I honestly cannot believe my eyes.
This team started 15-2?! You wouldn't know it after tonight's extremely poor performance on the Main Line. It's their worst loss of the year, and the worst they've looked since Syracuse.
A late flurry didn't matter one iota. This game was sealed far before that.
Here are the 5 Thoughts. They are not for the faint of heart:
Non-existent tonight. I don't recall a worse game that I've seen out of Jordan Theodore. He forced enough shots to choke and army of horses to death. The kick-out passes were there EVERY SINGLE TIME he took the ball into the paint on the drive, yet time and time again Theodore drove the ball blindly into the defense. He couldn't get around his man on defense, but instead of running solid offense, he tried some fancy dribbling that had no purpose whatsoever except to get Theodore riled up enough so that he would force a wild shot. The difference in the last two games has been Theodore- he's not making plays for others nearly as much. He's tried to be Kemba Walker and he just plain isn't that type of player. Two games in a row this has happened. Trying to lead a young team is one thing, but trying to do everything yourself is another thing altogether.
Coach Willard said that he had talked with Jordan following the USF game and that Jordan was prepared to put that game behind him. Yeah, that didn't happen. Not by a long, forced, unnecessary shot.
It picked up in the second half, as more open shots were made. But the collective effort from the perimeter in the first half was putrid. Villanova's defensive gameplan was to pack the paint on all drives. That left countless kick-out opportunities. Those were made by the Pirates when they were denied passage into the lane. The shots were not falling at all. They were wide open, but none were dropping. They dropped in the second half. I really cannot fault the Pirates for continuing to shoot the ball, because the makes were bound to come with all the open looks they got. But this game would have been different if some of those shots dropped.
- Foul Issues
Surely the gameplan was not to allow the Wildcats to get to the line FORTY ONE TIMES. Surely the gameplan wasn't to hand the best free throw shooting team in the entire conference nearly 35 free points. There were a number of bad calls by the officials, but Seton Hall put the Wildcats on the line way too much. JayVaughn Pinkston shot more free throws than the Pirates did. There's your main difference in the game, score-wise. The Wildcats got 27 of their 47 second-half points from the free throw line. Try and comprehend that for a second. The defense was great for Seton Hall in the second half. But they fouled too much. And these were not effort fouls- the majority were dumb fouls, such as not playing straight up and down on help defense, not moving your feet instead of reaching in, and other things that my high school coach would have benched the star player for doing.
- Mob Rush
Thank goodness for Brandon Mobley. The freshman forward has been huge off the bench ever since he returned from his injury. He hit all three of his triples in the first half (the rest of the team was 0-14), the biggest reason the score was as close as it was at the half. He scored 12 PTS off the bench and it gave the Pirates a lift they really needed. Quite honestly, if Patrik Auda can't demonstrate that he can play the first 10 minutes of the ballgame without fouling, Mobley's played well enough to be able to start.
- Disturbing Trend
The team, and specifically Theodore, isn't playing well at all. Old habits are starting to resurface with the point guard, and they are spreading to the rest of the team through the scoreboard and the results. I said that USF was a bad loss because of how the loss occurred as much as to whom it occurred. I also said that because of the last 6 minutes against the Bulls, this game needed to be the one the team bounced back in, to get the way they played out that game in Tampa as far out of their minds as possible. It didn't happen.
Now there is a full week off between games for the coaching staff to re-focus the team on doing what made them great. Not just good, great. The next two home games are of paramount importance. Notre Dame and Louisville are teams that the Pirates can definitely beat in Newark. The ship needs to be righted, and fast. Sure, the record still says 15-4. But the season doesn't end today.