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Seton Hall Basketball: JP's 5 Thoughts- SHU 81, Auburn 59

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Betcha can't guess what Herb Pope (15) did with this inbounds pass... (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Betcha can't guess what Herb Pope (15) did with this inbounds pass... (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
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What else can you say about Seton Hall's 22-point, good old-fashioned BEAT DOWN of the Auburn Tigers?

The offense? Great!

The defense? Tremendous!

The students? Speedo-rific!

Here are the 5 Thoughts from a prime time thrashing of the Tigers:

- Get Auda his way

We talked before how Patrik Auda had somehow lost his confidence and aggression following a flagrant foul in Charleston. He was tentative, passive, etc...

Well, let's throw that one away. Auda scored all of his career-high 17 PTS after the intermission and was the toast of the town for his drive and determination in the second stanza. Auda said afterwards that in the first half, he was focusing on defense, and looking back on the tape, that was true. He played really good defense in that first half. But he got on board and helped out a perpetually double-teamed Herb Pope by taking the reins and being aggressive. Give him a game ball because he deserved it.

- Overrated?????

One online publication, in their preview of the Big East, called Herb Pope overrated.

You may now commence chewing on that crow, whoever had the notion to print that.

The senior, who may just be the best player in the Big East right now, put up his customary double- double, this one of 23 PTS and 12 REB. But this year, unlike years past, that's not all his Popeliness is doing. He also had 2 AST, 3 STL, 3 BLK and 2 charges drawn in this game. He's super-sized his double-doubles with those peripheral stats, the stats that aren't mentioned unless someone has like 7 of them. It's truly a sight to behold, as that tantalizing potential that he showed back in high school is finally resurfacing.

And isn't it fitting that in a league that started as a Catholic school basketball league, the guy with the last name 'Pope' is dominating?

- Scoring Points without Scoring PTS

A few callers who kept it PG-rated on Hall Line after the game said that they wanted to see more scoring from Jordan Theodore, who had an off-night from the field (0-6, 3 PTS). That's fine, and certainly once the big boys start coming around, 3 PTS from one of your best players probably won't cut it.

But we're really picking nits there, and that's because the leadership job that Theodore did against the Tigers was not only amazing to see, but it was effective despite his lack of scoring. It was the best "pure" point guard game that I've ever seen him play. When you consider the score, and Theodore's 10 AST, 2 TO, and 3 STL, not to mention his normal great defense, how can you really talk about his 3 PTS with a straight face? Theodore was happier with the win and the team's performance.

- Dr. Huxtable

In the first half, what really separated Seton Hall from Auburn was the shooting of Aaron Cosby (you get the reference now? haha). Sporting a sleek new buzzcut, he knocked down three early three pointers en route to a career-high-tying 13 PTS. For Seton Hall, it was about having that 4th option on offense contribute that really caused the offense to run smoothly. In the first half, it was Cosby in addition to Pope, Theodore and Fuquan "Ninja" Edwin. In the second half, it was Auda.

Talking with assistant coach McHale before the game, we talked about a possible freshman breakout performance, and had Cosby scored a little more in the second half, we'd be talking about one. Haralds Karlis had 8 PTS off the bench and knocked down a couple threes. Those two guys have been so key for the Pirates so far.

- Atmosphere

The Rock ROCKED on Friday night, and it was in large part due to a sold-out and packed student section. There were flip cards, passionate fans, and swimmers in Speedos. But more importantly, there were no empty seats behind the South basket. Tremendous job by the students. In my 4 years at Seton Hall, I've never seen it that packed and that passionate throughout a game. Kevin Willard called it the MVP of the game, and I've gotta agree. If that section can do that throughout the rest of the season, it can only help the team do well.

Added by HallBall99:

6) Student Section: It's already been said, and Bob & JP certainly hit the nail on the head, but I must repeat it... the student section was nothing short of stellar. Please make no mistake too, these students had fun; a lot of fun. It was an event and I hope they take pride in what they did.

7) Players getting comfortable at home: In my last post, I spoke about the conversation I had with AD Pat Lyons and how he told me that we "hadn't seen what this freshman class can do." Well, this is what he meant. Karlis and Cosby were fearless tonight (translation: confident).

8) We DESTROYED the Auburn zone defense. Why they didn't adjust to our bombs over the top, I don't know... but Willard out-coached and our players out-played.

9) Remember Willard said, before the season began, "We have shooters, last year we didn't have shooters"? Well, this is what he meant. Guys who I'm comfortable with shooting the 3 this year:

JT, Cosby, Karlis, Auda, Fu and Grennan (small sample, I grant you).

last year:

Hazell and then a bunch of "meh? Probably not a good idea."

9 1/2) I had to mention Herb. You saw his stat line tonight so I don't really need to talk about his on-the-court dominance. But what I DID notice (off the stat sheet) was how he is really leading this team. He's really taken Auda under his wing. For example, we had a possession in the first half where our passing was spectacular, leading to a shot opportunity for Auda, and he didn't take it. Instead, he swung the rock around and I believe it got picked off and lead to a turnover (don't remember the exact sequence - but that's inconsequential to the story). What IS consequential is that Pope in a firm but supportive way encourages him to take the shot. That's leadership. Showing confidence in a player who is searching for his.

10) Coming together: The plays, the passing, the defense, the intensity, the focus was all there tonight. It was there from the tip and it was there at the buzzer. The General, JT, was waving his arms in the air (a la Grant B's "GET UP, GET UP!") at the buzzer, up 22 points. This must not be mistaken for showing Auburn up, but rather, the focus and intensity he had for the entire game. I truly believe that our players get that this must be a sustained effort and today, it was a sustained and complete effort.