Saturday, January 24, 2009

Seton Hall Preview

In the spirit of the somewhat ridiculous number of explanations and excuses for the rather sulfuric-smelling egg that the Hoyas laid versus a very good West Virginia team on Thursday, I'd like to take personal responsibility for the Hoyas' loss.

I did not post a preview. Obviously, the Hoyas were so distraught at the lack of attention that they felt no will to compete. I'm late today, but I won't let them down.

The Pirates:

.                    Offense         Defense

Adj. Efficiency 108.6 (66) 102.2 (201)
eFG% 48.6 (180) 48.9 (170)
Turnover % 17.5 (19) 20.8 (174)
Off Rebound % 33.6 (162) 37.7 (308)
FT Rate 35.4 (187) 47.1 (325)

My prediction: our offensive "transformation" is going to look pretty good. In our last two games, we've faced the 5th and 3rd ranked defenses in college basketball, so it isn't exactly a shock that the offense didn't look spectacular.

Seton Hall's defense isn't special. They have little height. They don't rebound well. They foul. They don't turn the ball over. They don't force a lot of bad shots.

If the game gets close, one key will be the Hoyas making any kind of effort on the offensive boards. In some games, the Hoyas have managed to offset their own poor defensive rebounding with some good offensive rebounding (the UConn game comes to mind). In others, like WVU, they almost give up on grabbing those extra possessions and that cripples the offense. Seton Hall provides opponents with a great chance for offensive rebounds. The Hoyas need to take it.

When the Hall does play good defense, it is because they force turnovers. They haven't been nearly as good as WVU or Duke at that this year, but the Hoyas are vulnerable. The Hoyas have been sloppy with the ball recently, and no one should be looking forward to a Jason Clark - Paul Gause matchup.

Offensively, the Hall isn't a good three point shooting team, but they are streaky, especially Jeremy Hazell, who is taking over 30% of the shots while he is on the floor. That's a level of usage similar to Luke Harangody, except Hazell is only as efficient once every few games. He's an extremely streaky shooter, and if he is hot, the Hoyas' suddenly awful perimeter defense could be a huge issue.

Like any small team, the thing the Hall tends to do well when they win is offensive rebound. It's not a shock at this point to see the Hoyas outrebounded by a smaller team. The Hall isn't Duke -- small but immensely talented -- or WVU -- small but talented and strong. But if the Hoyas play lethargic, they will get many more shots than the Hoyas.

The Hoyas have lost four of six, but to very good teams. The Hall has lost eight of nine and the first two of those were to IUPUI and James Madison (in their defense, the next six were in the Big East). The Hoyas are projected to win 86% of the time by Pomeroy.

That's not crazy. West Virginia and Duke neutralized the Hoyas by going small and challenging the Hoyas to take them down low -- and Greg Monroe and the Hoyas couldn't make them pay for going small either in the low post or by crashing the offensive boards. And by playing a smaller man on Monroe, they took away his quickness advantage versus bigs. Against better teams, the Hoyas need to learn to punish teams that go small.

But Seton Hall doesn't look like a team who can take advantage of that. They could go small and play someone like Stix Mitchell on him. But I don't think they are athletic enough, and as a result the Hoyas wll likely be able to score down low and offensive rebound.

Defensively, if the Hoyas can rotate properly if they help on defense and put up any fight on the boards, they should be able to control a Seton Hall team that gets almost nothing down low.

There is a blueprint for an upset. If the Hall shoots well, rebounds, and pesters the Hoyas into another turnover filled game, they can get their first Big East win.

That said, this game is very much what Thompson always says: it's about the Hoyas. If they rebound, protect the ball and put forth the effort on defense, this should be around a ten point win on the road.

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