UPDATING THE PIRATES
Guard Jeremy Hazell, SHU's leading scorer, is listed as doubtful because of a finger injury, yet has been listed by the school as starting. If the junior plays, he could be limited in his handling and shooting touch. That's significant, as Hazell (6-5, 188 lbs.) torched WVU for 41 points earlier this season and averages 22 in about 32 minutes per game. He's essentially a hybrid three-player with the ability to score inside and out. He's shooting 44 percent from the floor, 36 from three-point range, and gets to the line more effectively than any other Hall player. Hazell is also head coach Bobby Gonzales' best defender, and he has amassed 45 steals this season. Typically, a player listed in the game notes as starting almost always at least plays, so expect to see Hazell on the floor. He'll combine with a trio of other guards, the best of which is probably Herb Pope, whose game doesn't resemble anything like a traditional guard's. Pope (6-8, 236 lbs.) is averaging a double-double at 11 points and 11 rebounds. The sophomore has cooled a bit in shooting percentage in league play, but is still making 46 percent overall. A thick, powerful player, Pope doesn't handle the ball well but is very good operating on the inside. He has a variety of spin moves and drop steps and will attack the rim often. He doesn't shoot a ton of outside shots, but at 41 percent has been impressive from outside the arc this year. The knock on him coming out of his prep career in Pittsburgh was a tendency towards laziness and possessions off, but that seems to have been remedied. He plays about 31 minutes per game, and is showing some of his best play on defense. With 45 blocks, Pope is one of the premier shot blockers in the Big East despite lacking significant length. This is a battle of his physicality and imposing strength against the multiple numbers and length of West Virginia.
The other two starting guards, Jordan Theodore (6-0, 174 lbs.) and Keon Lawrence (6-2, 177 lbs.), man the point and shooting slots, respectively. Theodore scores eight points, and his three assist and 35 steals show a decent all-around game. He is a tweener for a point player, not truly a distributor or a scorer. He can get into the lane and challenge the rim decently, but is just as content to kick the ball out on open looks. He has started eight times this year, and recently moved back into the starting lineup. The sophomore's game is still developing, as is his decision making. He takes too many shots at times – the third most on the team – and will take threes when they are not often falling. Lawrence five points, three rebounds per game, is struggling shooting. He has missed 76 of 106 shots this year, and 12 of 14 threes. Those numbers, and the productivity Gonzales needs from the spot, simply have not been enough but the coaching staff has stuck with the junior. This is a spot that has hurt Seton Hall more than helped this season, and with WVU guarding as well as it has, Lawrence could struggle. The fifth starter, and lone listed forward, is Jeff Robinson (6-6, 230 lbs.). The junior averages 10 points and five rebounds, and has become the most consistent shooter for SHU at 53.5 percent. His game is totally on the interior, though for his ability inside, he has not gotten to the line as much as one would expect. He's a good rebounder at both ends, and his ability to get putback and "hustle" points needs to be limited.
|Sat. Feb. 20
WVU 20-5, 9-4
SHU 15-9, 6-7
|Sirius Channel 122|
WVU – 5
SHU – 51
The Hall has some decent numbers for interior depth. Forward Robert Mitchell (6-6, 180 lbs.) has start half the games this season and is playing about 22 minutes per game. The junior averages 10 points and four rebounds and is among the most active reserves. He converts from the line well, can shoot from anywhere inside the arc and slashes to the rim well. His 43 percent from the floor is decent, but he has made just 30 percent from three. He doesn't turn the ball over, however, and has become a steadying influence with some on-court leadership. The biggest body off the bench is freshman Ferrakohn Hall (6-8, 280 lbs.). Hall's three points and less than one board per game don't indicate the impact or potential for the newcomer. His size helps negate opposing scoring on the defensive end, and his 11 minutes per outing help steal some decent rest time for a team whose forwards get worn down by facing bigger players game in and out. This is a player with a good upside who should improve significantly over the next year. Senior John Garcia (6-9, 270 lbs.) was recently moved to the bench after starting 15 times this year. He doesn't score much, and his lack of production eventually had him moving to the bench. Seton Hall plays so small at times that it had difficult slowing opposing teams, so Gonzales chose to try to stay with them scoring instead, and Garcia was among the casualties. Jamel Jackson (6-3, 202 lbs.) is the lone reserve seeing decent time as a guard. Jackson plays about 13 minutes and is hitting for six points. He doesn't pass well, and his game is mainly from the perimeter, as evidenced by taking 91 of 109 shots from there. He must be guarded from three-point range, but defenders don't have to worry as much about him driving past or getting into the lane and dumping the ball off or dishing out.
Other than Hazell, who ripped WVU for 41 points in the first meeting, the Mountaineers held the line-up far below its average point production and managed edges in rebounding, assists and shooting. The issue was allowing too many offensive rebounds and not finishing the game when well ahead entering the final minute. If West Virginia can bang the boards, shoot effectively and get to the line, it should be able to handle any challenges from SHU. It didn't fold when forced into overtime in the first match-up, instead flourishing in the extra period to easily win the game. This team still has lapses at times, and did allow Providence back in the game after hammering the Friars over the opening half. It doesn't appear that Seton Hall has enough ability to play with WVU on its home floor – as long as the Mountaineers put in a full 40 minute effort mentally and physically. That hasn't happened often this year, and this is yet another game with 30 to 35 solid minutes should result in a win. It doesn't make watching or coaching it any easier, though. Look for Seton Hall to shoot better from the outside (it missed 24 of 30 in the first game) and balance the scoring. The Mountaineers can answer by getting bodies on the Hall during its offensive rebounding chances and continuing to challenge around the rim and not settling for threes.
SHU: G Eugene Harvey (Wrist), Probable; G Jeremy Hazell (Finger), Doubtful.
West Virginia has won 33 of its 40 games at the Coliseum under Huggins. It has won 31 of its last 40 home Big East games and 42 of 46 against unranked teams.
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Seton Hall and West Virginia have played all but one of their series games since WVU joined the Big East in 1995. The Mountaineers have won the last five series games, including four in a row in Morgantown. The Pirates, however, have won three straight Big East games. SHU is 3-5 in road games this year.
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Seton Hall last won in Morgantown on March 1, 2003. Gonzales is 0-5 against WVU and 0-3 versus Huggins. Huggins is 3-0 against Seton Hall.
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In the latest NCAA stats, WVU ranks 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 12th in rebounding, 16th in assists per game and 35th in fewest turnovers per contest.