Like Bill Murray experienced time and time again, February 4th turned out to once again be Groundhog Day for the Pirates, as the newly minted #23 Punxsutawney Panthers pulled out the win by a score of 56 - 46. Pitt has now won 6 of it's last 7 games, eclipsing last year's total number of wins. It's safe to say that Jamie Dixon has righted the ship from what was an uncharacteristically awful year last year. Seton Hall falls to 2-8 (13-10) in Big East play, their worst start in 28 years.
That said, nobody expected anything out of Seton Hall tonight. Nobody. I was told by a reliable source that even Mother Ann Seton put a dime on the Panthers at -15 1/2 points. The Pirates, however, disappointed all the naysayers with the perhaps their most spirited effort since Jordan Theodore roamed the backcourt.
Heading into the intermission, the score was knotted at 24 and sports books in Vegas casinos were rapidly running out of Johnnie Walker Blue. Shockingly, Seton Hall had fewer turnovers (5), then Pitt (6). Fuquan Edwin led all scorers at that point (12 points), six of which came on Hazelian bombs from beyond the arc. It can't be overstated, Fuquan Edwin played ball tonight, y'all. He did a lot of everything; he lead all players with 23 points and 5 steals. He also grabbed 4 boards and stayed out of foul trouble.
In a scary moment for Pirate fans, Fuquan landed awkwardly on his right ankle and appeared to roll it - painful to watch. Thankfully he was able to return to the game, but given Seton Hall's luck with ankles this season (Brian Oliver, Eugene Teague and Aaron Cosby), we will be waiting with baited breath for results of subsequent examinations. Tonight Fu was the emotional leader Pirates fans hoped he'd be; whether or not that desire and passion are here to stay remains to be seen, but on this night, he was spectacular.
Seton Hall players not named Fuquan Edwin shot a ghastly 7 for 26, or just under 27%. As a team the Pirates shot 25% from long range and 33% from the field. That's just not going to do it. The Panthers weren't much better, as they shot 35% from the field, but shot a rather robust 42% from beyond the arc, as the Pirates had concerns defending the perimeter.
The big story of the evening, however, was that Seton Hall point / shooting guard Aaron Cosby didn't travel with the team to Pittsburgh. Kevin Willard cited "family reasons" as the impetus Cosby didn't make the trip. However, Twitter was alive with cryptic talk of Cosby potentially not returning to the team... at all (head in palm), after Gary Cohen stated, "It's really unknown when he'll be back -- if he'll be back." Of course, this would be a massive blow to a team which has already endured an almost laughable amount of adversity this year. Associate Head Coach Shaheen Holloway also wasn't on the Seton Hall bench tonight, as he was home welcoming his newborn child with his wife.
Looking forward, Seton Hall will play host to first year Head Coach Kevin Ollie and the UConn Huskies at noon this Sunday. Breakfast at the Prudential Center hasn't been sitting well with the Pirates of late; perhaps a full week of preparation will do them some good vs. this weeks Big East Player of the Week, Shabazz Napier, and the the Calhoun-less Huskies.
Until then, HAZARD ZET FORWARD.