If you are Seton Hall, you are feeling pretty good about the present right about now. After beating finally beating UCONN for the first time in eleven years, Kevin Willard and the Pirates are starting to get recognized and have begun making eye contact with the Top 25 from across the bar. The future ain’t looking too bad either, with highly ranked recruit Aquille Carr giving a verbal yesterday. Gone are the days of one man show Jeremey Hazell chucking up threes like they are going out of style. The Seton Hall offense is now a balanced attack, and their defense has tremendously improved from a season ago.
In order to get their first BIG EAST win this season, the Friars have to continue to play with the energy and fight that they brought against top ranked Syracuse during the week. The Hall will surely not be in “let-down” mode since a win will most likely get them in the polls, so PC will once again need everyone to be firing on all cylinders.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 6:00PM EST
Opponent: Seton Hall (13-2, 2-1)
Location: The Dunk
Spread: Seton Hall -2.5
ESPN Accuscore: Seton Hall 72.2, Providence 67.2 (Seton Hall wins 65.3% of over 10,000 sims)
CBSSports Daily Picks: Seton Hall 72, Providence 67
Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
The Pope-a!: Everyone knows who Herb Pope is by now (well, almost everyone), and it’s no secret the Hall’s offense runs through him. He uses up 31% of SHU’s possessions when he’s out on the court, but also has the ability to find the open man when he gets it in inside (15.2% assist percentage, great for a big man). When he’s not doing all sorts of scoring, he’s grabbing every rebound in sight – Pope is 25th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage and 69th in offensive rebounding percentage. The Friars better hit their shots on the first try, because there may not be many second chances with the Pope in town.
Vincent Council vs. Jordan Theodore: It’s the battle of underrated BIG EAST point guards! Their overall numbers this season are fairly similar (Council: 16.2 PPG, 42% FG%, 6.5 APG / Theodore: 16 PPG, 40% FG%, 7 APG), but Theodore has gotten off to a better start in conference play. He turns the ball over less, but isn’t tasked with being the only member of the team who can bring the ball up. Oh, and he has Herb Pope to pass it to inside! Totally not fair. Anyways, during stoppages the two players can talk about how they were both left off the Cousy Award list for the nation’s top point guards.
Fuquatch out for Fuquan: Sophomore Fuquan Edwin (who’s final list of schools were Seton Hall and Providence) is leading the nation in steals and 10th in steals percentage (5.4%). PC did a decent job limiting the steals of the Syracuse ballhawks on Wednesday which was good news, but they still need to make sure their pockets don’t get picked and don’t throw lazy passes when he is anywhere in the vicinity.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Seton Hall has posted a 13-2 mark overall and a 2-1 re- cord in BIG EAST play. In their most recent game, the Pirates defeated UConn, 75-63, on January 3. Seton Hall is led by senior forward Herb Pope. He leads the team in scoring (18.3 ppg) and rebounding (10.7 rpg). Senior guard Jordan Theodore also is having a strong season. He is second on the team in scoring (16.0 ppg). He also leads the league in assists (7.3 apg).
Seton Hall will continue one if its longest running rivalries when it takes on Providence on Saturday. This will be the 89th meeting all-time between the teams with the Friars holding a slim 45-43 edge in the series. Last season, Seton Hall defeated the Friars, 81-71, at the Prudential Center. The Pirates have won the last three meetings and five of their last six games with Providence. Seton Hall has also won its last two games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
South Orange Juice: Next up, Providence: Tempo Free Pre-Game
The mindset. Seton Hall is on the road. To be successful in this conference you need road wins. Hall is riding a nice momentum and has a chance for one here. Providence must put that 0-3 start behind them. Build on the competitiveness shown in that Syracuse contest.
South Orange Juice: Seton Hall Basketball: JP’s Game Preview- Providence Friars
They match the Friars’ intensity and avoid the “let-down” game. Providence is winless so far in Big East play, getting smacked on the road by St. John’s and putting up great fights against Georgetown on the road and against Syracuse on Wednesday. After this game, they have Louisville, Syracuse and Marquette on their schedule. They will therefore almost assuredly come out of the gates with energy in front of their home crowd. Seton Hall needs to match their level of energy. If they do that, and continue to defend, they will avoid the so-called “let down” game following the big upset against UConn
Grantland: Anatomy of an Upset: Seton Hall Over UConn
Upon seeing Seton Hall’s zone, the Huskies went into a high 1-4 set with two players on the wing and a big man at each elbow. UConn was looking to get the ball to one of the elbows and play high-low with the other big, who would dive to the rim. It’s a good quick-hitting play, but to break a zone a team needs to move the ball from side to side and make the defense rotate. When you enter the ball after one pass and the opposite big just dives, you aren’t getting that movement. The results are turnovers and misses.
MyCentralJersey.com: Willard, Seton Hall getting noticed
“The most important thing about the UConn win was the fan base really got excited,” said Willard, whose program had not beaten the Huskies since 2001. “The national attention is great, it helps recruiting, but I think the most important thing for me and for the program is the fan base has some good buzz and is excited about this team.”
CBS Sports: Seton Hall’s win over UConn cements resurgence
The win that cemented Seton Hall’s resurgence under Kevin Willard. The win that cemented Seton Hall’s place amongst the top half of the Big East. And, yes, the win that let everyone know the Pirates are likely headed to the NCAA tournament.
“Nobody’s coming into our house think they’re going to kick our asses,” senior guard Jordan Theodore said.
When Willard took over in South Orange last season, one of his first and most important priorities was instilling defense. Under former head coach Bobby Gonzalez, Seton Hall’s points scored and points allowed were always within a five points or fewer of each other. As a result, the Pirates struggled. Last year, with many of Gonzalez’s leftovers, Willard’s system worked … but not really.
Yes, the Pirates dropped their points scored by 13 and their points allowed by 10 from Gonzalez’s numbers last year, but the fit between the new coach’s system and the players never meshed. This year has been different.
3. We keep asking this, but how good has Jordan Theodore become?
He’s entering the conversation of the best point guards in school history. There’s simply no way around it. Forget for a second about what he’s doing offensively, what he’s doing assist-wise, hasn’t been seen since the Andre Barrett years. In 15 games, he has 109 assists — he had 137 all of last season. And he still has (at least) 16 more games to play.
North Jersey.com: Hall plays Providence with Top 25 in mind
But that could change, provided the Pirates get a victory tonight at Providence. Impressive back-to-back home wins over solid West Virginia and No. 8 UConn have vaulted the Pirates (13-2, 2-1 Big East) into the national consciousness. But the Pirates realize, as senior forward Herb Pope said, that the win over UConn “doesn’t mean anything if we go to Providence and have a letdown.”
There is, however, one blemish that’s still difficult for Theodore to overcome. In March, he was accused of confronting Lawrence in a dorm room while brandishing a handgun. But the Essex County prosecutor’s office decided against pressing charges due to insufficient evidence. Seton Hall also cleared Theodore after a separate investigation.
Still, Theodore believes the situation briefly stained his career.
“Just for that to even come out, it was bad for me,” he said. “To this day, if you type my name on Google, the first thing that pops up is Jordan Theodore being accused of assault with a deadly weapon. I don’t want that up there, but I can’t change it.”
WHAT TO: WATCH
Jordan Theodore scored 19 points to lead Seton Hall to 75-63 win over No. 8 Connecticut.
Fuquan Edwin scored 19 points and Seton Hall held off a late comeback by West Virginia to defeat the Mountaineers 67-48 in Newark, NJ.
Aaron Geramipoor with the flush. Very rare.
The Seton Hall Pirates Cheerleaders get some Valentine’s Day pregame air time on the Big East Network against the DePaul Blue Demons
Freshman guard Freddie Wilson does Auburn dirty in a blowout win at the Prudential Center.
Highlights from Seton Hall against Saint Joseph’s and Virginia Commonwealth at the 2011 Charleston Classic.
The Northwestern University Wildcats win the 2011 Charleston Classic with an 80-73 victory over the Seton Hall Pirates, improving to 4-0 on the season.
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll probably be live tweeting the game @friarblog. Also be sure to follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
FriarTV: PC vs. Seton Hall
WHERE TO: LISTEN
WEEI 103.7 FM