In hindsight, this was a bit of a strange game. In the moment, it was gut-wrenching.
But now that Seton Hall was able to come away with the win, a number of thoughts come to mind.
Here are 5 of them:
Once Wake Forest got their legs under them after Seton Hall sprinted out to an early lead, they started pressing and playing a tight man-to-man defense that frustrated the Pirates all night. The Pirates handled it in a very LSU-like fashion for most of the game.
But, most likely out of necessity (the Hall trailed by 12 with 12 minutes remaining), the Pirates started pressing as well. And there were similar effects. The young Deacons started turning the ball over, leading to easy Pirate baskets. It started slowly as the Pirates crept back in the game and got confidence behind them.
By the end of the game, the confidence was overflowing, and the pressure was full-bore. The Pirates forced steal after critical steal down the stretch (4 total in the last 5 minutes) as the they tied the game, then took control in the final minutes. By the time it was over, Wake was wondering what in the world had hit them, and the Hall waltzed off with a win in a game they had to have.
In short, as SOJ colleague Chris McManus tweeted last night, take the LSU ending and reverse it.
- The Dancing Bear
Maybe that nickname will stick. Gene Teague was the only reason to be excited about the first half, scoring 10 PTS. As expected, the Pirates looked to establish him early and often, and results were good. Foul trouble limited him a little in the second half, but he still managed to score 9 more points. He finished with 8 REB as well, a whopping seven of which were on the offensive glass. He turned the ball over four times, but so did three other Pirates.
- Mobbing the Boards
Here's why this was a strange game- Seton Hall committed 23 turnovers while forcing only 18. They combined that with ice-cold outside shooting (2-16), and yet still hung on thanks to something very strange for a Seton Hall team nowadays- they DOMINATED on the boards, finishing with a 40-23 edge that included 12 offensive boards. They generated five more shots and makes with that edge.
While Teague took care of the offensive boards almost single-handed, Brandon Mobley pulled down 12 defensive rebounds on his own, finishing with a nice double-double of 11 PTS and 13 REB. He came alive late in the game, getting a putback layup (plus a foul), and also making the biggest play of the game- a steal in the backcourt off a trap in the corner as well as the ensuing dunk to put the Hall up one with 34 seconds left. He then went ahead and grabbed the rebound that completed a stop on the ensuing possession. It was a quiet night overall, but a very loud finish for Mobley.
- State of the Point Guards
Aaron Cosby started at the point and didn't really look comfortable. His shot was flat, and while his standard stat line looks alright (9 PTS / 2 REB / 5 AST / 2 STL) he did have 5 turnovers, many of which were bad passes. The hope is that Tom Maayan can begin to hold his own at some point this season a little more so that Cosby can spend more time off the ball where he looks vastly more comfortable. This was true down the stretch as well, when they played together as opposed to one relieving the other. But at the moment, especially in a road game, Maayan still needs more seasoning.
Meanwhile, Maayan looked like a freshman more than an experienced player in this game (2 AST, 5 turnovers), but he was very big late with a couple steals. Plus, his defense both in the press and individually on the Deacons' senior C.J. Harris (who went OFF for 7 threes and 28 PTS in the game anyway) was very good.
Until Maayan can show that he can be more in-control, this will be an issue all season long. The last few games it's reared its ugly head in the form of some stout man defenses and presses. Other teams will likely do the same. Just buckle up and hope for the best.
- Through the Telescope
The Pirates needed this win. They needed to believe they could win on the road. They needed to find a way when their threes weren't falling and their turnovers were mounting. And they got it.
Their reward is a full week to rest up and study for finals before a stretch of three games in 6 days. And it's always far more enjoyable and relaxing to take that break from game action off a win than a loss. For both the players and the fans.
Turnovers Zet Forward to all.