By defeating Providence on Saturday night, 92-80, the Pirates (18-11, 9-9) have earned the right to play the Friars in a rematch on Tuesday night in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Jordan Theodore stepped up tremendously with a career high 8AST, while leading the team with 21PTS. It's definitely encouraging that the team is playing their best basketball of the season as they embark on MSG next week, however, let's take it one game at a time.
Tonight's game means absolutely nothing if they falter on Tuesday. Providence, on the other hand, will only be playing for pride in the BET, whereas the Pirates are playing for a postseason berth. You'd like to believe that overconfidence wouldn't be an issue given the circumstances, but after beating PC in their house, on senior day, by 12 points, I'm going to worry.
Seton Hall kept the pressure on and a pair of free throws by junior Robert Mitchell with only 1:26 remaining in the game gave the Pirates their largest lead of the night, 86-69. The Friars would not get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Freshman guard Vincent Council (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led the Friars with a career-high 25 points and added six rebounds and four assists, while senior guard Sharaud Curry (Gainesville, Ga.) recorded 19 points in his final home game as a Friar. Freshman forward/center Bilal Dixon (Jersey City, N.J.) added his fourth double-double of the season, recording 11 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for PC.
"I can't wait," said Pope, who scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. "Like Jay-Z said, big lights will inspire me, ...I'm going to be juiced, man. That's MSG, man."
I love the attitude from the Pope of South Orange, but I believe it was Alicia Keys that sung it in Jay's song.
Speaking of Pope, he's been named to the final BIG EAST Honor Roll:
Pope averaged 17.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game in a pair of Seton Hall victories this week. Pope tied a career-high with 22 points and 18 rebounds in an 85-74 victory at Rutgers on Thursday. On Saturday at Providence, Pope tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds. The performances were double-doubles #11 and #12 this season. Overall, Pope averaged 11.1 rebounds per game this season becoming the first Pirate ever to lead the BIG EAST Conference in the category.
Pope has been killing the competition over the last week. It looks like, Bobby's early anointment of, "Death, Taxes and a Pope double-double" is back after a two month hiatus. The reports of his tired legs have been greatly exaggerated.
For reactions from Bobby Gonzalez and the players following the game, check out J.P. Pelzman's recap:
"We wanted to finish the [regular] season strong," Theodore said.
Pope noted how the Pirates beat two teams celebrating senior night this week, including Rutgers on Thursday, after the Hall had lost its final regular-season home game to Marquette last Sunday.
"We told [senior] John [Garcia], 'Let's get two wins for the one we lost," " a smiling Pope said.
Bobby Gonzalez wouldn't be surprised if Tuesday's contest is much closer than last night's, writes Kevin McNamara:
Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez noted that both teams came into Saturday a bit tired after playing Thursday night. Now they'll have a bit more time to not only rest but prepare for each other once again.
"This will be a very different, unique experience," said Gonzalez. "We can't look ahead. I think it will be a tougher game for both teams. I wouldn't be surprised to see a tough, hard-fought game."
The Pirates have work left to do in the city, according to Brian Wisowaty of the Setonian:
Seeking some déjà vu, it's the Friars on deck for the men's basketball team for the second straight game.
In need of wins to bolster a questionable NCAA Tournament resume, Seton Hall will cross the river and head to the 2010 Big East Tournament starting on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Brendan Prunty breaks down the All BIG EAST selections, with a focus on the garden state presence among the finalists:
A total of five players with New Jersey ties have been named to the league's all-conference teams it was announced Sunday. Newark native Da'Sean Butler of West Virginia was a first-team all-Big East selection, joining five others on the team.
The Big East's second team was highlighted by the only player from Seton Hall or Rutgers to make the list: Pirates junior guard Jeremy Hazell. Joining Hazell was Scotch Plains native and Seton Hall Prep product Ashton Gibbs of Pittsburgh.
Lastly, in looking at the NCAA Tournament picture, Prunty has the Pirates listed under, "work to do:"
Work to do
Seton Hall (18-11, 9-9)
Old logic would say that 10 Big East wins gets you in, but in the Pirates' case, it won't be the case. In all likelihood, Seton Hall will need to get to the semifinals to assure themselves of a spot in the field. Beating Providence (RPI: 126) for the second time in four days isn't enough. A win over Notre Dame on Wednesday not only puts the Pirates in prime spot, but eliminates their stiffest competition on the bubble. Beating Pitt in the quarterfinals is enough to overcome a non-conference schedule that included five games against teams with an RPI of 250 or above.
Not sure I agree with it, but as of right now, noted bracketologist Jerry Palm has Seton Hall IN as a 12 seed.
The Pirates are next in action, Tuesday night at 7PM, taking on Providence in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament.