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Friday, February 27, 2009


February 28, 2009

Seton Hall and Pittsburgh meet Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark (NJ) in front of a sellout crowd as the Pirate faithful hope to send off senior Paul Gause a winner in his home finale. In order to do so, they will have to do a first in their history, knock off the #1 team in the country.

While Pitt may be ranked #1, it certainly seems to have been forgotten as the Panthers were stunned on Tuesday night in Providence. The Frairs swarmed a lethargic group of Panthers, closing the first half on a 15-1 run to take a 44-26 halftime lead and held off a charge from Pitt that was too little too late in a 81-73 upset.

While it took Pitt nearly 30 minutes to wake up on Tuesday as they cut a 20-point deficit to five, that lack of focus to begin the game costs them. They will be heading into another charged atmosphere on Saturday night, but you can definitely expect the Panthers to be playing with a little more urgency on both ends of the floor to begin the game Saturday.

Seton Hall is likely to come out and try to push the Panthers into a frantic pace and hope to draw some fouls against the Panthers, especially big man DeJuan Blair. The Pirates are very thin, but they have some offensive talent and could cause some problems for Pitt on defense with dribble penetration and spreading the floor. If they can get Pitt on their heels and able to break down the defense off the dribble, they could challenge Blair and possibly get him in foul trouble.

The other aspect offensively that SHU will hope to have clicking is the three-ball, especially from Jeremy Hazell. If Hazell can knock down a few three’s, it could cause Pitt to go to a smaller line-up to match-up with the Pirates and it will also get the crowd in a frenzy. Hazell has the ability to get on a big time roll from the arc, and if that happens, look out.

Pitt will need Levance Fields to control the tempo and feed Sam Young and Blair on offense. Those two should be nearly unstoppable near or around the basket and SHU will likely have to concede some points in the paint. The dangerous one is Young, when he gets his offense going, his all-around game seems to pick up considerably. If he attacks the basket and knocks down some mid-range shots early, he is tough to stop and opens more room for Blair to dominate the offensive boards. John Garcia will have his hands full against Blair, who is bulkier and more athletic than Garcia.

Seton Hall is likely to put up one of their best efforts of the season in this game. However, Pitt coming off the loss at PC will likely have the Panthers ready to put forth a big effort on their end. While SHU will excite the home crowd at times, look for Pitt to slowly take control and use their depth and strength inside to come up with a win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Pittsburgh 78
Seton Hall 72

Seton Hall Determined to Make Postseason for Paul Gause (Star-Ledger)
Pitt Hopes to Avoid Deja Vu Against Seton Hall (Tribune-Review)
Young, Fields Flying Under the Radar (Tribune-Review)


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


February 25, 2009

Seton Hall, 5-9 in Big East and 14-12 overall, hostsd South Florida, 3-11 Big East and 8-18 overall, in a Big East conference match-up Wednesday night at the Prudential Center in Newark (NJ).

The Pirates look to return home after a road loss at St. John's Sunday evening and snap a three-game losing streak at the expense of the Bulls. After dropping their first six conference games, SHU rebounded with five straight wins to build some momentum and reach 5-6 in the Big East. It was the second straight year the Pirates have had a five-game winning streak in Big East play, the hope to make sure those are not the only five wins in the conference.

USF had a season highlight win over Marquette earlier this month. They have matched their Big East-best three conference wins by also sweeping DePaul in their home and home and now will try to get their fourth conference win tonight as they travel to Newark.

Last season the game between USF and SHU went right down to the wire with Seton Hall pulling out a 79-75 win at USF. If the Bulls are able to reverse the tables and grab a win on the road they will need Dominique Jones to carry the load offensively and also a healthy Jesus Verdejo to be a strong offensive contributor.

Despite a thin roster, SHU does possess some offensive firepower, led by shooter Jeremy Hazell and will look to push the tempo and get the Bulls into a track meet. If that gameplan is to be successful in the Big East, they will need a strong floor game from point guard Eugene Harvey, who is coming off a horrible game at St. John's. Feeling the effects of an allergic reaction, Harvey finished the game scoreless and committing five turnovers. SHU can not afford for Harvey to go into a tailspin to close out the season, similar to last season, so a bounceback game from Bobby Gonzalez's point guard is needed.

All in all, SHU has more talent than USF and should find scoring to be quite easy against the Bulls. While USF is certainly going to put forth the effort, they simply do not have the size or the depth to take advantage of the SHU shortcomings.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Seton Hall 76
South Florida 63

USF Continues to Fight as Season Nears End (St. Pete Times)
Bulls' Guard Verdejo Probable for Seton Hall (St. Pete Times)


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Monday, February 23, 2009


February 23, 2009

Recruiting Rivals Reuinited in Queens before a sell-out crowd in Carnesecca Arena to witness St. John's Hold Off Seton Hall (Newsday), 70-65.

St. John's dominated the backcoards, outrebounding Seton Hall by a 49-31 margin and overcoming their 36.5% (23-63) shooting performance by accumulating 27 offensive boards, an astounding number.

Justin Burrell (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Sean Evans (10 points, 13 rebounds) each posted double-doubles in the game and DJ Kennedy had a team-high 21 points as St. John's Beats Seton Hall (Star Ledger), handing the Pirates their third straight loss and dropping them to 5-9 in the Big East.

Jeremy Hazell led SHU with 22 points and the Pirates have a date with South Florida at the Prudential Center next prior to a home date with No. 1 Pittsburgh this weekend. SHU finishes the regular season with road games at Louisville and Cincinnati prior to the 2009 Big East Tournament.


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Sunday, February 22, 2009


February 22, 2009

In a rematch of a February 5th contest, won by Seton Hall 91-81, St. John’s looks to even the score between the two teams when they meet on the SJU campus in Carnesecca Arena Sunday afternoon.

Once again it is a season of streaks for SHU. After beginning conference play 0-6, the Pirates rattled off five straight wins against the lower third of the Big East. Since that streak, SHU has lost two in a row, although they played fairly well, against UConn and Marquette. Now, with USF coming to Newark on Wednesday, the Pirates hope to build some momentum for a tough finishing stretch.

St. John’s made a late rally to make the final score in Thursday’s match-up with Duke look closer than the game really was. The Redstorm are 3-10 in the Big East and are currently mired in a five-game losing streak.

This is a key game for both programs who recruit many of the same players in the NYC/NJ metro area. Bobby Gonzalez has made it pretty clear he circles the local rivalry games and thus far this season they have already swept NJ-rival Rutgers and are looking to complete the sweep against SJU, but much to his dismay, it will have to be accomplished on the Queens campus at Carnesecca Arena and not at Madison Square Garden.

The Redstorm has been hit hard by injuries all season long. They are likely as healthy as they will be for this game with Malik Boothe, Justin Burrell and Rob Thomas all in the line-up after missing some time throughout the season. Their best player, Anthony Mason Jr, was lost for the year in November.

The key to this game will be the Redstorm defense on Jeremy Hazell. A good strategy would be to put DJ Kennedy on him and make his assignment to contest everything. SHU does have other scoring options outside of Hazell, but his three’s seem to ignite the Pirates and for them to win on the road he is likely to need to be ‘on’.

This should be a pretty intense game, but the SHU pressure defense really pushed the pace in the first meeting, leading to the SHU win. If the Redstorm do not get better guard play and control the pace, the same thing is likely to happen.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Seton Hall 80
St. John’s 75


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


February 17, 2009

Marquette broke their brief two-game slide Saturday by returning home and bouncing St. John's, 73-59, behind a strong defensive effort, much better than the one that allowed 102 points in their previous game. After beginning conference play 9-0, Marquette lost on the road to South Florida and Villanova before the win of the Redstorm this weekend.

Seton Hall started conference play 0-6 before a five-game win streak breathed life back into the Pirates. That streak was ended on Saturday in a 62-54 loss on their home floor to UConn. Despite a valiant effort by junior John Garcia, the Pirates fell as Hasheem Thabeet dominated with 25 points, 20 rebounds and 9 blocked shots.

Marquette is led by the school's all-time leading scorer Jerel McNeal and his senior classmate backcourt partners Dominic James and Wesley Mathews. They will be tested by the SHU trip of Eugene Harvey, Paul Gause and Jeremy Hazell. Each team will use a small forward as their 'big' forward with Lazar Hayward of the Golden Eagles matched up with SHU's Robert Mitchell. John Garcia has a favorable match-up in the paint in this one, if the pace of the game is played more in his favor, like it was on Saturday.

Seton Hall went to a more deliberate pace against UConn this weekend, something out of the norm for the Pirates. While they never really threatened in the game, they kept it close and fought to the end. Marquette will look to push the tempo and if SHU gets pulled in, it will be very interesting, because this is one game where SHU would have an advantage in size AND depth in the paint.

However, the home team with the veteran backcourt is usually more effective in dictating the pace. If that is the case, Marquette should be very comfortable in this game and score a lot of points. The track meet could make Garcia a non-factor and lead to a Golden Eagles win.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 91
Seton Hall 77


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Saturday, February 14, 2009


February 15, 2009

Hasheem Thabeet showed why he might be the biggest game-changer in the college game today. With the Connecticut perimeter offense stalled in their first game without the injured Jerome Dyson, UConn Gets 25 Points, 20 Rebounds & 9 Blocks from Thabeet in Win over Seton Hall (Briston Press). The Husk defense limited the Pirates to 31% shooting, despite a career day from John Garcia, in the 62-54 win.

Seton Hall had won five consecutive games after starting the season 0-6 in Big East play. However, their perimeter offense went south in this one as Robert Mitchell (4-19), Jeremy Hazell (3-13) and Eugene Harvey (5-22) combined to shoot 12-54 from the field.

Garcia hit 10 of 13 shots from the floor and grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked 6 shots himself, to go along with 22 points.

Thabeet's partner in crime Jeff Adrien added 14 points and 15 rebounds as UConn overcame their own perimeter scoring troubles as both AJ Price and Craig Austrie shot 2-10 from the floor. Husky fans will hope the duo got that out of their system with Pitt coming to Hartford on Monday.

Seton Hall falls to 5-7 in the Big East and travels to Milwaukee to face Marquette on Tuesday night.


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February 15, 2009

Hasheem Thabeet showed why he might be the biggest game-changer in the college game today. With the Connecticut perimeter offense stalled in their first game without the injured Jerome Dyson, UConn Gets 25 Points, 20 Rebounds & 9 Blocks from Thabeet in Win over Seton Hall (Briston Press). The Husk defense limited the Pirates to 31% shooting, despite a career day from John Garcia, in the 62-54 win.

Seton Hall had won five consecutive games after starting the season 0-6 in Big East play. However, their perimeter offense went south in this one as Robert Mitchell (4-19), Jeremy Hazell (3-13) and Eugene Harvey (5-22) combined to shoot 12-54 from the field.

Garcia hit 10 of 13 shots from the floor and grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked 6 shots himself, to go along with 22 points.

Thabeet's partner in crime Jeff Adrien added 14 points and 15 rebounds as UConn overcame their own perimeter scoring troubles as both AJ Price and Craig Austrie shot 2-10 from the floor. Husky fans will hope the duo got that out of their system with Pitt coming to Hartford on Monday.

Seton Hall falls to 5-7 in the Big East and travels to Milwaukee to face Marquette on Tuesday night.


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February 14, 2009

The two hottest teams in the Big East collide in a high noon showdown at the Prudential Center in Newark (NJ) on Saturday. The Connecticut Huskies, winners of 12 in a row and currently ranked No. 1 in the nation take on…Seton Hall? Yes, that’s right folks, outside of UConn’s 12-game win streak, the SHU win streak of five is the second longest in the conference now after Villanova’s loss last night.

Connecticut enters Saturday’s contest with an 11-1 Big East mark and a 23-1 overall record. The Husky defense has been devastating in recent weeks and they have not allowed more than 61 points in a game since January 21st, a stretch of six games where opponents are averaging just 55 points a game and just 0.815 points per possession.

With college basketball’s most intimidating eraser in the post, 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet, the game plan and preparation of opponents is altered as often as their shots on gameday.

“For Thabeet we’re going to use a hockey stick for a couple of days to try to get ready for it,” SHU coach Bobby Gonzalez said this week in the coach’s conference call with media members.

For Seton Hall, 5-6 in the Big East, a date with the Huskies can be a true measuring stick of their progress this season. The Pirates began conference play 0-6, but have rebounding with five consecutive losses. However, UConn has more conference wins (11) than the aggregate total of the five SHU victims (9-48).

Seton Hall began their streak as the worst (statistically) defensive and rebounding team in the Big East. However, in their five wins, they have limited opponents to 63.4 points a game and a point per possession ratio of 0.97, which is a bit better than their seasonal mark of 0.996 according to In their six losses, SHU allowed 90.5 points a game and 1.23 points per possession. How bad is that mark? Well, of the 344 teams in Divison 1-A basketball, the worst ratio for any team on the season is 1.21.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on the contest:

Huskies Get First Look at What Life After Dyson Looks Like Today (Middletown Press)
Seton Hall Coach Bobby Gonzalez has Never Seen Anything like Hasheem Thabeet (Star-Ledger)
UConn Begins Life After Dyson (Connecticut Post)
Seton Hall Center Leads With His Legs (NY Times)
UConn Men: Stand or Fall (Journal Inquirer)

So, on Saturday we will get a chance to see where SHU is. There are some factors in their favor. One, UConn is dealing with an injury situation as junior guard Jerome Dyson is out indefinitely after tearing the lateral meniscus of his right knee in Wednesday’s 63-49 win over Syracuse. Two, UConn likely can’t help but peek at least a little bit toward Monday’s huge top five showdown with Pittsburgh. And, three, Seton Hall is a confident crew that has their coach believing big things are ahead.
“Seton Hall has been playing basketball for 105 years and they’ve never beaten a team that’s No. 1 in the country, not ever,” Gonzalez said in the conference call. “[UConn] is always going to be great, I’m sure. But eventually we’re going to beat them.”

Will that eventually come on Saturday? That is probably too tall of a task right now for SHU. Although they have a starting five that can play with anyone straight-up, it is when adjustments need to be made and different looks that SHU has no answer for while other teams can go to their bench or call on a different style of play.

SHU guard Jeremy Hazell is the league’s second leading scorer and will be looking to bomb away and he has the confidence to get hot and keep the Pirates in it. But in the end, Thabeet and Jeff Adrien are too much muscle inside and AJ Price is a steadying influence on the perimeter and veterans Craig Austrie and Stanley Robinson have stepped up before when Dyson missed time due to a suspension last year, look for them to do it again this season.

NBE Blogger Preview:

Connecticut 78
Seton Hall 64


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


February 11, 2009

For the second season in a row, Seton Hall has put together a five-game win streak in Big East play. After starting conference play 0-6, SHU upset Georgetown (4-7) on their home floor and then finished off a four-game home stand with wins over Rutgers (1-10) and St. John's (3-8). They have now extended the streak by hitting the road to complete a sweep over Rutgers on Sunday afternoon and can now add DePaul (0-12) to their list of victims after Seton Hall Downs DePaul, 72-49 (Star Ledger) in Allstate Arena on Tuesday night.

Eugene Harvey had an efficient 19 points to go along with 6 assists to lead SHU. 'Stix' Mitchell added 16 points and a team-high 9 rebounds and Jeremy Hazell contributed 13 for the Pirates, who shot 51% from the floor as a team and turned it over just six times all game against a listless Blue Demons squad.

Dar Tucker led DePaul last night with 19 points and Mac Koshwal added 11 points and 16 rebounds.

So after building a 5-game win streak on the backs of team's with a combined aggregate conference record of 9-47 (.161), SHU faces a pair of stiffer tests in front of them when they host No. 1 Connecticut this weekend and then travel to Villanova next week. The Pirates have done what was needed to seperate themselves from the bottom of the conference.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


February 10, 2009

Will DePaul win a Big East game this season? Tonight might be their best opportunity when Seton Hall visits Allstate Arena. If the Blue Demons were to play the Pirates, this might be the best time to do so. Seton Hall is coming off a hard-fought road win over rival Rutgers, 65-60, on Sunday and has a quick turnaround to play DePaul. SHU is not a deep team, playing six players for the most part, and this will be their third game in a six-day span.

DePaul is coming off a 92-69 home loss to Pittsburgh. At times, the Blue Demons looked ok, but they could not sustain good play for stretches and had no answer in the paint for DeJuan Blair.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on tonight’s game found on the web:

DePaul’s Jabari Currie Done for the Season (Chicago Tribune)
Blue Demons Still Searching for Big East Win (Courier News)

So, will DePaul win a Big East game this season? The odds of a team, with some talent like the Blue Demons, going 0-18 in the Big East are long, but if anyone can do it, DePaul looks like a perfect candidate. They are already well on their way, being swept by USF in a home and away series and losing to Rutgers and St. John’s by double digits. They have lost their last four games by an average of 20 points, including the last two at home, by 15 to Marquette and 23 to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Now, Seton Hall, who has won four in a row, will pay a visit as DePaul looks to salvage something in this three-game home stand.

Seton Hall, a 2 ½-point favorite on the road, started Big East play 0-6, but has turned the ship around winning four straight. While the wins have come against the bottom of the Big East with two over Rutgers (1-10 in the Big East) and victories against St. John’s (3-8) and Georgetown (4-7), teams with a combined conference mark of 9-35, SHU seems to have separated themselves from that pack. Now, they look to make 0-11 DePaul their next victim.

Everyone knows SHU is not deep, especially in the frontcourt where gimpy John Garcia guts his way through games, but DePaul is not very deep either. The starting line-up for SHU is definitely talented, sometimes inconsistent and prone to curious decision-making and shot selection, but they love to pull teams into a playground-type of frenzied play. DePaul’s biggest problem, one stretching Jerry Wainwright’s entire tenure in Lincoln Park, has been the inability of their point guards to control the pace and dictate the game. If they fail to do so tonight, they could be run out of their own building, once again.

DePaul has some talent, led by sophomore’s Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal, but the drop-off to the rest of the team is steep. Outside of Will Walker, their top duo has little help at all. That line-up can not get it done in the Big East.

Seton Hall, playing better, is a 2 1/2-point favorite on the road…’nuff said.

NBE Blogger Preview:

Seton Hall 76
DePaul 67


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Monday, February 09, 2009


February 9, 2009

The Jersey grudge match that is Seton Hall and Rutgers took place for the second time in 10 days, this time at the RAC on the Rutgers campus, on Sunday afternoon. As expected, it was a tight and intense affair that came down to the final minutes.

The Pirates finished the game on a 7-0 run as Seton Hall Beats Rutgers, 65-60, to Sweep Season Series (Star-Ledger). After starting Big East play 0-6, SHU has now won four straight and have a date at DePaul next. The Rutgers season of improved expectations and momentum from some recruiting success is turning into another disaster as they fall to 1-10 in the Big East and 10-14 overall.

Jeremy Hazell had a game-high 19 points and John Garcia gutted out a 13-point, 8-rebound performance to lead the Pirates as Seton Hall Beats the Scarlet Knights for Second Time this Season (Asbury Park Press).

Rutgers did not help themselves down the stretch as they turned the ball over, missed free throws and shot after shot. The Loss to Seton Hall Shows Rutgers Coach Fred Hill, Jr. is Getting Outcoached (Star-Ledger) and his Big East head coaching record is 6-41 in his third season. The third season is the year where a coach is supposed to make his move and the direction of the program is established. With Rutgers scheduled to have a new athletic director in place in the near future, Hill better show some progress in the near future. As the losses continue to pile up, the recruiting momentum that was built last summer seems to dwindle rapidly.

Mike Rosario led RU with 15 points, but the tough defense of SHU senior Paul Gause made him work very hard for each of those points and forced him into 5 turnovers. Gause has Become the Senior Leader for Seton Hall (Gloucester Times) and he added 10 points and 4 steals in the win yesterday.

While RU's struggles under Hill continue, maybe Bobby Gonzalez is point the Pirates in the right direction. While the four game win streak has not come against teams with a 9-35 (.205) combined Big East record, it looks like Gonzalez Rights Seton Hall (NY Daily News) after the 0-6 start and has positioned them above the other conference bottom-feeders, something many believed Fred Hill was going to start doing this year.


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Sunday, February 08, 2009


February 8, 2009

It is already time for the rematch between Garden State rivals on Sunday when Rutgers and Seton Hall square off at high noon at the RAC. Just 10 days earlier, Seton Hall held off a late Rutgers rally for a 70-67 win in the always hotly contested match-up.

Seton Hall is riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak in the contest which has been largely thanks to the extremely hot hand of Jeremy Hazell. The sophomore scorer-extraordinaire scored 35 in the win over Rutgers, with 28 coming in the second half. In his last outing, a 91-81 SHU win over St. John’s, Hazell scored 31 more.

Rutgers finally got their first Big East win of the year as they beat up on punching bag DePaul last weekend. They followed that up with a 57-47 setback at Georgetown and now face their rivals, looking for revenge from the earlier defeat.

Here are some pregame stories and previews on the game:

Friendly Rivals (Asbury Park Press)
Mike Rosario is Still Working Hard for Rutgers as SHU Comes to the RAC (
RU vs. SHU: The Sequel (

We keep waiting for Rutgers to show some progress and improvement in Fred Hill’s third season as head coach. The Scarlet Knights were 2-14 and 3-15 in his first two seasons and there was some hype surrounding this year’s club with the additions of Mike Rosario and Greg Echenique. However, it has not translated into success on the court as RU is just 1-9 in the Big East this season.

Rosario has done his part as one of the top freshman in the Big East, unfortunately, the team around him often plays in a dysfunctional manner with little flow on offense and often playing into the opponents preferred style.

Seton Hall will try and get Rutgers into their manic style of basketball. That is often easier done at home than on the road where the crowd and officials can be more favorable to tilt the game in their favor. Now, they will have to get back onto the road and see if their momentum of three straight wins will carry over.

The Pirates just finished a four-game home stand, winning their last three, and now face RU and DePaul on the road before the schedule toughens once again. They certainly have some impressive offensive talent, now they will have to come together on the road for a win.

The college basketball lines this morning show Rutgers as a 1 ½-point favorite on their home floor. While SHU looks to be the better team, Rutgers is likely to play this game as it is their season on their home floor. Look for the Knights to come out with a win, in a very intense battle between the two Jersey schools of the Big East.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Rutgers 73
Seton Hall 70


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Friday, February 06, 2009


by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ – Mark it down as three straight for Seton Hall. The Pirates defeated St. John’s 91-81 at the Prudential Center on Thursday evening. A tempo free breakdown…

Final totals…

Seton Hall...........73.....................125

What Seton Hall did well. Impose their ‘will’ on the game. Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez noted that getting an uptempo team to slow things down as opposed to doing the reverse, force a slower team to kick it high gear. Seton Hall did just that. St.John’s prefers a low sixty possession outing but by going small and applying some pressure defense, the Hall increased the tempo and built a significant early lead.

What St. John’s did well. Operate effectively inside. In the second half when they trimmed a 17 point deficit to a two possession game, the Red Storm got in the paint. DJ Kennedy (20) points was particularly effective. For the game, St. John’s enjoyed a strong 41% offensive rebounding percentage and won the battle of the boards 40-33.

Jeremy Hazell, the Seton Hall sharpshooter, led all scorers with 31 points. These evenings are becoming a regular occurrence for the scintillating soph.

Seton Hall even shot better from three than two point range.

Two point shooting................Three point shooting
21-42 (50%.............................8-14 (57%)

St. John’s was led by Paris Horne’s 21 points and is now 12-10 (3-7 Big East). Seton Hall improved to 12-9 (3-6 Big East).


“A lot of people look at points allowed to determine if a team is good defensively. Points allowed is affected by the pace of the game, we prefer to look at points per possession. That gives a better indication of a team’s defense.” –Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez

“We looked at this four game home stretch and hoped to get three. We lost the first one in overtime to Providence in a game we should have won. Coming back to beat Georgetown and getting that first conference win was huge. You need that first win to start a streak and now our kids are more confident. To win three straight after starting 0-6 in this league is something.” – Gonzalez

“We dug too deep a hole to come back. We didn’t defend very well but no excuses, they just outplayed us.” – St. John’s coach Norm Roberts


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Thursday, February 05, 2009


February 5, 2009

The Seton Hall Pirates, on a current two-game win streak, host Norm Roberts and his St. John's Redstorm at the Prudential Center in Newark (NJ) tonight in a Big East match-up. SHU beat Rutgers, 70-67, in their last game behind 35 points from Jeremy Hazell and are 2-6 in Big East play.

The Redstorm have won two of three, beating Rutgers, 70-59, and South Florida, 65-48, at home and losing 75-52 at West Virginia in between. SJU is 3-6 in the Big East.

Pregame stories and previews:

St. John's & Seton Hall Ready for Battle (NY Daily News)

The 'storm received a nice lift to their line-up with the return of Malik Boothe and Rob Thomas from injury in their last game, a win over USF. Boothe had not played since a December 21st loss to Virginia Tech because of an injured thumb. Being the lone SJU true point guard, coach Roberts was anxious to get him back on the court and the sophomore logged 37 minutes against USF.

Thomas provides an offensive lift off the bench, and had scored in double digits in four of five games before injuring a groin in the 1st half of a loss to UConn on January 15th. He had six points in 18 minutes in his return.

SJU had already lost Anthony Mason Jr for the season, so this is probably as full of a compliment of players as they will have this season. Boothe moves back into a backcourt that has a very hot player next to him, Paris Horne. The 6'3 sophomore is averaging a team-best 14.4 points a game, but that number is 18.8 in the last six contests. Fellow sophomore DJ Kennedy, a 6'6 wing, averages 13 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds for SJU.

Seton Hall is led by Jeremy Hazell, one of the nation's top scorers at 23.4 points a game. The 35-point performance was one of his five 30-pt plus games this year and he averages 24.8 points in Big East games. Hazell has the green light to launch from nearly anywhere at anytime and has the confidence to make them in any situation, no matter how many he has made, or missed, previously.

Robert 'Stix Mitchell adds 15.7 points and game and point guard Eugene Harvey averages nearly 13 points and 5 assists a game. Much is made of the short SHU roster and lack of depth that really hurts their frontcourt, but they definitely have some guys that can fill it up offensively.

The 9 PM contest is being shown by ESPN and the early college basketball odds have Seton Hall favored by 5 1/2 points on their home floor.

Being at home, you have to believe the Pirate offense will outshine the St. John's defensive effort. Their is not a lot of room for error for Seton Hall with a thin roster, but Hazell can certainly carry the load offensively and the frantic pace will likly take St. John's out of their game.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Seton Hall 76
St. John's 67


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