Monday, November 15, 2010

Seton Hall Post Game -- Kevin Willard's Home Opener

by Ray Floriani
NEWARK , NJ -- Pre-game shoot around. Cornell defeated Albany 65-61 on Friday. The game was a 59 possession affair with Cornell holding a 110-102 edge in offensive efficiency.

The Rock on a beautiful Indian Summer day

Seton Hall’s loss to Temple (62-56), also on Friday, saw the Pirates in a 72 possession contest. Defense was the key, as Temple enjoyed an 86-78 edge over the Hall in offensive efficiency. Another stat that stands out is the Seton Hall defense that forced the Owls into a 25% turnover rate. Could just hear Temple coach Fran Dunphy address that one in team meetings.

One game does not a season nor a tendency make. But going into the noon matchup at the Prudential Center on Sunday, it was certain pace and defense would be keys. Could Kevin Willard’s club impose its will and force Cornell into a faster tempo? Also, could the Big Red handle Seton Hall’s defensive pressure and not become unglued.

On both counts the Big Red came up on the short end en route to a 92-68 pasting by the Hall.

The possession count saw Cornell at 79 and Seton Hall 78. By the half the possession totals were about 40 each. Comfortable for the Pirates to handle, not what Cornell wanted however.

The offensive efficiency was also significantly different (see green highlight below).

OpponentSeton Hall vs Cornell
Seton HallCornell

The Four Factors are highlighted in yellow above.

Cornell coach Bill Courtney was concerned about offensive rebounding and turnovers. The Turnover rate (TOrate in table above) by totals is the same (15) but by the half (a 50-35 Hall lead) the figures for that metric were 12.4 and 22.3 (highlighted in acqua green above).

Another significant note at intermission was how the Hall easily handled the Ivy visitors on the offensive glass. The final total is significant enough but the first 20 minutes with a 52-19% edge in offensive rebounding percentage.

Impressed with the game of Jeremy Hazell. If you can produce a ‘quiet’ (game high) 28 points, the Hall senior did so. He shot 8 of 11 from the floor, 8 of 8 from the line and added two assists. Every shot was in the continuity of the offense and at times he passed up on good looks to set up a teammate with a closer opportunity.

Liked the three out two in and four out one in sets of Kevin Willard. Offensively it gave the players freedom while featuring good ball and player movement. Defensively the Pirates pressed the entire first half but were more half court defensively the final twenty minutes.

Cornell was paced by 6-9 senior Aaron Osgood with 19 points. He used his body well to get to the line but had one of the strangest stat lines. Osgood was 5 of 7 (71%) from the field an 8 of 16 (50%) from the line.

Cornell will not see teams as big and deep as Seton Hall on a nightly basis. Still, the Big Red need a consistent complimentary scorer to help Osgood as well as better board work. Cornell hoisted 24 three point attempts, hitting only 5 (21%). That’s something that might happen in Ivy play if Osgood does not get a teammate to share the scoring load with him.

Using the 'Manley' Efficiency to compare the leading scorers gives us the following...

PtsMinsRatingper Min
Hazell, SHU2828270.964
Osgood, Cor1926130.500

Hazell’s efficiency (adding FGM, FTM, REBS, Assists, Blocks, steals and points while subtracting missed shots) is virtually off the charts on a per minute basis. He just missed cracking that 1.000 figure which is outstanding. That’s the type game he had.

Both teams are now 1-1 on the young campaign.

Cornell coach Bill Courtney on playing without injured point guard Chris Wroblewski: “Without him we are a point guard by committee. He’s got experience and really without him out there we are like the Peanuts character Linus without a blanket.”

Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard on getting the first win. “It’s nice getting that first win now. At my last school (Iona) it took seven tries before getting that first one.”

Coach Kevin Willard greets the media

Chalk another for your VBTN contributor. Yours truly won the ring. Pre-game rounds I made the walk around the Rock and came across a Pirate trivia booth. Question one: "What is Kevin Willard’s alma mater?"

“Easy, “ I replied, “Pitt.” Very good replied the gentleman with the Pirate blue ‘test’ sheet. Thought question two, the final one, would get tougher but it was a virtually given. “What is Shaheen Holloway’s alma mater?”

"Simple, Seton Hall" (could have added that I knew his high school alma mater) was St. Pat’s (NJ). The Prize was a special one a replica of the 1989 (a team I covered a number of times) NCAA runner up championship ring.

Ray poses with
Seton Hall cheerleaders Stephanie (L) and Reyna (R)
as he displays the '89 runner up ring

A few (more) thoughts...
The change was obvious from the pre-game warmups. Under the direction of a staff member, the entire squad assembled near the press section and performed their stretching routine together, as a single unit. Ray noted the 4-out 1-in and 3-out 2-in motion sets Coach Willard has installed in the offense. The appearance of an organized offense is only the most obvious benefit.
1. If Hazell's performance is a good measure, the other, more subtle benefit, lies in sharing the possessions and shots. A look at individual possessions and shots...

Jeremy Hazell24.824.290.91.89
Herb Pope32.
Jeff Robinson22.722.475.01.62
Jordan Theodore32.314.040.01.27

The Pirates' fortunes rise and fall with these four. Hazell, Pope and Robinson are the first three offensive options (Theodore will usually have a higher possession than shot rate given his tendency to pass-first at the point). The relatively even distribution of possessions and shots is important, and given that Hazell did not dominate either stat suggests he is, as Ray asserts, playing within an offensive scheme, rather than free lancing. The offensive sets encourage the other squad members to engage in the offense, rather than watch Hazell and "wait their turn".
2. Ray pointed out that while the Hall did not win their game at Temple, they did post a defensive efficiency of 0.862 (or 86.2/100 possessions), while in the Cornell game that efficiency was 0.866 (86.6/100 possessions). The Hall's problem last season was defense. Keeping opponents under 0.9 is a great start (even when you lose, which with the Pirates' offense, won't happen often).
3. Seton Hall also rearranged the Rock, putting the press behind the basket at the visitor's end of the arena. The students (previously seated in the current press area) has been moved behind the visitors bench. The "Press Row" seating now accommodates honored/special guests. The students were engaged throughout the game, standing, chanting and cheering the Pirates on. I am sure that was something of a distraction to the visitors.
4. The football passes, Pope-to-Hazell on consecutive possessions brought the entire Rock to it's feet (press row and the Cornell bench excepted) with approval. Pope and Hazell executed perfectly, giving the Cornell defense no chance of stopping them.
-- greyCat

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