On Friday night, the Pirates won their eighth straight defeating the Longwood Lancers, 87-61, in front of 773 fans in Farmville, Virginia. After the Lancers opened with a 17-6 lead that saw them knock down numerous perimeter shots over a soft 2-3 zone, Seton Hall rallied to a 22-20 margin and never looked back. Jordan Theodore led the way, finishing with a career high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, while adding 6ast/4reb/2stl/2to. Whenever the Lancers would pull within 12 or 14 to keep them within a puncher's chance, it was Theodore who responded with a big bucket. Theodore's shot was falling tonight, he hit two from distance, showed nifty moves in penetration, finished the majority of his runners, kept his teammates involved and par for the course, limited his mistakes.
I took a fair amount of questions tonight as to why Herb Pope wasn't more involved for those who couldn't watch the game. Fair question. Although the Pirates made an attempt to get both Pope and Patrik Auda the ball inside early and often, as the game progressed it was Pope's teammates who took over. Longwood was throwing an extra man his way on some touches and Pope made them pay by finding his teammates throughout the night with some spectacular passing. After finishing with 5 assists against Dayton on Wednesday, he followed up 4 tonight. In my opinion, his passing is the most underrated aspect of his game, although he's really been putting it on display in recent games. His final stat line saw him finish just shy of a double-double with 8pts/10reb/4ast/2stl/blk and 5 turnovers. Yes, the turnover rate is too high, though many of them came from Pope doing a litte too much dribbling and penetrating from the perimeter. Although, he needs to improve his handle in that area, it's not something I want to see him cut out of his repertoire. Quite often he'll successfully pump fake, put the ball on the floor take a long stride or two and finish around the rim. He doesn't need to abandon that weapon, just needs to shore it up a bit.
The bench showed up! It was Brandon Mobley who led the Seton Hall reserves and although it was against some terrible competition, we saw encouraging flashes from Mobley tonight including a pair of wide open dunks. Although there wasn't a defender in sight on either one of them, you can't tell me it isn't refreshing to see a Pirate finishing strong on that iron. The freshman made good on 3-of-7 from the floor to finish with 8pts/5reb in his third game as a Pirate. Seton Hall is going to need his depth in conference play and if he can consistently contribute a couple made buckets and 5+ rebounds, he's going to be a tremendously welcome addition to this team. Great job, Brandon.
JP consistently kills it with his nicknames for these players and 'Fuquan the Ninja,' was in true form tonight. He's so smooth and consistent that you just expect him to play well every night, but when looking at the box score, I'm often surprised at what he turns in. Fu is quietly methodical about his business. Tonight, he sank 9-of-12 from the floor and only missed one field goal from inside the arc. Like Pope, Edwin's always contributing in multiple statistical categories, specifically steals, in which he had another 4 tonight to go along with 5 rebounds.
That's it folks. Seton Hall took care of business against their non-conference opponents, finishing 11-1 on the season. Soft scheduling or not, 11 victories in your first 12 games is impressive, even if a few came against some of the worst teams in Division-I basketball. The season is just one week shy of the halfway mark and the easy breathing is over. Ten days from tomorrow and we're going to have a better idea of what this team is made of. They absolutely cannot strike out against Syracuse, Connecticut and West Virginia. Syracuse is going to be ready on Wednesday after Willard's crew stormed the Carrier Dome last year and embarrassed the Orange, making the two home games against UConn and West Virginia all the more important. The Pirates have defeated all the teams thrown in front of them, sans Northwestern on a neutral court, in which they were playing their third game in four days. Although the competition is about to be kicked up a notch (or three), there's no reason not to believe in this team. As always, Let's Go Seton Hall and Merry Christmas!