Fresh off their gutsy win over George Washington and with Rutgers and Wichita State looming on the horizon, Seton Hall (5-0) is in for a traditional trap game on Tuesday when they host Mount St. Mary's (1-3).
As I predicted in August, the Mount is having a tough go of it this season after winning the NEC tournament to earn a bid in last year's NCAA tournament. Like Nevada, the exodus of head coach Jamion Christian's top three scorers have left the Northeast Conference team searching for answers, especially on offense, over their first four games.
Scouting Mount St. Mary's:
With some help from our friends at The Mount Fan Blog
Picked fifth in the NEC, the Mount played Arizona closely in the first half of their opener, but have struggled since. A 12-point loss against a bad UMES and a 34-point loss away to a mediocre Wake Forest squad have sandwiched a win at Bucknell. Seton Hall has won the most recent meeting with Mount St. Mary's 107-75 during the 1988-89 season.
Christian's team has put forth a truly collective effort with no one averaging more than 9.3 ppg while seven players play at least 19 mpg (28th in bench minutes). 7-foot center Taylor Danaher (4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) was Mount St. Mary's leading returning scorer from a year ago, but has so far been surpassed in the scoring column by 6-foot-11 Croatian senior Kristijan Krajina (9.3 ppg, 4 rpg). Interestingly, both Danaher and Krajina have averaged 23.5 mpg and have started all four games for the Mount, giving them an unorthodox look in the paint.
I expected Marshall transfer and former St. Patrick's (N.J.) star Chris Martin (20 mpg, 4 ppg) to get the call at point guard, but so far 5-foot-5 freshman Lamont "Junior" Robinson (6.8 ppg, 3.5 apg), the smallest Division 1 player, has been given the reins. Robinson is reportedly very quick and already has the ability to split defenders. Earning most of the minutes at the two and three are returnees Byron Ashe (9 ppg) and Gregory Graves (7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg), respectively. 6-foot-6 wing Will Miller is one of Christian's first options off the bench at the three.
Preparing for Mount St. Mary's over a short time period shouldn't be too difficult for Seton Hall since the Mount has struggled shooting threes, much like George Washington. Currently 315th (26.4%) in the country from beyond the arc, only Robinson (4-15) and Ashe (6-19) have tested their mettle from long range. The rest of MSM is 18 of 72 from three-point land. Despite these poor statistics, Christian's team is 20th in 3PA/FGA and is perhaps not as bad from three as their stats suggest, which perhaps explains some of their struggles thus far.
Three things to watch for:
A let down. A young team coupled with two tough tests (for different reasons) just days away could be a formula for a lack of concentration on Tuesday night. Based on Mount St. Mary's body of work and their offensive ability, I don't think Seton Hall is under any serious threat here, but mental preparation will be interesting to keep tabs on.
Twin towers. Angel Delgado told me on Saturday that George Washington's John Kopriva and Kevin Larsen were the toughest forwards he has played against yet, but that he was prepared. I'm unaware of their back to the basket ability, but the Mount starts two guys standing taller than 6-foot-10 and plays them for over 20 mpg. Fifth year senior Kristijan Krajina scored 13 against Arizona and 16 against Bucknell and looks to be more of an offensive threat than Taylor Danaher. Delgado, Brandon Mobley, and the collective help defense in the paint needs to be maintained against the Mount.
Seton Hall will look to dictate the pace. They weren't able to do so against George Washington, but that shouldn't be the case tomorrow night. The Mount plays at the 254th-quickest tempo and therefore will struggle to hang (they average 54.5 ppg) with the Hall should they score in transition off missed shots.
If an uptempo game materializes, Kevin Willard will be looking for approved efficiency and spacing on transition breaks. He hasn't been overly pleased with his team's ability to cash in when they have numbers and this game should provide a few opportunities to work on this facet of the Pirates' game.
KenPom says: No. 65 Seton Hall - 73, No. 280 Mount St. Mary's - 57 (94%)
Projected Mount St. Mary's starters:
PG - Lamont Robinson
G - Byron Ashe
G/F - Gregory Graves
F - Kristijan Krajina
F - Taylor Danaher
Time: 7pm ET, Tuesday
TV: FOX Sports 2
Radio: 970 AM WNYM
Opening line: TBD