Well how about that, huh?
Seton Hall defeated VCU on Thursday night at TD Arena in Charleston to advance to the winner's bracket at the Charleston Classic along with Northwestern, Tulsa, and St. Joseph's (who defeated Georgia Tech in the game following the Pirates' win). They have a quick turnaround tomorrow facing the Hawks at 6 PM (my preview will be up later today, so watch for that), but before that happens, let's look at this game, a nice win over the Cinderella team from VCU.
1. Theodore the Leadore
For most of this game, and nearly all of the second half, VCU threw on a full court press to try and get some easy points in transition (the reason why is coming up). Save a few dumb miscues, the Pirates broke the press with regularity and aplomb and this is because of Theodore. He was steady with the ball all game long (and he did have the ball for most of this contest anyway). The VCU press by and large didn't do its job because when the Rams wanted to speed the Pirates up into overdrive, Theodore kept pumping the brakes, preventing the young Pirates from being sucked into the Rams' tempo. Haralds Karlis also helped in this regard, taking several inbounds passes because the Rams started keying on Theodore, then getting the ball back to the senior from Englewood.
Oh, and he went 12-12 from the free throw line, setting career-highs in both makes and attempts from the stripe. He's shooting an insane 21-22 so far this year. If any stat speaks to the steady hand of the Pirates' point guard it's that one.
2. Pope's Paint Job
Herb Pope had another very good game. His shooting percentage would have been better if not for FOUR threes (about four too many), but with 20 PTS and 13 REB, he controlled the paint all night long. His 13 rebounds were equal to those of Juvonte Reddic, Bradford Burgess, D.J. Haley and Darius Theus (4 of the VCU starting 5) COMBINED.
Theodore will get much of the credit for being the leader of this team because point guard is such a natural leadership position on the floor, but improved play from Pope has been just as big. He's been just as much of a rock as Theodore so far, and expecting a double-double every game is definitely not out of the question.
3. Fu- Man Shooter
Fuquan Edwin nailed 4 threes on the night (the only 4 of the game for the Pirates) en route to 18 PTS, one off his career-high. He also had 9 REB for good measure, and 3 STL on the defensive end. I think it's sort of unfair to call him a glue guy, but his production is like a ninja- it just sneaks up on you. You don't notice the stats until you look at a box score and say 'woah- he did that?' When Edwin makes threes like he did Thursday, the Pirates' Dynamic Duo becomes a Terrific Trio, and that makes them that much more difficult to defend against.
4. Back to the Preview
The two things I said that the Pirates would have done if they won this game were defend the perimeter and rebound the ball. Well, not to toot my own horn, but I was right. The Hall outrebounded the rams 38-31 (including 12 boards from wings Edwin and Karlis, another point from the Preview) and held the Rams to 6-21 from deep, including 2-11 in the first half.
That first half was stifling in terms of defense. The Pirates used a very active 2-3 zone most of the game with very good rotations. It held the Rams to just 19% shooting in the first half (6-32). If they play defense like they did last night, maybe they don't really need more offense. That's how good the D was against the Rams.
5. Euro Report
We've already mentioned Karlis' main contribution. Patrik Auda was having a great game, with 7 PTS in just 17 minutes before becoming one of the first victims of the new NCAA Flagrant Foul Rules. Auda was ejected for an elbow (an inadvertant one, I must say) to the head of a VCU defender and by rule, any swinging of the elbow above the shoulders is a Flagrant 2, meaning an automatic ejection. Auda was not restricted by this in Europe, so he probably was not aware of the rule. So we'll all move on, especially since it didn't mean much in the final result.
Aaron Geramipoor also looked better tonight. He finished with 4 REB in 9 minutes, a good pace for a center. He also was smart on the rotations in the Pirate zone. When Auda went out, the Hall needed both him and the wings to step up, and Geramipoor did his part by being a lane-clogger and presence inside for the Pirates.
That's all for now. Again, stay tuned for more coverage of the Charleston Classic later today as I preview the matchup with St. Joseph's.