Ok, Pirates fans. Here's where the schedule ramps up again.
After getting back on their feet following the uneven weekend in Connecticut, Seton Hall faces its first true road test of the season at the Maravich Center against LSU, a team with a new look, a new coach, and a new style of play.
Here's what you need to know about the Tigers:
2011-12 record (in-conference): 18-15 (7-9 SEC, 8th place)
The Tigers did well for themselves last season after two dismal years under former head coach Trent Edwards. LSU's offense was not very good, to put things lightly. But thanks to McDonald's All-American freshman center Johnny O'Bryant and Justin Hamilton, the Tigers had some size down low, and used it to defend their opposition well enough to crack the postseason before falling in the first round of the NIT.
In the offseason, Edwards left for TCU, while Hamilton was drafted into the NBA and veteran Storm Warren graduated. What's left is a relatively young nucleus of players, and a new head coach in Johnny Jones that will look to push the tempo.
O'Bryant came in with much promise, and he continues to show that promise- Edwards had a knack for developing big men, as he did with Brook and Robin Lopez at Stanford- but he was at times too aggressive in looking for his shot last year, making only 40% from the field. Nevertheless, he's a stud frontcourt player who needs to be accounted for. The Pirates would do well to force him to hit a mid-range jumper, something he showed a fondness for almost to a fault last season, contributing to his low field goal percentage.
LSU's leading scorer is another post player in JUCO transfer Shavon Coleman. Coleman is a skilled forward, mostly a face-up guy who can do multiple things on the court. He's listed at only 6'5" however, so think more of a hybrid forward than a Herb Pope-style player.
Anthony Hickey returns after a very good freshman season to lead the offense at the point. He's 5'11" and cat-quick, so expect ball pressure from the Pirates, but at the same time not too much in case Hickey gets a head of steam. Andre Stringer is another small guard with good speed who's been coming off the bench. He was the point guard last year before Hickey took his job. With these guards both under 6-feet tall, the Pirates will have a size advantage against them, which should help contest their shots. Both are making their threes so far, shooting over 40% with about 20 attempts each. When handling the ball around Hickey, the Pirates would also do well to keep the ball close (2 STL last season).
Also in the backcourt is Charles Carmouche, a Memphis transfer who has been shooting the ball well so far. Two freshmen, Corban Collins and Malik Morgan, round out the guard rotation. Shane Hammink has a reputation as a strong player who can defend. He's also shot the ball well so far this season.
In the frontcourt, two veterans in senior Eddie Ludwig and junior Jalen Courtney, provide good depth and size behind and next to O'Bryant. Andrew Del Piero is listed at 7'3", so if the Tigers find themselves lacking in the length department, he could be used for more minutes than the 7.8 he's currently averaging.
Seton Hall will win if:
- They play solid D. This key is two-fold. One of the things new head coach Johnny Jones does is play fast. The Pirates played a similar style of opponent last season in Auburn, and against their press, Seton Hall amped up the pressure and forced the Tigers to be too fast. I don't think that will happen again for the simple reason that it's on LSU's home floor, as Auburn last season was frazzled by a great home atmosphere at the Rock. LSU is also more talented overall.
Secondly, the Tigers have more turnovers than they have assists this year. The Pirates should have their hands ready to swipe at a stray ball, as it's one weakness LSU has at the moment. To recap, if the Pirates can control tempo, push at times off turnovers, but keep the Tigers from making it a marathon, they should do fine.
- They win the battle at the line. If there's one glaring weakness about LSU, it's their free throw shooting. The Tigers are shooting 53% from the line AS A TEAM. If you take away Carmouche's team-leading 15-21, that figure drops to under 50%. The Pirates, who have been hot and cold from the line this year, are a full 10 percentage points better. So, if the Pirates take advantage of their trips to the line, and use fouling strategically (O'Bryant and Ludwig are prime offenders), it will help them enormously. This is especially true of Edwin and Gene Teague- the duo has shot about 2/3 of the Pirates' attempts this season.
- They are not fazed by the crowd. This is the first true road game of the season for Seton Hall, and the Pirates will need to lean on their veterans and the coaching staff to handle the pressure. One thing LSU did well last season is defend, so it will be a tough game for Seton Hall. How Tom Maayan responds to that type of environment will tell us a lot about where he is, but I would expect Aaron Cosby to get a good chunk of minutes at the point, and I would also expect Kyle Smyth to be on the floor as much as possible alongside whatever lead guard Coach Willard opts for. On the road, you have to be even smarter as a team, and hopefully the Pirates are up to that task.
LSU will win if:
- They push the tempo. Pretty self-explanatory. Seton Hall can play fast, but not at breakneck speed, so LSU wants to be fast, but not too fast so that.....
- They avoid turnovers. In Edwin, the Pirates have one of the best ball theives in the nation, and Maayan and the rest of the crew are no slouches. If the Tigers have 15+ giveaways, I don't like their chances much.
- They find an answer for Teague. Outside of the 7'3" Del Piero, the tallest Tiger is 6'9" in O'Bryant, but Gene Teague has a good 40 pounds on him. This is a unique matchup down low, as it won't be as easy as the front lines of URI, Maine, or Saint Peter's was for Teague, but it shouldn't be as hard as facing a true 7-footer like Aziz N'Diaye. It's the key matchup for LSU in this game. No one except the aforementioned N'Diaye could slow down Big Gene down low. Can the Tigers do it somehow?