I didn't ask Jason about Rally's. Instead, we talk about the 3 game win steak, Jordan Theodore, Herb Pope, Fuquan Edwin, the Big East and more. As always, I thank Jason for taking the time to answer my questions. He got them back quickly, which is appreciated. If you live in New Jersey and get station 89.5 WSOU, he'll be calling the game there. I forgot to ask him about his announcing work. I'm dumb. Anyway, thanks to Jason. Here is his twitter and the site. Follow and visit. I answered some questions for them that will be going up this weekend. Check it.
Jason is in the background. Questions in bold.
Seton Hall has won 3 in a row after losing 6 in a row. How have their fortunes turned?
JPG: Two things- One, they played Rutgers. The intensity of the rivalry ramped up a struggling team, especially the veterans who know the rivalry, and the win provided a big confidence boost. They followed that up with a feel-good comeback win over Pitt, and they showed no signs of the losing streak lingering on their minds Tuesday in blowing out St. John’s. But the Rutgers W got the ball rolling, and gave the team a sorely-needed shot of confidence in themselves.
Second, stemming from the first point, they FINALLY made shots. The team shot 33% during the losing streak and are shooting it at up near 50% in the 3 wins since. Their 3-point percentage shows similar splits. Heck, they’re even making free throws lately. There really is no substitute for made shots.
Mick Cronin said 89 times in his press conference that Seton Hall is holding teams to 39% shooting. How have they done it?
Seton Hall’s defense is very, very good. It’s a matchup zone that switches from man to zone on command, oftentimes within the same possession. It has frustrated young teams and veteran teams alike, and they look for steals when they can get them.
Herb Pope, Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin dominate the ball for the Pirates. Individually, what do they bring to the table offensively?
Pope is a skilled big man who can step out and hit a jumper, although that’s not his strength. The Pirates like to get it to him on the baseline or the elbows, where he can face up and take his man off the dribble with a decent touch around the hoop. He’s a beast on the boards, including the offensive boards, and he always has been.
Jordan Theodore (this season) has transitioned nicely to the role of a pure point guard, looking to get (and keep) everyone involved in the offense. He’s the guy that makes the Seton Hall offense click. Individually, he can take his man off the dribble, or pull up off the dribble for a midrange jumper. He isn’t a terrific shooter, but can hit the three point shot when given space.
Fuquan Edwin is a slasher and a finisher. He’s at his best in transition, or getting the ball off of a cut near the rim and finishing that way. He’s not a guy you can isolate on the wing because of his lack of ballhandling skill at this point in his career, but he’s a great athlete and can knock down the three with an effective, although unorthodox stroke.
Edwin is the best in the nation at getting steals. What's his secret?
Edwin is a terror off the ball. I nicknamed him the Ninja a while ago because of his ability to sneak up on unsuspecting defenders and knock the ball away (and also because he’s never the main offensive threat, but sometimes has “quiet” big offensive games). His quickness, long arms and fast hands help him get many deflections, and if you don’t watch where you’re dribbling, you can bet Fu will be all over it. He’s no slouch man-on-man, either.
Seton Hall doesn't get to the free throw line much or make free throws. How frustrating is that?
It’s pretty frustrating from time to time. Outside of Theodore, the team is pretty inconsistent from the stripe. In the Louisville game, missed freebies cost them, but other than that, it really hasn’t hurt them big this year, probably because of the lack of big numbers in the attempt department.
The Pirates play good perimeter defense. What's their key?
That matchup zone was implemented by Kevin Willard, who was a Rick Pitino disciple. Both teams tend to defend the three really well, and in Seton Hall’s case, they rotate well on the perimeter to defend the three, and keep their focus on defense well. It will really be crucial Saturday night against the only team that takes and makes more threes than they do in the Big East.
What do you see as the toughest matchup?
Without a doubt, it’s Pope vs Yancy Gates. Pope’s a great player, but Gates has him out-sized, and Pope tends to struggle against those guys. Even if they don’t defend each other much, Gates’ bulk will cut down on the opportunities to be mobile for Pope.
How do you feel about the Pirates chances as we close out the regular season?
They’re squarely in the mix for the Big Dance right now, and the general consensus is that if they win three of their remaining 4 games (@ UC, vs Georgetown, vs Rutgers, @DePaul) including Rutgers and DePaul, they’ll be in. They’re playing well right now, and we’ll see if they can keep it rolling. They haven’t played extraordinarily well on the road this year, save for the Dayton game. Perhaps it’s an Ohio thing…
Finally, thoughts about the game tomorrow?
With both teams being good defensive teams, I anticipate a close, low-scoring game in the low 60s. It’s a big game for both teams in terms of seeding for the Big East Tournament as well as for both teams’ at-large hopes. Both teams have Seniors to help lead them, both have underclassmen who can help the cause greatly. The telling stat will be the three point line- whoever does a better job defending that line will likely have the upper hand.
A thousand thanks to Jason for answering and answering like a pro. He killed it. He is a fun person to talk to on twitter. You should tweet him and tell him that he's nice. He'll probably let you split that milkshake. Be sure to check out South Orange Juice. Thanks again to Jason.