Following the news that Kevin Johnson's slightly torn meniscus surgery will sideline him for three weeks and not the entire season, Seton Hall fans breathed sighs of relief. Somewhere on Seton Hall's South Orange, N.J. campus, Eugene Teague and Brandon Mobley realized the tall task that lies ahead of them: holding down the post by themselves for 4-6 games.
With Johnson succumbing to a nagging meniscus after impressive showings against Longwood and Long Island, he leaves the Seton Hall interior dangerously thin. First, power forward Patrik Auda was sidelined for the season with a broken 5th metatarsal in his right foot. Then, Aaron Geramipoor was benched after the LSU game by a stress fracture that has left his foot in a boot -- Aaron is expected to remain out until late January. Now, Big Kevin has joined his fellow frontcourt teammates at the end of the bench.
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard will need to get extremely creative with the lineups he sends out, offensive plays he runs and defensive schemes he implements. Foul trouble or a re-injury to Eugene Teague's ankle means a capable but ill-equipped Brandon Mobley will have to play center, resembling Bobby Gonzalez lineups that had Robert "Stix" Mitchell at the 5. Any foul trouble to Mobley infers a wing (Edwin, Oliver) taking over at the power forward spot. Speculating about foul trouble to both players is painful just to think about.
In response to the unfortunate injuries, we will probably see Willard play more zone defense to keep the lone Pirate post prowlers out of trouble with the officials. On offense, there will be plenty of sets when there is only one post player in the game, meaning some 4-out, 1-in motion offense with a possible lineup of Teague, Edwin, Oliver, Cosby and Maayan. While a small lineup will be potent from outside on offense, it will be susceptible on defense in the interior against Big East opponents like Notre Dame (Jack Cooley, Garrick Sherman) and Louisville (Gorgui Dieng) that sport dominant forwards.
No matter what strings Kevin Willard pulls it will ultimately be up to Eugene Teague (12.6PPG, 8.0RPG, 27.5MPG) and Brandon Mobley (9.3PPG, 6.4RPG, 21.1MPG) to step their respective games up and shoulder the load of more minutes, more responsibility and more pressure.