Four Thoughts: Seton Hall vs. Providence Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on January 9th, 2012

Game recaps are boring. If you want to read them, search your local newspaper or the Associated Press. Four Thoughts is our brand new, not-so creatively titled feature where, in lieu of a game recap, we give you four thoughts about key Big East action. Enjoy!

Theodore and Council live up to the hype they don’t get.

I am not sure where Seton Hall’s Jordan Theodore and Providence’s Vincent Council currently sit on the Q Rating list but Saturday’s match-up between the Pirates and the Friars was a microcosm not only of their individual skills, but also of how their abilities translate to the composition of their respective teams.  Presumably neither player is content with his below-the-radar stature, but rather than grousing they let their play do the talking. No histrionics. No chest thumping. Just solid, focused basketball.

Theodore is a chameleon. He can score or defer depending on the need. Tasked with getting a Pirate team that tends to flirt a bit too much with defeat over the top, Theodore is a winner who plays his best in the clutch. True to form, he assisted on two three-pointers in the first minute of the second half versus Providence to open up a three-point halftime lead to nine and scored 10 of his 14 points in that decisive second stanza.

Meanwhile Council, whose game is best suited to creating, has been forced to take on more of a scorer’s role with a young team that lacks experience, and proven Big East offensive prowess. Council played all 40 minutes against Seton Hall and kept his team in the game throughout with 23 points, and nine assists. The Friars will need Council to develop a killer instinct similar to that of Theodore if they want to get out of the Big East basement.

Theodore Steps It Up In The Clutch (Credit: Stew Milne, US Presswire)

Third wheel helps keep the Pirate’s ship afloat.

In the NBA everyone talks about needing a “big three” to be successful. While that phrase is not as prominent in the college game, it certainly means a lot to have a third scoring option, and 6’6” sophomore wing Fuquan Edwin is aptly filling that role for Seton Hall. Edwin was a highly regarded recruit who had a solid freshman campaign, starting 26 games, averaging 7.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. The nation’s leader in steals this season with 51, he has already made a reputation as a dogged defender as well as solid rebounder (6.4 RPG). In addition to his excellence preventing points, Edwin is in the midst of a breakout year offensively, supporting senior leaders Herb Pope (17.9 PPG) and the afore mentioned Theodore (15.9 PPG) with his 14.1 points per game. Edwin has displayed consistency with his output, hitting double-figures in 13 of Seton Hall’s 16 games this year, highlighted by a career-best 24 points (5-8 3PT) in Saturday’s win over Providence in a game where both Pope and Theodore scored below their averages.

Assuming Seton Hall earns a national ranking, how do they respond?

With wins this past week over #8 Connecticut and on the road against Providence, Seton Hall (14-2, 3-1) should garner their first Top 25 ranking since 2001.  And yes, they still deserve a spot despite UConn’s loss at Rutgers. It will be interesting to see how the Pirates adjust to life as the hunted after having spent so much time as hunters. If head coach Kevin Willard’s comments after the Providence game are any indication, it will be business as usual for his squad. “To me, I don’t really care,” Willard remarked when asked about the possible ranking. “I care about what’s on the left side of the win-loss column.” Herb Pope echoed his coach’s thoughts, “Everybody else looks at that.  It means something for those, guys, our fans. But for us? The next goal is to get to 15-2. That’s all we’re worried about right now.”

The next three games for the Pirates look very winnable on paper. They host DePaul on Tuesday and travel to South Florida on Friday followed by a road date with Villanova on January 18. While this stretch represents a huge opportunity to solidify their national ranking, it also plays to the psychology of the situation as the next week-and-a-half is littered with letdown possibilities.

Stay the course Friartown.

Providence is now 0-4 in Big East play, but Friar fans need to resist the urge to chalk this up as a lost year and focus solely on the big time recruiting class coming on board for next season. This season will is a continued work in progress.  While the almighty win is what all fans crave, it is not the best barometer by which to measure this team. The Friars will have to learn HOW to win first.

The Friars were picked to finish 15th in the Big East for a reason. They have no seniors and no depth, playing with just nine scholarship players. Last year they won just four Big East games and that was with departed All-American Marshon Brooks, who set a Big East single-season scoring record last year with 468 points in league action. First-year head coach Ed Cooley summed it up astutely after his team’s loss to Seton Hall. “Right now we’ve got puppies and we’re playing against dogs.”

Further, Cooley inherited a program in disarray and has spent a lot of time rebuilding the program, teaching his players not only about how to conduct themselves on the court but also about how to be men off of it. By that measure, the season has been a successful one so far. It takes time and discipline for puppies to mature.

Patrick Prendergast (74 Posts)

Twitter: @FriarFrenzy

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