In anticipation for this Wednesday's basketball game against rival Seton Hall (see the pregame post on Johnny Jungle, and check back here for pregame media and notes) - the kind of game that sparks strange player scuffles before the game, great posters, whining images of Bobby Gonzalez, and overemphatic yelling - we will do 2 sets of 5 questions.
The first one is with Setonia - a blog I thoroughly enjoy for their humorous slant on all things Seton Hall.
1 - At 5-7 in conference, what's the feeling about Seton Hall now - is this what the staff expected? What the fans expected? How has the team disappointed you? How have they exceeded expectations?
We've been very inconsistent thus far. I would say overall the team has fallen short of expectations, given the incredible infusion of talent. At 5-7, we're still very much in the mix, but our loss at USF really hurt. Most disappointingly, it seems we've given up a couple times this year. Will be critical we get back that killer instinct and never stop competing. We played well against Depaul, but relaxed late in the game.
2 - I notice the team gets a lot of steals but not a lot of non-steal turnovers - the traps and forcing teams to toss the ball out of bounds that other teams sometimes work on. In fact, the team's allowing opponents to shoot quite efficiently from the floor, especially in Big East play (1.12 points per possession). What are the big problems on D? Do they happen every game, or only against better teams? What does a good defensive game from the Pirates look like, and who is the ace defender?
The more turnovers and general chaos we can create, the better. In the halfcourt, we too often lose focus and opposing shooters get wide open looks. We do, however, have a number of players with incredible defensive ability. Keon Lawrence, Jordan Theodore and Jeff Robinson all come to mind. The biggest thing for us is winning the backcourt battle... once that entry pass gets through, we're in trouble.
3 - Give me a rundown on the roster - starting lineup, key bench players.
That's a massive undertaking... Here's one player to look for: Ferrokahn Hall. He's just a freshman, but he received good minutes against Depaul. Could be a game where he never sees the floor, or he might just give the Hall a big boost against SJU. Very, very athletic forward, but a lot depends on the foul situation of Robinson and [Herb] Pope.
4 - How have all the new players integrated into the Seton Hall system? Of all the players, new and old, who has fit in seamlessly? Who has found a hard time with their role?
Some better than others. The story going into this season was our three transfers. Keon Lawrence, despite his defensive contributions, has not offered much. On the other hand, Jeff Robinson has provided a huge lift, much more so than anticipated. I would say Herb Pope is delivering quality minutes as expected.
Gonzalez continues to tinker with the lineup, although it seems like we're starting to settle in with our rotation. Hopefully this will lead to more consistent play.
5 - Bobby Gonzalez: is he on the hot seat? Is he making the Pirate program better? It seems like there are people in the seats at the Prudential Center (which is smaller than I thought). Is there excitement around the team? Are the Pirates making improvements in recruiting?
There's a lot to like about Gonzalez. He's fiery, he's full of passion. He wants to win. He speaks his mind. At the same time, raw emotion only gets you so far. Many fans have been frustrated by the team not always playing up to potential. In particular, our play late in games has been shaky. Some responsibility lies with the coach. But no, I'm not expecting a coaching change anytime soon. The Hall has made progress every year, even though it's not at the rate most would like.
BONUS QUESTION: When is a NYC area team going to make the NCAA Tournament next, and who will it be?
The Hall, obviously! It starts with a win in Queens...