Thursday, March 18, 2010

Collaborative Post: Bobby Gonzalez's Last Game

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ - We didn’t realize it at the time. But with the lopsided 87-69 loss to Texas tech in the first round of the NIT , came an end to Bobby Gonzalez’s coaching tenure at Seton Hall.

The factors and numbers from a 70 possession game at the Prudential Center:

Texas Tech12854374413
Seton Hall9739103910

The deciding factor was Texas Tech’s defense. Coach Pat Knight said when his club holds opponents to under 70 points they are tough to beat. A major component of under 70 is illustrated the better than average numbers in deficiency efficiency and (defensive) effective field goal percentage.

The offensive rebounding percentage, in Tech’s favor also displays the hustle and willingness to beat their opponents to loose balls all night. Entering the game the Red Raiders were on the negative side of OREB percentage with Big 12 opponents owning a 38-29 edge.

Arguably the biggest number looking back is 14:19. That was the time remaining in the half when Seton Hall’s Herb Pope punched (twice) Texas Tech’s Darko Cohadarevic in the groin and was ejected. Without Pope, Gonzalez was left without a significant presence to clog the lane and score. Jeff Robinson gave a game leading 23 points 12 boards. John Garcia contributed 7 points 10 rebounds. But Jeremy Hazell, slowed by a bad back, scored 6 points and was 0-4 from three. With Pope gone and no one consistently helping Robinson carry the load, the Hall was doomed and faced double digit deficits virtually all night.

The Pope ejection had further implications as many feel it was the last straw that ultimately sent Gonzalez packing the next day. ESPN2 replayed the incident several times and that is something you do not want a national audience , many who do not know your school that well, to see.

Gonzalez ended his four years in South Orange with a 68-59 overall record. He was 27-43 in Big East play and last night picked up his seventh technical foul on the season. But it was to be his last at Seton Hall.

Tech put five players, led by guard John Roberson with 22 points, in double figures. Raiders improve to 18-15 while the Hall ends up at 19-13.

“I’m happy for my kids. They have been through a lot and had a tough stretch with some close losses. In some ways we are similar to Seton Hall as we both try to stay competitive in a tough conference.” - Texas Tech coach Pat Knight

greyCat's Comments
The game was poorly attended by Seton Hall fans, 4,000 possibly, but no more than 5,000 fans total in the arena. Many were angry students. Like every other collegiate venue, the students heckled and booed the Texas Tech players as they came out for their warmups. But they saved their most vitriolic heckling for Coach Gonzalez when he came out in the minutes before tipoff. The crowd quieted at topoff and the team played with energy, until Pope ws ejected. The life seemed to go out of the Pirate team. Several observers along Press Row commented repeatedly throughout the game at how the Pirates lacked energy and speed. Shots were short or offline. Jeremy Hazell's line, 6 points on 3-10 (0-4, 3-6) and 0-0 shooting, coupled with Pope's ejection, doomed the Pirate cause.

Notes & Observations
1. Seton Hall's second half shot efficiency was within 1.1% of their first half efficiency (39.2 vs 38.1), most likely a good hint of how the team would score without both Hazell and Pope. Jeff Robinson aside, the balance of the squad had tremendous difficulty converting shots to points.
2. The Pirates' problems, shooting aside, was over on the defensive side. The Pirates, hardly a defensive juggernaut this season, had a subpar performance at the worst possible time. If the observers along Press Row saw lack of energy in the lane and tentative jumpers, their defense, specifically getting after defensive rebounds, putting up a hand on Red Raider shooters, shot blocking and steals, were all well below their season numbers.
3. Jeff Robinson is the sliver lining from this game. He, Jordan Theodore, Jamal Jackson, Keon Lawrence and Herb Pope(?...) will be the nucleus around whom Coach Gonzalez's successor will have to rebuild.

Jeff Robinson92.526.055.31.13
Jordan Theodore75.
Jamal Jackson25.040.537.50.75

Jeff Robinson stepped up offensively, with a number of impressive lane drives and finishes around the basket. His 24% defensive rebounding rate (I realize this is too small a sample for generalizations...) was particlarly impressive given Garcia's graduation.

I was doing a live blog for the folks over at Rush the Court and negotiating a number of technical problems connecting to the WIFI at the Rock (Windows 7 and certain WIFI systems "aren't on speaking terms it seems"). I want to give a grateful thanks to the Seton Hall guys who took a shot at it, and the Physical Plant fellow who ran a wire out to Press Row for me. A terrific save credited to you guys. He was kind enough to check with me several times during the game to make sure the connection was (still) good. Thanks very much guys. Sorry it could not have been a better night for the Hall.

NIT Logo
Following Up...
The course of the game and the events immediately following have overrun what, despite the drama, has been the best season for Seton Hall basketball since Louis Orr's tenure. Hopefully the next coach will be able to build on the good things Coach Gonzalez accomplished. Best of Luck to the Red Raiders in their next round game. And best of all possible futures to the Pirates of Seton Hall.

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