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Seton Hall Basketball: JP's Game Preview: St. Joseph's

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No rest for the (possibly) weary here as the Pirates have a very quick turnaround following a feel-good win over VCU. Tonight they go for a shot at the right to play for the Charleston Classic title in the semis tonight against yet another A-10 foe- the Hawks of St. Joseph's.

Here's what you need to know about the Hawks:

St. Joseph's 

2011-12 record: 2-0

All-time series record: 12-17 (30th meeting)

Last meeting: 12/29/95 (81-74 SHU W)

The Hawks are yet another young team for the Pirates to deal with, having faced (and beaten) two already. The difference with St. Joe's, though, is that they have a veteran point guard- junior Carl Jones. He led the Hawks last season with 17.5 PTS and he's upped that to 18.5 PTS so far in St. Joseph's two games this year.

The similarities between Jordan Theodore and Jones is striking this year- both guards are scoring a bunch, and mainly from the free throw line (Jones is 16-16, Theodore 21-22 on FTs this year). The matchup between them, therefore, will be a real early-season treat to watch, and one that if the Pirates come out on top in it, they have an excellent chance of winning.

Aside from Jones, the Hawks are loaded to the gills with sophomores, the most notable of which so far has been Langston Galloway. Galloway is shooting the ball very well so far this year (5-11 from deep) and is averaging 17 PTS as well, giving the Hawks a 1-2 punch at the guard spots. Like last night, Seton Hall will need to pay attention to the Hawks on the perimeter (48% on the year, including 3-4 from 6'9" F CJ Aiken), although the Hawks don't chuck and duck like VCU does.

Down low, St. Joe's has some size. Aiken is a very good shot-blocker (3rd nationally last season), which should present problems for Herb Pope, at least more than usual. Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic, Papa Ndao, and Ronald Roberts (a St. Peter's Prep grad) round out the rotation, and all of them are listed at 6'8". Roberts is the top rebounder at 7 REB while Kacenevic is rebounding almost equally well on offense and defense. Board work, because of the collective size of the bigs for the Hawks, will once again be key. Seton Hall actually has the edge in size from their top-3 bigs, but the Hawks have one more than the Pirates do at the moment. One ray of light in this facet is that the Hawks' opponents are out-rebounding them so far this year thanks to a lot of offensive boards.

Last year, the Hawks were not very good defensively, but they're doing better so far this year, holding opponents to 32% shooting and 5-31 from deep. Their opponents are getting to the line about as frequently as they are, though, so that may be the chink in the armor of the St. Joe's defense.

Seton Hall will win if:

- They contain Jones. Carl Jones has great quickness on the drive, can pull up and shoot the jumper and as I mentioned above, can get to the line at a high rate. I'm not saying the Pirates will stop him, but containing him within 15 or maybe even 20 will give Seton Hall a great chance to make the championship game.

- Pope rules the paint. The fact that the Hawks have gotten out-rebounded is not a good sign for them going up against Pope, the best rebounder they may see all season long. Pope's been solid down low for the Pirates so far with two double-doubles and avoiding the F-word (fouling), will also be key for Seton Hall.

St. Joseph's will win if:

- They avoid fouling. The above defensive numbers for the Hawks seem to indicate that they play good initial defense, but end up giving too many fouls leading to easy points. They hustle on defense but sometimes over-hustle into fouls as well. If they cut down on this, they could pull the (slight) upset.

- They pull Pope away from the paint. Part of St. Joe's early gameplan vs Georgia Tech last night was to use Kanacevic (who can shoot the three) to pull the Yellow Jackets' center away from the basket. They may try to do that with Pope as well if the Pirates play man defense, and that will be a mismatch in the Hawks' favor.