January 04, 2012
Consider these two profiles for a second.
• Team A is 12-2 and No. 33 in the RPI. It lost to the only two current Top 25 teams it faced and its best wins have come against struggling Memphis, woeful UCLA and a Minnesota team missing its best player.
• Team B is 13-2 and No. 4 in the RPI. One of its two losses came at the nation's top-ranked team and it boasts wins over CAA favorite VCU, Atlantic 10 contenders St. Joseph's and Dayton and Big East powers West Virginia and Connecticut.
Yes, it's time for Seton Hall to stop flying under the radar, especially after the memorable effort the Pirates gave Tuesday night. They built a 21-point second-half lead and throttled defending national champion UConn 75-63, a victory that shows they're worthy of a spot in the Top 25 and they're legitimate NCAA tournament contenders.
Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore led four Pirates in double figures with 19 points and added 11 assists, while Herb Pope had 15 points and eight boards. Jeremy Lamb scored 19 points of his own for UConn, but Seton Hall kept the rest of the Huskies in check, limiting the team to 35 percent shooting and forcing 14 turnovers.
It's easy to see why little was expected of Seton Hall this year considering how the Pirates struggled in coach Kevin Willard's debut season. They faltered when leading scorer Jeremy Hazell got hurt and then became too dependent on his outside shooting when he returned, resulting in an 18-loss season and a first-round exit in the Big East tournament.
The steady play of Theodore, the all-conference level performance of a now healthy Pope and the emergence of former role players Fuquan Edwin and Patrik Auda have contributed to Seton Hall's improvement this season. The Pirates really have a chance to pile up some Big East victories now with Providence, DePaul, South Florida, Villanova and Notre Dame up next before the schedule stiffens considerably again beginning with a Jan. 28 matchup with Louisville.
Prior to Tuesday night's game, UConn freshman Andre Drummond made headlines when he admitted he'd never heard of Pope or seen Seton Hall play. Drummond didn't mean any harm by his comment, but it reflected of the lack of attention the Pirates had received up to that point.
Seton Hall was under the radar entering Tuesday's game. Now the Pirates should be a known commodity everywhere they go.