SETON HALL POST-GAME ANALYSIS
I reviewed a tape of Rutgers 58-53 loss to Seton Hall at the Meadowlands. The loss was very discouraging because Rutgers quickly blew a 14-point first half lead and a 13-point second half lead. The loss was further disappointing because Seton Hall wanted it more than Rutgers did, though they trailed badly for much of the game. Here are some thoughts based upoon my observations.
1. At the 6-minute mark of the first half, Rutgers led 24-10. To that point, Rutgers had played harder and tougher than Seton Hall. From that point, Seton Hall out-hustled, out-toughed, and out-gutted Rutgers. Rutgers didn't "choke" nearly as bad as I felt they did when first watching the game. Rutgers missed a lot of good shot attempts - drives, post-ups, etc. Blown FTAs were the most damning mistakes. The Pirates simply were the more clutch team. John Allen was amazing down the stretch.
2. Kareem Wright repeatedly provided help with Andre Barrett on high screens. Yet Wright was whistled for only one first half foul and didn't officially foul Barrett once until less than 6 minutes remained in the game. Barrett couldn't penetrate into the middle off of these screens and was just dribbling horizontally. Barrett got bounced around pretty good and didn't get but a single foul call. The refs were allowing a lot of contact out high. That favored Rutgers tremendously as it negated Barrett's ability to penetrate and dish.
3. Seton Hall's first points to end the drought were a pair of FTs by Damien Fray. The refs missed a really obvious travelling violation. Fray caught the ball with his back to the baseline and wheeled 90 degrees into the lane on this left foot. Where he bounced off of a waiting Kareem Wright. Fray then reverse-pivoted on his right foot to get away from Wright. After this second pivot (travel), Herve fouled Fray. It was a blatant violation that went uncalled. But it stopped the bleeding for Seton Hall. A key moment in the game.
4. The Sherrod-Barrett collision moments later was an absolutely terrible call. Neither player had possession nor position. The ball was between them and and both went hard to the ball. Sherrod hit the ball first, then collided with Barrett. That isn't a loose ball foul, that's incidental contact. Two more FTAs for the Hall. This started the 11-2 run to close the half.
5. Head Coach Gary Waters pulled Jerome Coleman after he picked up his second foul at the 7-minute mark. Seton Hall's run coincided with the depature of Coleman. Herve and Wright had a dominating stretch mid-way though the half, combining for 7 straight points inside. It was obvious that Seton Hall couldn't handle Rutgers inside. Yet, when Coleman left the game with his second foul, Wright took only one of the next seven shots while Herve was invisible. It was the Ricky Shields No-Show as Shields forced the action and 4 of 5 FGAs. Rutgers also committed 5 TOs down the stretch.
6. Seton Hall's transition game and FT shooting kept them in the game in the first half. Seton Hall scored 10 points off transition, including all 5 of their points though the 9-minute mark and their final 5 points of the half. John Allen particularly outhustled Rutgers defenders - Shields, Coleman, and Wiggan each let Allen beat them downcourt for easy baskets. Allen's first half performance was more a reflection of effort than skill. He worked hard for his points. The Hall made 8 of their first 9 FTAs before Allen gacked two late in the half.
7. Seton Hall played much stronger in the second half. On the offensive and defensive glass. The Pirates grabbed 62% of the rebounds off their glass after grabbing only 53% in the first half. The Pirates also improved thier offensive rebounding -- from 24% in the first half to 47% in the second half. Fewer shots for the cold shooting Scarlet Rutgers and more shots for the hot shooting Pirates enabled the Hall to overcome the early 13-point second half deficit.
8. After Rutgers dominated inside in the first half (12-6), Seton Hall turned the tables in the second half (14-8). Much of the scoring was set up by dribble penetration. Seton Hall got into the middle of the Rutgers defense and scored, dished, or got to the FT line. Allen also worked the low post effectively. Conversely, the Scarlet Knights failed to pound the ball inside enough, especially with Shields struggling and Rutgers in the FT bonus with nine minutes remaining (and the double bonus at the 7-minute mark). Rutgers took only 2 FTAs in the final seven minutes. On dribble penetration, the Scarlet Knights forced shots into congestion rather than passing to an open teammate -- most notably Juel Wiggan. Rutgers SHU couldn't handle Wright or Herve. Wright didn't get enough touches and Herve just disappeared for long stretches, as he usually does. Wright should have gotten 15 FGAs. He only took 7. Herve took only 8 shots. Inexcusable.
9. Rutgers second half FT shooting cost them the game. The Knights scored only 5 of a possible 12 points from the FT line. The key moment of the game occurred at the 7-minute mark with Rutgers leading by 3. Coleman gacked the front end of a one-n-one. John Allen then missed two easy shot attempts at the Seton Hall end. Herve was fouled on an offensive rebound but then also gacked front end. Rutgers had a chance to open up a 7-point lead. But the ever-present self-destruction at the FT line reared its ugly head yet again. Gotta love those fundamentals.
10. Rutgers was on the losing end of more blown calls at in the final mintues. Not that it would have mattered because the Scarlet Knights likely would have missed the resulting FTAs anyway. Kelly Whitney earned a bogus charge call when he flopped against Kareem in the low post. Whitney was caught in no-man's land, halfway between fronting Wright and playing behind Kareem. Whitney tried to move around behind Kareem on the entry pass but never established position. Wright blasted Whitney exactly because Whitney's feet weren't set. He hadn't established position. Sherrod's charge on the ensuing possession also was a blown call as Andre Sweet slid under Sherrod after Mike had left his feet, giving the shooter nowhere to land. Nonetheless, 3 more FTAs would have been nice. As would Whitney's disqualification with his 5th foul.