Hope everyone was prepared for that early afternoon nail biter. Seton Hall finished their non-conference slate at the Rock undefeated in a unsettling 80-77 victory over the Mercer Bears on Sunday afternoon. Although there was no Vegas odds due to Seton Hall's, "easy" opponent, if you read our pre-game report, we told you this wouldn't be a walk in the park. Although, I expected a close contest, I also thought Seton Hall's edge in talent would will them to a victory after 30+ minutes of play. Not so fast. The Mercer Bears nearly shot their way to a victory in regulation, converting ten 3-pointers as Seton Hall was repeatedly late on rotations and saw their soft zone abused throughout the afternoon.
Herb Pope put a firm grip on regaining his title as the conference's leading scorer and rebounder and well, it's best player. Honestly, is there any doubt through the Pirates first ten games that Pope is the best player in the Big East? I'm beginning to feel like a broken record because he keeps on churning out phenomenal performances like friggin' clockwork. The big fella finished with a ridiculous 24pts/17reb stat line, hitting 9-of-17 from the floor and converting 6-of-8 from the line. What weakness in his game? There is none. As his NBA draft stock continues to rise, so do his teammates on his shoulders. Jordan Theodore may be the team's captain, but Herb Pope is an unquestioned leader, it's just a joy to watch him play wearing our blue-and-white.
All five of the Seton Hall starters finished in double-figures tonight, I'm not sure the last time that's happened, albeit, we did play an extra period. After a string of terrific performances, Jordan Theodore returned to earth a bit tonight, failing to find his shot (5-of-18), though he did finish with a solid 6ast/5reb/2stl/3to. Though 6ast/3to is hardly anything to sneeze at, something was just off. He didn't look like the spectacular distributor and facilitator that we've come to expect from watching his play this season. Speaking of something being off, the bench continues to be... off. As is the story for this club on most nights, the bench struggled and finished with just 5 points coming off of one Haralds Karlis field goal in 38 minutes played. No, this bench isn't expected to light it up every week in order to win games, but sooner than later, they're going to have to contribute. Something. I said that last week, no?
All in all, we'll chalk it up to an early Sunday afternoon contest where our guys just weren't as prepared as they've been in recent games. Yes, there's no denying they played down to their competition and let them hang around late in the ballgame and into overtime. It would be unrealistic to think they can bring the same intensity and preparation into each and every game, but the key is how they rebound from these performances moving forward. On Wednesday, the Pirates will face their toughest opponent of the young season, on the road, in a hostile environment. Let's hope they got the lackadaisical play out of their system now and will get back to playing a crisper brand of basketball in Ohio.
That's it for now. Look for Rob's comments in this thread as he returns home from the game and JP's 5 thoughts coming later tonight/tomorrow morning. One last plug, make sure you tune into Pirate Primetime at 7PM on WSOU.net hosted by SOJ & WSOU's own Jason Guerrette.