul and Seton Hall. That gets you to nine football members if one bolts for the Big Ten, helping scheduling. And the basketball would remain at 16.
Brian's apparently still salty regarding that Cardinals loss in Newark. Have at it.
The Pirates are back in action tomorrow night taking on the Friars in Providence.