#10 Seton Hall Pirates
image from psuicelions.com
#12 St. John’s
Last Year In A Nutshell:
17-15 (7-11 Big East)
No Postseason Play
Coach: Bobby Gonzalez
If I Were Coach Gonzalez I Would Start:
Jeremy Hazell (G, Jr.) – Averaged over 20 points a game last year (maybe that’s because he took over a quarter of the team’s shots). Fantastic shooter with some range.
Eugene Harvey (G, Sr.) – Senior point guard. Is a threat to drive the lane at all times. Has a bad habit of making dumb mistakes. Scrappy player who can grab rebounds.
Herb Pope (F, Jr.) – New Mexico St. transfer. Grew up in Pittsburgh. Very gifted athlete. No trouble playing down low for the Aggies, but can he hang in the Big East?
Robert Mitchell (F, Jr.) – Another player with local ties (former Duquesne transfer). Very athletic wing player. Very good shooter, but can go inside and get some rebounds as well.
John Garcia (F/C, Sr.) – Really big and strong. Provides a solid presence down low, but is still a bit uncoordinated. Struggles to make post moves to manufacture points, and could use his size to rebound better.
Other Key Contributors:
Keon Lawrence (G, Jr.) – Mizzou transfer. Extremely athletic guard. Loves to run the floor.
Jordan Theodore (G, So.) – Backup point guard. More of the classic distributor point guard as opposed to Harvey who likes to be more of a scoring threat.
Jamel Jackson (G, Jr.) – JUCO transfer. Scouting report says that he’s a terrific 3-point shooter.
Jeff Robinson (F, Jr.) – Memphis transfer. Won’t be eligible until the second half of the season. Coach Gonzalez says he’ll use him mostly on the wing.
Melvyn Oliver (C, So.) – Huge big man. Like, enormous. Like listed as 340, but touched 400 pounds at points last year enormous. Which is even big on a 6’11” guy. Sat out last year (and possibly some of this year) with academic issues. Can’t be moved in the post, but is slow as molasses. I don’t see how he fits into this year’s up-tempo team.
I keep a couple of notebooks every year on college basketball. When I watch games I take notes on player strengths/weaknesses, offensive and defensive strategies, and overall team strengths and weaknesses. What I write is generally what you’re reading in these posts. I keep past years notebooks, but I’ve never known why (maybe I’m just a pack rat). But this year I found out. I really gave the notebooks from two years ago a workout on this post. Bobby Gonzalez went crazy with transfers, and I had to dig into the archives to research what they’ll play like. I mean, just look at how many times I had to type transfer up top. These weren’t some leftovers, either. Herb Pope and Keon Lawrence both averaged over 10 points last year. These were some serious gets. Seton Hall will be interesting to watch this year because they’ve got talent, but will that talent be able to gel? Bobby Gonzalez seemed to just go out and get the most athletic guys he could find. But they’ve all got different strengths that don’t mesh. Some are better creating a shot. Some are better in transition. Some are better at a snail’s pace. This is really on Coach Gonzalez to create a game plan that allows everyone to shine. And also allows everyone to score. There are a bunch of guys that are used to putting up numbers, and there’s still only one ball on the court. It should be very interesting.
If I were Gonzalez, I would play more of an up-tempo game this year. It seems like the overall trend in this team is backcourt depth and athleticism. The best thing to do is turn them loose and let THEM play to their strengths. My only concern would be to watch carefully and make sure no one is hogging the ball. The major weakness on this team is definitely the frontcourt. They’re bringing in Pope to compliment an already strong Garcia, but there is absolutely no depth behind them. You could see it last year. They almost never used the post as an offensive weapon. Garcia was pretty much down there by himself and STILL only managed 8 points a game. Last year, Seton Hall played a game that was similar to a lot of other teams in this tier of the conference (Cincy, St. John’s, etc.): they used their defense to manufacture offense. They play both a man and a 2-3 zone with no favoritism to either one. But, in both cases, they are extremely aggressive. They’re quick on the double team, and they force a lot of turnovers. They’re also very aggressive about coming out to play you away from the basket. However, the flip side to this is that if you’re patient, and you have a point guard who can handle the pressure, theres usually someone wide open down low.
Seton Hall really struggled with rebounding last year. I think it will improve this year, but I still see it being a problem. That’s the price you pay with a guard-oriented team. I think this is a deeper team than they ever have been before. They’re brought in some guys who aren’t freshman anymore, and have some collegiate experience. They’re going to make some strides this year, but I still think they’re a bit too undisciplined to join the upper crust of the conference. I also can’t shake the idea that there will be some issues with all the guys on the roster used to getting big minutes. But that remains to be seen. Really, it’s the same story with all 3 New York area teams (Seton Hall, St. John’s and Rutgers). They’re all improving and getting very athletic, but they’re not strong enough or disciplined enough to win quite yet. Having the best New York area team at #10 in the conference is a problem for the Big East, but at least all 3 teams are headed in the right direction.