Anyone who turned on the TV at 9:30 last night in preparation for the Hokies game vs #1 Michigan State was treated to one of the more inventive collapses in recent memory. The Seton Hall Pirates, up six on Oklahoma with 42 seconds to play managed to find a way to come from ahead to lose by 1 to the Sooners, 86-85. They couldn't get a single bounce, and even as a disinterested party, you had to feel a little bit of pity for them.
Despite 26 points from Sterling Gibbs (17-20 FT), and Brian Oliver connecting on 5-of -13 3-point shots for 19 points of his own, the Pirates couldn't stave off a more balanced Sooner attack that saw five players in double figures. The massive Gene Teague almost notched a double-double from the center position with 10 points and 9 rebounds. The Pirates sought contact last night and as a result built their unstable lead on the strength of converting 30-of-35 FTs. The Hokies will have to be careful to avoid hand-checking Gibbs who is quick and attacks the paint. The Pirates had six of their shots blocked, with a few them in the melee that marked the final minute.
Before last night's loss Seton Hall was 4-1, with a bad road loss to Mercer (GA). They have no wins of consequence, and are easing into their season after finishing the last season of the former Big East 15-18 (3-15). The Big East takes on a different composition this year with Georgetown, Providence, St Johns, Marquette, Villanova, Depaul remaining alongside them, and Creighton, Butler, and Xavier joining ranks. It remains to be seen whether or not this will help them regain some of their former status. Because of their conference realignment there are no common opponents on their schedule that will impact our RPI directly. Although adding former Big East members Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Louisville will certainly have an impact on the ACC going forward.
They are coached by Kevin Willard, who hasn't seen the same success that former coach Bobby Gonzalez experienced before his acrimonious exit. Gonzalez had some player incidents including an incident of armed robbery, which combined with his nasty behavior on the sideline and in the basketball offices led to his ouster. He was subsequently arrested for stealing and defacing a $1400 Ralph Lauren bag from a Polo store just four months after. So Willard has been fighting an uphill public relations battle since taking the job and dealing with the transition as best he can.
Seton Hall has been bolstered by some transfers. Three of their starters began their careers at other schools: redshirt-senior shooting guard Brian Oliver, who we remember from his first couple years at Georgia Tech; redshirt-senior center Gene Teague who came from Southern Illinois, and redshirt-sophomore Sterling Gibbs who arrived from Texas. All three are in the top-six in minutes played. The Pirates have eight players that average 15+ minutes, though after their top four there isn't a great deal of production.
Here are the players and the pertinent numbers:
- Redshirt-sophomore point guard Sterling Gibbs (6'2", 185) 18.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.5 apg
- Senior small forward Fuquan Edwin (6'6", 215) 14.6 ppg, team high 13 steals
- Redshirt-junior power forward Patrick Auda (6'9", 235) 12 ppg, 5.6 rpg
- Redshirt-senior guard Brian Oliver (6'7", 225) 7.2ppg, 10-26 3-point
- Redshirt-senior center Gene Teague (6'9", 270) 6.4ppg, 6.4 rpg
- Junior forward Brandon Mobley (6'9", 215) 8 ppg, 4.6 rpg
- Combo-guard Jaren Sina (6'2", 180) 4.8 ppg, 3-13 3-point
As you can see they have some height across the board. However, they are only an average rebounding team, and are content like so many teams to jack three point shots. They don't share the ball that well, with just 66 assists through 6 games. They play some fairly sloppy ball, with 77 turnovers, and they have forced 74 of their own. They have shot 40 more FTs than their opponents, and have been fortunate to have their opponents convert just 66% of them. The Pirates allow 31.6% shooting from three, but haven't faced as good a shooting team as the Hokies have been. Last night though, this didn't matter for VT against Michigan State, as they maintained their stellar accuracy and still fell way short. The Hokies will need to work on converting their opportunities in closer to the goal.
Now because I have spoiled you into expecting historical background on the enemy, here you are:
Seton Hall is a Catholic institution located in South Orange, NJ. It was founded in 1855, and has nearly 10,000 students with an even split between Graduate students and Undergraduates. South Orange is near Newark and therefore close to New York City. It is likely that the Pirates were able to sleep in their own beds last night.
ALUMNI I PERSONALLY CONSIDER TO BE THE OPPOSING SCHOOLS' MOST INTERESTING!!!
- Dick Vitale (Dookie V) / Bill Raftery: Two of the "premier' voices in college basketball. Both have been around far too long. I grew up enjoying and learning from them in the 80s as ESPN became the dominant platform for college basketball. Barely tolerated them in the 90s as ESPN saturated the market. And now openly detest them and mute the games they cover. I'm only surprised that Chris Berman didn't graduate from Seton Hall. That would make it the trifecta and then we could just place yellow police tape around the place, board it up, and condemn it. Something obviously being wrong with the drinking water.
- Bob Ley, ESPN: The yin to the other two's yang. Bob Ley is a national treasure. The only ESPN originator who hasn't opted to stuff himself down our throats. A rational voice in an ever irrational environment. He must be sick to his stomach watching ESPN talking heads scream at each other. His shows and investigative reporting are one of the last modicums of sanity the World-Wide leader possesses. With the exception of the excellent 30 for 30 series, his Outside the Lines work is the only constant effort at ESPN i would deem commendable.
- Max Weinberg, Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band: Jewish kid went to a Catholic school. I have no opinion on that, just imagine that's a rarity. Also known for being the leader of Conan O Brien's house band, Max Weinberg 7. Always smiling. I mean always.
- Lou Duva, Boxing Trainer: Has trained 21 champions, Evander Holyfied, Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker (who is uncle to Ronyell $%&$& Whitaker), Lennox Lewis, etc.
- Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco International: Stole $80MM from his company. In prison for 8 to 25 years. Once spent $15K on an umbrella stand, and paid $6K apiece for shower curtains.This from Wiki: He threw a $2MM birthday party for his wife's 40th birthday on the island of Sardinia that featured an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David that urinated Stoli Vodka, and a private concert from Jimmy Buffett. The party was later dubbed "The Tyco Roman Orgy". How a Pirate Looks at 40 indeed!
- Tony Soprano, Fictional Character: This character developing fact that he mentioned to his daughter, the lovely Meadow, that he had spent a year and a half at Seton Hall; on the drive to visit schools where he subsequently murdered a former snitch he happened to run across. RIP Gandolfini.
The Hokies are 2-4 lifetime against the Pirates with three of the match ups coming when VT was in the Big East. The most recent game is memorable to me because it is the singular time that former highly-regarded recruit Dorenzo Hudson lived up to his billing. In a 103-94 OT victory in Cancun, MX , he filled in for an injured Malcolm Delaney and put up 41 points including 20-for-21 from the FT line. Unfortunately, Hudson was always too spastic and never could seem to avoid putting too much on his jumpers. He could leap out of the gym but miss the bunny, and then every time he seemed like he could put it together, he'd get injured again.
The Pirates have a fairly non-descript basketball history. They have sent a good number of players to the NBA but the most successful one has been former Haitian refugee Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert is a defensive presence in the league who gets by with little to no offensive skill; yet he has commanded the mid-level exception from two different teams. He is constantly in demand and rumored to be part of trades every year because the teams he is on usually stink. Their other chief export was Terry Dehere, who was a silky smooth shooting guard who could bury it from the college 3-point line, but struggled at the NBA arc, which was quite similar to the career trajectory of another early 90s college star, Chris Jackson of LSU (Mahmoud Abdul Rauf). Dehere lasted just five years in the league toiling in Sacramento behind Mitch Richmond. The last we saw of him was making a pathetic attempt to light a fire under his career with the North Charleston Low Gators on the ESPN D-League program. The longest tenured Seton Hall NBA player was Mark Bryant, who plied his trade off the bench for 14 years in Cleveland and Portland, averaging 4.8 ppg. for his career.
Seton Hall has made nine NCAA Tournaments, none more recently than 2006 under former New York Knick standout Louis Orr. Orr played alongside Patrick Ewing in the days before Pat Riley and was an above average shooting small forward. He led the Pirates to two tournaments, and Tommy Amaker of Duke fame (now coach at Harvard) led them to another in 2000, behind star-crossed and now deceased small forward Eddie Griffin. That is all they have to show for the last 20 years as Big East expansion caused them some hardship.
You have to look back to the Halcyon days of the late 1980s when P.J. Carlesimo took over the team and promptly threw a jolt into the conference's transitioning power structure. John Thompson was in decline, Lou Carnessecca was retiring, and Rollie Massimino had moved on after Villanova's scandal. Jim Calhoun of UConn and Carlesimo were the new kids on the block, and Carlesimo took advantage of the status the Big East and the NYC recruiting base could afford him. He put together six-consecutive NCAA teams from 1988-1994, with only Dehere as a true standout. He made three Sweet 16s, won two Big East Championsips and two Big East Regular Season Titles.
He came THIS close to winning the National Title in 1989, knocking off a pre-Larry Johnson UNLV team in the Regional Final, then Danny Ferry's pasty Duke team in the Final Four, only to lose to Michigan by one point on two Rumeal Robinson FTs in OT. That team was led by 24 year old Australian sharpshooter Andrew Gaze, automatic John Morton (who went for 35 in the final game to offset Glen RIce and his 31), and steady Gerald Greene on the ball. It remains one of the most exciting games I've ever seen, and I am personally indebted to that Seton Hall club for knocking off much hated Duke.
That concludes the background portion. Tonight's game tips off at 7 p.m., once again on TruTV, and I will return after the game with post-game analysis and player grades, and then hopefully I can get a day or two off! Nevertheless, it has been fun putting this together for you.
In my opinion the Hokies have the better team, and need to get back to what was working before the Michigan State game. I think we have the superior athletes, we just need to be careful with their point guard Gibbs.
Please join us tonight for a live game thread, and since there is no football it is YOUR JOB as a Hokie :) . I will once again be present on Twitter @GobblerCountry. We appreciate you sticking with us as we make this YOUR place to go for all your Hokie college basketball coverage.
Mi Cassell es su Cassell. My sincerest wishes for you and yours to have a great Saturday afternoon.