Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the MAAC correspondent for RTC. He also travels all around the Northeast and occasionally files a game report when he can extricate himself from the clutches of the cheerleaders.
Entering Sunday’s game at Seton Hall, new Big Red coach Bill Courtney, stressed two main priorities: avoid turnovers and keep The Hall away from the offensive glass. By halftime, the visiting Big Red trailed 50-35 and a big reason was the inability to execute what Courtney stressed. The Pirates went on to post a convincing 92-68 win at the Prudential Center. Cornell committed nine turnovers in 41 possessions, a 22% turnover rate (20% or more is generally unacceptable). On the offensive glass, the Hall owned a 17-12 edge. More telling was the offensive rebounding percentage where Seton Hall enjoyed a monstrous 52%-19% gap.
“Outside of those two factors, the thing that bothered me was that we were passive,” Courtney said. “We opened at Albany on Friday (a 65-61 Cornell win) and as a young team we were very excited. Today we came into a Big East arena and were passive. We prepared but did not attack.”
On the flip side, another face in a new place, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, had concerns of his own. Seton Hall dropped a tough 62-56 decision at Temple on Friday. A day later. they watched about 90 minutes of film as a team. “We looked at what we didn’t do on the offensive end on Friday,” Willard said. “Justin Theodore especially paid a great deal of attention studying that tape. Today he came out and gave us what we are looking for.” Theodore did commit five turnovers but had a strong game overall: ten points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 22 minutes. Another significant performer for the Hall was Jeremy Hazell. The senior guard led all scorers with a ‘quiet’ 28 points. Quiet from the standpoint that Hazell took shots (8 of 11 from the field) in the framework of the offense, didn’t force the issue and passed up opportunities to feed teammates with a better look.
“He (Hazell) has taken better quality shots,” Willard said. “He’s played terrific for us both games and really has been terrific all pre-season as well.” Jeff Robinson (16 points 10 boards) and Herb Pope (13 points 6 rebounds) also turned in solid games for Seton Hall.
Aaron Osgood led Cornell with 19 points. The 6’9 senior had 17 at the half and really used his size and positioning well to get to the line. But in one of the stranger stat lines, he was much more proficient from the floor than the charity stripe. Osgood shot 5 of 7 from the field while going 8 of 16 from the line. With no one able to consistently help Osgood, the Big Red relied on a perimeter game. Not good news with a 5 of 24 (21%) showing beyond the arc. Both teams are now 1-1. The final tempo-free ratings – Cornell had 79 possessions and finished with an offensive efficiency rating of 86 while Seton Hall posted 78 possessions, finishing with an offensive efficiency rating of 118.
A quick off-court note – former Pirates star Luther Wright, who faced drug addiction and psychiatric disorders after his college career, was on hand to sign copies of his memoir, A Perfect Fit.