Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Runin' Pirates?

Why You Want to Know Jamal Jackson
The Seton Hall Pirates hosted the Keydets of VMI at the Rock in Newark Saturday. The Keydets, out of the Big South Conference, have a reputation for playing an uptempo game, if you recall. This season they have established a raw pace of 86.1, the "fastest" in D1, coming into the game. When I saw a score of 134-107 posted I knew something was up. And sure enough, the box score revealed these two teams had played the game for  101 possessions. A bit higher than even I thought they would go. Most teams will "slow" it down to avoid turnovers and careless shooting. Not the case here, as the Seton Hall squad converted possessions to points at a 1.32 clip. Conversion rates that high for a half are unusual, but for an entire game? Extraordinary. The Pirates held the Keydets to a 1.07 ppp, not great, but when that converts to a point differential of 0.25, no one is going to notice (they will be too distracted by the score). Cannot criticize the Hall for sloppy play either, as they lost only 19.8% of their possessions, not great (not comparable to the Keydets' 16.8% TO Rate, but not bad given the pace of the game).

Everyone who follows Big East basketball knows of Jeremy Hazell, the Hall's one man scoring machine. Most thought (and rightly so) that combined with transfer Herb Pope, the Hall would put a deadly accurate (and prolific) pair of scorers on the floor...a Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside combination. What only those closest to the Pirate squad could have anticipated however, was the explosion of Jamal Jackson, a 6-3, 195 pound JUCO who Coach Gonzalez recruited last season. Jackson went off on a 40 point scoring spree, hitting 14-17 from the field, including an unheard of 12-15 from beyond the arc. You will probably read about that in the Sunday papers, but what you might miss is the 33 points Hazell chipped in (9-16, 6-11/3-5, 9-9) for the cause too. The two scored a combined 73 of the Hall's 134 points (that's 54.5% of the Hall's scoring). Some Hall fans have suggested that Jackson will press Stix Mitchell for his starting job. Mitchell however scored 18 points on a 9-15 afternoon. Sitting a guy who goes 9-15? I doubt it.

Congratulations to Mr. Jackson.

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