Seton Hall v. William Patterson Recap, 97-55

A few things stuck out to me as the Pirates jogged out of the Walsh Gym locker room to the applause of 2,600+ fans around 7PM tonight:

Keon Lawrence, Anali Okoloji and Aaron Geramipoor were not in uniform. Okoloji was likely resting his stress fracture and Geramipoor is dealing with a case of mono, but Lawrence was a mystery to me until I tuned into Hall Line. Apparently, Kevin Willard decided not to allow Keon to play tonight: a “coaches decision”. This does not bode well, and is eerily similar to the start of last season.

The uniforms. It had been reported that the Pirates were wearing new threads, but I didn’t think they were this nice. I was thoroughly impressed.

The atmosphere. The place was packed. There were dozens of people standing along the back row of seats and there were very few empty seats. The gym was also very nice looking. I admittedly had never attended a game at Walsh, but from what I’ve heard, the gym looked great.

Game Summary: To those who weren’t there, the Pioneers and Pirates matched baskets for the first 9 minutes until Seton Hall pulled away quickly to lead by 20+ at half. Oddly enough, it seems like the Pirates started playing better as soon as Jordan Theodore entered the game. The Pirates continued to play a fast pace game in the second half, not taking their proverbial boot off WPU’s throat. The Pioneers were never able to really go on any runs, so the game was never in question. Seton Hall stretched the lead to the high 30s when I left (3:40 to play), around the time when Darnell Gatling entered the game.

3 Highlights:

– The first one is a package deal. Jordan Theodore had two identical behind the back passes to Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson for slam dunks. The crowd went wild both times… it looked like something from a street ball tape. The second time, one of the WPU defenders tripped, I’m not sure if it was due to Theodore or not.

– I can’t remember the exact play, but Fuquan Edwin or Herb Pope caught the ball under the basket, faked a shot, and dished to the other for a lay in. I believe Pope dished it to Edwin. This was a microcosm of Edwin’s fine play in and around the paint.

– Flag Man. The new Flag Man barely made it out of the gates, as his arms were wobbling immediately. Somehow, he was able to complete three laps, nearly hitting the WPU and SHU huddles. I wouldn’t be able to lift the thing, but Flag Man has to go back to the drawing board if he wants to improve this season.

MIP (Most Impressive Pirate) Award: Fuquan Edwin was a force. In his first action as a Pirate (in public), FU really stood out. Not one attribute really stuck out, but Edwin seemed to have a great basketball sense. Cliche, I know, but that is exactly what it was. He had a nose for some loose balls on the defensive end, and was very elusive within the arc on the offensive end… He also hit a 3 pointer (1-2). Nothing to not like about this advertised gunner.

Jordan Theodore – If there was such a thing as the “Ooh Aah” award, Theodore would have won it, hands down. Theo dished two fantastic behind the back passes to Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson that made Walsh Gym erupt. He was also incredibly fast in transition; he was really on another level with the rock in his hands. There is no evidence of his shot being improved, but he has all the tools to be a true point and a great leader for this season and next.

Herb Pope – Status Quo. Pope looked like himself after a very scary off season. He might have been a little gassed, but it wasn’t noticeable. He reeled in 20 rebounds in his first “game” back… not bad. The much improved Ferro Hall will scoop up any minutes that Pope can’t handle.

Ferrakohn Hall – Improved. Hall backed up the numerous reports that he has improved and tacked on some muscle. He had a few impressive post moves as well as quite a few rebounds. However, Hall still looks iffy on the defensive end. He defended once or twice very well (forced a bad shot) but he also tacked up a few silly fouls just like last year.

Eniel Polynice – As advertised. He reminds me of a more complete Edwin. He was able to run the point briefly, played solid defense, held his own on offense, and made a 3 early in the game. Whether its off the bench as a 6th man, or as a starter, Eniel will be a key player for the Pirates.

Jeremy Hazell – Jeremy had a quiet 16 points. Its obvious that Jeremy is not going to have to carry this team day in, day out. Although he didn’t play major minutes tonight, Hazell didn’t really force too many shots. I’m sure he’ll take a few more shots against Temple, but Hazell played smart tonight.

Jeff Robinson – Jeff had an up and down game. He was stuffed once or twice by Robert Whetham (#5) of WPU in the early goings. He also took quite a few shots to start the game. His most impressive moment was throwing down a huge dunk after Theodore’s first behind the back dish. All in all, Jeff can do much better than this.

Jamel Jackson – JJax played a little bit more than he was supposed to due to Keon Lawrence not suiting up. He took a few silly fouls on defense and hit a shot or two on offense. Overall, he looks about the same as last season. He should be behind Polynice, Theodore, Lawrence and Hazell in the guard rotation, but he is not really a liability — as some think.

Patrik Auda – Auda had a solid game. He had a nose for some tipped around rebounds that Pope was not able to corral and also showed the ability to hit the 3. I don’t think he was really tested on defense, nor a focal point in the offensive game, so I can’t really make a conclusion about Patrik yet. He looked a little slow in the full court press, but I had to keep reminding myself that he is a forward. He should improve over the course of the season as the next forward off the bench behind Hall.

Darnell Gatling – Not much to say here. I left a minute or so after he entered the game. He won’t be logging many minutes this season, so theres not much to say.

Report Card
Pirates Offense: B
I was not too impressed by the Pirates half court offense. They didn’t seem to run too many set plays outside of a few coming out of timeouts (none of which worked, to my memory). A lot of us had been told that Willard was going to run more of a half court offense, but this team ran early and often (as soon as Theodore stepped on the court). I mean it worked, but this is also William Patterson. The team will have to improve on the half court offense. Funny how I’m complaining about offense when the team scored 97…

Pirates Defense: A-
Early in the game, William Patterson was breaking the press rather easily. Auda looked slow, and the WPU guards looked decent. That changed quickly as WPU started to turn the ball over in bunches. Hall looked improved on defense, but he also took a few bad fouls. Overall, it was kind of tough to judge the defense since WPU wasn’t really able to play in the half court. Yes, thats a side effect of running a press, but I guess its just not what I expected. It will be interesting to see how long Willard sticks with the full court press against Temple. Side note: The team also played a 2-3 zone.

Overall: B+
The Hall obviously flexed their basketball muscles tonight, but it might not of been in the way we all would have liked to see. They didn’t dominate in the half court offense because they continued to run and they weren’t really tested in the defensive half court, which may or not have been because of the press they ran. I don’t think the Pirates played bad, but its difficult to translate their performance tonight to match a Top 25 team, in their house.

Its tough to complain about a 42 point win, but hey, thats my job.

Extras:

– The St. Benedicts basketball team was behind the Seton Hall bench, as noted on Hall Line. I wasn’t able to see them since I was seated behind the WPU bench. This seems like a good recruiting move.

– According to Alex Kline (www.therecruitscoop.com), “A trio of New Jersey sophomore sensations of Austin Colbert, Reggie Cameron & Halice Cooke attended the Seton Hall scrimmage tonight.” — Another good recruiting move.

– 12 and 20. Jordan Theodore had 12 dishes and Herb Pope had 20 rebounds. Although they were against a D-III opponent, both were in limited minutes.

– The $1 hot dogs were solid. A lot more appealing than the $100 hot dogs at major sporting events.

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