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Monday, November 24, 2008


November 24, 2008

The Seton Hall Pirates rallied together and headed off to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic last week. With just eight scholarship players currently on the SHU roster eligible to play this season, the Pirates will be short-handed all season and facing long college basketball odds, especially in the brutal Big East.. Making things even tougher for Bobby Gonzalez's crew was the fact that starting forward Robert Mitchell would be held out of action for the first two games of the event as he served a suspension for violation of NCAA rules from the previous season. With nationally ranked USC up first on Thursday night and a field that also included Memphis, Xavier, Missouri and Virginia Tech, the Pirates had their work cut out for them.

When the score at the half of their opening contest with USC scrolled along the bottom of ESPN's bottom line on their family of channels, nobody probably thought twice of seeing the score: USC 43, Seton Hall 28.

The second half was a different story. Despite even paring the rotation down even further, to six players, Gonzalez's squad frantically applied pressure, forcing 19 turnovers on the game, and limiting the Trojans to just 18 second half points on 7-29 shooting. USC did their part, making just four of 10 free throws.

Clutch shots down the stretch by Jeremy Hazell pulled the Pirates even and gave them a final lead they would not relinquish as SHU completed an improbable victory, 63-61, over the No. 19 team in the country.

Hazell finished with 15 points and Eugene Harvey led the scoring with 18. Big John Garcia did the work on the boards all game, grabbing 18 to go with his 11 points.

On Friday night, there was no surprising comeback as SHU fell to Memphis 84-70. The defending NCAA runners-up had too much firepower and depth for the Pirates, who got 32 points from Hazell, 21 from Harvey and another double-double from Garcia, but much of it came too little too late as Memphis controlled the game throughout.

After a much needed day off and the return of Robert Mitchell to the line-up, the Pirates completed their stay in Puerto Rico with a meeting with Virginia Tech of the ACC.

Twelve minutes into the contest, things were bleak as SHU already trailed 29-15. The Pirates slowly chipped their way back into the contest, closing to within 40-34 at the break.

When you figured SHU would see their legs give out in the second half, they continued to play strong, finishing a 14-1 run to take a 52-46 lead with 11:51 left in the game.

The Hokies would rally to tie the game at 57-all, but Paul Gause hit big shots down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 14 in the last eight minutes and the Pirates would cap another improbable comeback with a 77-73 victory. Once again, Jeremy Hazell would lead the team in scoring, netting 23, and leading SHU to the third place finish in the 2008 Puerto Rico Tip-off Tournament.

Now, a few days of rest will do the Pirates well, Bobby Gonzalez and his team should return to a warm Prudential Center welcome this coming weekend when they host Delaware at noon on Saturday.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


November 19, 2008

Verbal Commitment Alert: Cliff Dixon, 6'10 PF/C from Hutchinson (KS) Community College

2009-2010 Projected Roster

Seniors: Eugene Harvey (PG), John Garcia (C), Keon Lawrence (G)*
Juniors: Jeremy Hazell (G/F), Brandon Walters (BF/C), Mike Davis (PF/C), Robert Mitchell (G/F), Cliff Dixon (C/PF)
Sophomores: Jordan Theodore (PG), Melvyn Oliver** (C), Herb Pope (PF)
Freshmen: None

* currently applying for a hardship waiver that would have him on the court in December for the 2008-2009 season. If granted, he will be a senior on the 2009-2010 roster. If denied, he will be listed as a junior

** Has yet to be cleared by the NCAA (as of 11/19/08) to be eligible to compete

*** Will sit out the 2008-2009 season per NCAA Transfer rule, having three years of eligibility beginning with the 2009-2010 season

According to the Game On! blog at, Anthony Fucilli reports that Cliff Dixon Commits to Seton Hall, giving the Pirates and coach Bobby Gonzalez their first commitment for the recruiting class of 2009.

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Cliff Dixon has taken the long road to a spot in Division 1-A basketball. Originally attending Douglass High School in the DC-area, Dixon moved on to Suitland (MD) High School as a senior for the 2005-2006 season after academic issues sidelined him at Douglass. had Dixon rated as a two-star prospect after his senior season. With qualifying for college a long shot, Dixon decided to take a post-graduate year at the Patterson School in North Carolina, according t reports, but then turned up at the now defunct Philadelphia Lutheran before finishing off at Progressive Christian. After the year as a post-graduate, Dixon then landed at Motlow College playing along side one-time Cincinnati commit Tyree Evans. At Motlow Dixon began to show signs of having a high-major college future, averaging 16.6 points a game and 10 rebounds a contest for coach Bobby Steinburg. After the season at Motlow, Dixon continued his nomadic ways and is now playing at JUCO power Hutchinson Community College in Kansas for coach Ryan Swanson. This far, through eight games in the young season, Dixon is averaging 15.9 points a game and just over 7 rebounds a contest.

Dixon is something that SHU desperately needs to help their college basketball odds of challenging in the loaded Big East: a body with size. Dixon is not the most physical player and he is definitely built more along the lines of his more famous half-brother, Kevin Durant, than some of the brawny Big East post players he will be facing, but Dixon will be an experienced frontcourt player to add to the mix for the Pirates next season. At this point, Dixon is a verbal commitment, expected to sign a letter of intent in the spring signing period.

The commitment is the good news for Seton Hall. However, Jeff Goodman is reporting that although Seton Hall Finally Lands a recruit (, there are some questions as, according to Goodman, Dixon is currently suspended at Hutchinson. We have made inquiries, hopefully we will learn more tomorrow on Dixon's status with the Hutchinson program.

Although Dixon is the only recruiting commitment for the class of 2009 at this point in time, he will be one of at least two, if not three, new faces on the court for SHU next season.

Keon Lawrence probably never should have left New Jersey out of high school. The 6'2, 175 lb guard from Newark (NJ) Weequahic High School chose Missouri, although second thoughts entered his mind often. Now, after a sophomore season where he led the Tigers in minutes played (29.2) a game, starting 20 of 32 games and leading Mizzou in field goal attempts (307), Lawrence is taking his 11 points a game and going back home.

According to Alif Muhammad, who has helped Lawrence through the recruiting process out of high school and out of Missouri, stated that Bobby Gonzalez has promised to turn the ball over to Lawrence once Eugene Harvey graduates after the 2009-2010 season. Others after Lawrence, reportedly, included Marquette, Providence, Cincinnati and others.

Rutgers was considered after high school, but their roster was a little more guard heavy at this point.

Currently, Lawrence is in the process of applying for a hardship waiver that will allow him to play during the 2008-2009 season instead of having to sit out the entire year as a normal NCAA transfer student. The central position of the waiver is that Lawrence decided to leave Missouri because of a need to be closer to home because of family issues. If the NCAA finds that the reasons of his leaving Missouri were not because of basketball, but because of these family issues, that there is a good chance of a waiver. However, the NCAA usually relies quite heavily on the input from the former school on the reason for the transfer, and it is unclear if Mizzou will completely agree with that reasoning for his transfer. We will see...

Also, Lawrence would not have been eligible to compete in the first semester of the 2008-2009 season as he would not be transferring with enough credits to be eligible as a junior student. That is a common issue for transfers as not all credits are transferable and is one of the reasons for the residency rule making so much sense in regards to transfers.

While the Pirates begin the Lawrence waiver watch, they already have gone through the process with New Mexico State transfer Herb Pope, but were denied the original waiver and the appeal. Pope is the mega-talented forward from Aliquippa (PA) but has run into trouble on more than one occasion in recent years. Pope was sent home from his final AAU Tournament as a member of the Pittsburgh Jots for an altercation with a coach, an incident that did not seem to surprise many familiar with his past. Things actually got worse from there as Pope was shot several times outside a party in the Pittsburgh-area in April of his senior year of high school after being in an altercation outside the party. Pope survived the gunfire and headed off to school at New Mexico State. While at New Mexico State, Pope was having trouble clearing the NCAA eligibility department as an online course he took in high school as a core course was challenged by the NCAA. While NM State worked to get him cleared, Pope was arrested for DUI when police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car with the engine running in a traffic lane.

Pope finally did make it onto the court at NM State after a court order was issued. Pope played well after all of the trials and tribulations that followed him in the recent past and he averaged 11 points and nearly 7 rebounds a game in the 16 games he was deemed eligible for at New Mexico State.

Pope then decided to leave New Mexico late this past summer to be closer to home. He ended up enrolling at Seton Hall and hoped to be granted a hardship waiver to play this season. However, that was denied by the NCAA and Pope will sit out the 2008-2009 season and be ready to suit up next year, giving the Pirates a much needed talent boost at power forward next year.

With the commitment of Dixon and the additions of Lawrence and Pope, the Pirates still have three scholarships open. That number could increase depending on the status of Melvyn Oliver who, as of November 19th, still has not been cleared by the NCAA to be eligible. Also, John Garcia will be a 5th year senior in 2009-2010, but chronic knee problems has led to some public speculation that he might not return. However, Garcia's knees seem to be doing well early this season.

For now, it looks like the Pirates will become very active in the spring signing period filling out their roster. They have been the leader for Westchester CC 7-footer Jarrid Famous for an extended period of time, but Famous has decided to wait until the spring before signing a letter of intent and the interested schools in his talents continue to grow at a rapid pace. Former South Florida commitment Eugene Teague, a 6'7 power forward, has also made it onto the SHU radar. Teague, who failed to qualify as a 2008 recruit, is now enrolled at the Apex Academies for another year of prep and recently took an unofficial visit to Seton Hall for an exhibition game. SHU has an attractive offer to spring recruits of playing time and a chance to play in the Big East.

The Pirates have also been quite active in the class of 2010 already, being among the leaders for local standouts Jayon James, Fuquan Edwin and Shaquille Thomas, all of whom were teammates of current Pirate Jordan Theodore last season at Paterson (NJ) Catholic. St. Anthony's big man Derrick Williams as well as Plainfield's Isaiah Epps are on the Pirates' watch list as well.


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November 19, 2008

Despite at least three scholarships open for the 2009 recruiting class, Seton Hall did not receive a single signed letter of intent in the early signing period, missing out on several prospects along the way.

Recruiting is the obvious lifeblood of a program and is the biggest factor in determining the college basketball odds of success of a program.

Seton Hall has taken an odd approach to filling their roster, hitting the college basketball version of the waiver wire pretty heavily, brining in transfers such as Robert Mitchell (Duquesne), Keon Lawrence (Missouri) and Herb Pope (New Mexico State) and each will be expected to play key roles next season (if not sooner if Lawrence is granted a wiaver).

The Pirates did pick up a verbal commitment from JUCO forward Cliff Dixon at the time of the early signing period. Dixon, whi is currently suspended from the Hutchinson CC team, is expected to sign a letter of intent in the spring signing period.

As for spring targets, the Pirates are looking at Pittsburgh native DeAndre kane, currently at the Patterson School, NC forward Andre Marhold and have also been involved with Wake Forest transfer Jamie Skeen with their open scholarships.

- note: post edited 12/12/2008.


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Sunday, November 16, 2008


November 16, 2008

NEWARK, NJ - The coaching axiom tells us the first four minutes of each half are crucial. For Seton Hall the initial moments of the second half basically settled the issue in a 71-50 victory over Columbia. The win at the Prudential Center put the Pirates at 2-0 on the young season.

Columbia made a late first half run to trim a 15 point deficit to 7. The Hall then opened the second half scoring on their first three possessions. Overall the Pirates scored nine points in their six possessions during the initial four minutes of the final half. Columbia didn’t score a point over their initial half dozen possessions. That’s an efficiency rate of 150-0 in Seton Hall’s favor and sure to increase your College Basketball Odds of winning against anybody. And after those four minutes the Hall lead was at 16 and the momentum largely in their favor.

The totals…

Seton Hall..............70.3....................101

Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez lauded his team’s defense. The defense also sparkled in Firday’s easy win over 88-61 St.Francis of NY. A tempo free check shows St.Francis had an offensive efficiency of 83 so Gonzalez was right about the defense.

Columbia had 16 first half turnovers (a horrific 31 % of their possessions ending in TOs). They had five the second half but still finished with a 23% TO rate. Over 20% is considered too high.

Columbia came off a win at Fordham on Friday where they dominated the boards. That was a Gonzalez priority and the Hall responded with a 46-34 rebounding edge.

A few notes on the Hall players…

Robert Mitchell - The Duquesne transfer is listed at 6-6 but is more a three or two rather than a banger. Mitchell will hit the three and occasionally penetrate. He had ten against Columbia but was 4 of 15 from the floor.

John Garcia
- The senior post player hit the glass hard but struggled to finish in the first half against a front court he enjoyed a size advantage over. Finished with a notable 11 points 14 boards.

Eugene Harvey - Almost became the second player in Hall history to record a triple double (the late Eddie Griffin was the only one). Harvey scored 12 points pulled down 10 boards and handed out 8 assists. Another solid Harvey effort.

Jeremy Hazell - Loves the three but gets to the line. “I think defenders come out fast on him and panic because he can shoot so well,” Gonzalez said. “As a result he shotts threes but gets fouled.” Had a game high 21 points and was 4 of 9 from three and 7 of 9 from the line.

Paul Gause - Added 5 points in 32 minutes. A defensive specialist but not as noticeable because the Hall pressed sparingly.

Jordan Theodore - First off the bench. The freshman guard comes in to run the point which gives Harvey a breather or allows him to shift to the two spot. Theodore added 5 points in 17 minutes.

: Hall attempted 36 % of their shots beyond the arc. Expect that given the starting five of Mitchell, Garcia, Harvey, Gause and Hazell which is basically four guards and a post. Gonzalez mixed up the pressing nicely. He opened with a press then took it off after a few minutes. Later he used it in spots. The Hall coach went zone part of the second half. “It was our second game in three days,” he said, “and we didn’t have the legs yet (for a full game of man to man).”

Quotable: Gonzalez spoke about the 2-0 start noting, “people say we opened with easy teams but those teams are dangerous this time of year. Look what happened to Providence losing to Northeastern and VMI beating Kentucky. Our aim is to win these games at home against teams you are supposed to beat.”

Pete Peregrin, a 6-0 walk-on, one of four on the roster, from South Plainfield, NJ was given a huge ovation when he entered the contest. He missed his only shot attempt from three.


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


November 5, 2008

Another player sliding down our rankings this year is Eugene Harvey of Seton Hall. At first glance, number of 13 points, 5 assists and 2 steals a game for a sophomore floor general is very solid. However, considering that at the end of December, Harvey was averaging 18.4 points a game, he definitely slid once conference play began.

The worry we had heading into last year was if Harvey would adapt into a point guard looking to make the team better after coming in and scoring a lot as a freshman. His rookie campaign saw him average 16.5 points a game, but with some added talent to help him as a sophomore, Harvey seemed to struggle in managing the game, and it showed as the season wore on and the tough Big East conference began to take its toll.

The Pirates lost eight of their last 10 games and Harvey struggled mightily in those final 10 games, averaging just 7 points a game, shooting 30% from the field, 12.5% from three point range and averaging a tough to swallow 4.6 turnovers a contest. Not numbers you want from your lead guard.

Still, writers for the NBE Basketball Report see promise in Harvey and his playmaking skills from his days at St. Benedict's prep where he showed the ability to be a true point guard. This season, Bobby Gonzalez needs Harvey to step up his leadership, and his appointment as captain this year should be a positive sign he is taking a leadership role. If Seton Hall is to ever improve their NCAA basketball odds of reaching the post-season this year, having their point guard on the same page of the coach is going to play a big role of making it happen.


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