The Pirates' Prudential Center home opener for the 2012 season concluded with a final score of 78-65 this evening. Technically, this was the second home game, but it really would've been better served like the first game... at Walsh Gym. It seemed just dozens were in attendance; but regardless, Seton Hall picked up the W and they now head to Mohegan Sun with a 2-0 record.
Eight months ago, the Norfolk State Spartans captured their first ever MEAC title, soon followed by upsetting No. 2 seed Missouri in the NCAA tournament. Solid. Tonight's team, however, was completely different. Although the Spartans have just one freshman, they lost five of the team’s top seven scorers to graduation and it showed in sloppy play. Not to be outdone, however, the Pirates played a lose game committing 17 turnovers; this must be addressed. In league play, this will not stand; these turnovers will not stand, man (Big Lebowski).
Tom Maayan continues to show poise, committing 3 turnovers to 5 assists and at times was awfully impressive. He's quick, smart, and has great range. I'm sure I can speak for most Pirate fans when I say I'm looking forward to seeing him develop over the next four years. Skills are improved with time-on-task, and he's getting a lot of that; time. Aaron Cosby returned for limited minutes in a back up point guard roll, but Pirate fans should be encouraged, as he should be much closer to his normal self against Washington.
Just 3:45 into the second half, Seton Hall opened up a nine point lead and never looked back. The Spartans got no closer than 4 points before the Pirates finally overtook an inferior opponent. Eugene "CC Sabathia" Teague was an absolute beast. He shot an efficient 7/11, good for 16 points and 11 boards. This kid clogs up lanes and leans on opposing offenses like a heavy weight boxer in the 11th round of a championship bout. It's exciting to finally see what Herb Pope told me last year about Teague's physicality.
Seton Hall was impressive on the glass, destroying Norfolk State 42 to 26. Three Pirates had at least 10 boards (Teague, Mobley and Edwin), further boasting this teams profound depth. In fact, 8 of the 10 players who suited up tonight played a minimum of 15 minutes. Like he said he might do, Coach Willard put in a "2nd line" of five on the court in one substitution.
Fuquan Edwin initially got off to a slow start, but then erupted for 23 points 10 boards and 6 steals for an overall tremendous game. And now, I'm acutely aware of why Kevin Willard likes Kyle Smyth so much; the co-captain shot a perfect 4/4, good for 14 points and was clearly a leader on the floor. His passes have meaning, and his defense never lags.
I understand that Norfolk State isn't exactly the sexiest name on the schedule, but I was pretty surprised at the thin turnout of fans. It was so quiet at times I could literally hear the hiss of the cheerleaders' Pom Poms as they whipped them around after, well, pretty much anything (God bless their hearts). The student section, however, was rockin', so good on ya, college rockers.
Next up, Washington. Faux sin city of the north east (Mohegan Sun) should be a great venue to play formidable opponents and will be the first true test of the young season. Baring any further "violation of team rules," Freddy Wilson will rejoin the team and the Pirates will be at full strength.
As always, Hazard Zet Forward!