Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Rutgers at Seton Hall

by Ray Floriani
NEWARK, NJ - Opportunity lost.
That is the theme looking back on Seton Hall's week. There was a chance for the upset of Georgetown that slipped away. Yesterday, the in-state rival visited the 'Rock' and the Hall could have used a victory to try to get some momentum. It wasn't to be as Rutgers exited the Prudential Center 66-60 victors.

Outside the Rock the streets are busy
prior to game time

The efficiency numbers:

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Hall fans wave their towels

Pace definitely favored Rutgers as Seton Hall was more inclined to get this into a high octane affair. Usually games start fast and gradually settle into the regular pace. The first four minutes of this one however saw the tempo set and dictated. After four minutes the Hall led 5-4 and had 6 possessions (83 OE) to Rutgers 5 (80 OE).

The Four Factors:

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Lights out for Seton Hall introductions

Outside of turnover rate and an even mark in OREB percentage, Seton Hall trailed significantly in the other two factors. A 6 of 27 shooting performance severely affected the eFG mark. Pirates shot 17 of 41 (41%) from two point range which was not exactly lighting it up. Rutgers, on the other hand, showed inside strength going 22 of 43 (51%) from inside the arc.

Seton Hall hit the offensive glass as the Pirates had a 12-10 edge in those 'raw' rebounding numbers. Unfortunately some of the best efforts on put backs were unrewarded as Seton Hall had trouble finishing in the paint. That was one of the reasons Rutgers built a double digit first half lead.

Game action captured from a number of rows off the floor.

Rutgers led 31-23 at the half. The lead hit double digits early second half. Seton Hall trimmed the deficit but never got this to a one possession affair. Outside of a brief Seton Hall lead early in the game, Rutgers was in command.

Dane Miller was listed on the box score as a guard. The 6-7 sophomore swingman for the Scarlet Knights, was a tough matchup for the Pirates. Miller scored a team high 17 points while adding 10 rebounds. He was 7 of 13 (0 for 1 from three) from the field. Miller has the ability to be a factor in half court and transition scenarios. At the other end Miller was no slouch with 3 blocked shots and 8 of those rebounds on the defensive end. About the only area he was deficit was the charity stripe (3 of 7).

A good all around effort was provided by Gilvydas Biruta, Rutgers' freshman forward. The 6-8 Biruta played 22 minutes scoring 12 points and pulling down a game high 11 rebounds (6 on the offensive end).

Herb Pope had a solid 20 point, 16 board, 3 blocked shots effort for the Pirates in 37 minutes. A positive indication that the 68 junior forward is now in full form and game condition.

Hall put four players in double figures but it was a deceptive number performance wise. Pope led all players in scoring and rebounding. Jordan Theodore had 11 point but twice as many turnovers 94) as assists (2). Jeremy Hazell scored 15 points. The Hall senior guard had the opportunities as he attempted 21 shots hitting just 6 (29%). Jeff Robinson checked in with a dozen points and he too had a generous amount of chances, hitting just 5 of 14 (36%).

The star Ledger had a great pre-game piece on the whole idea of the Seton Hall-Rutgers rivalry. The whole premise is the respective coaches Mike Rice of Rutgers and Kevin Willard of Seton Hall can't and shouldn't obsess on sweeping these games. Seeing the big picture in moving up the Big East ladder is more important. While the coaches and players want to win, the reality is it is a game, or two, as part of an 18 game Big East schedule. It has also been noted when the day comes and the two schools are in the conference's upper echelon, then the rivalry will gain fruition.

Regardless, you have the two Garden State Big East members about 30 miles apart. The different institutional backgrounds, the State University of New Jersey and the Catholic University of New Jersey. The fans, though love it. They light up the chat rooms, fuel the pre and post game talk and genuinely exercise those bragging rights should their school, rooting interest or alma mater get that win. While the respective coaches and players eye that 'big picture' and say otherwise, getting a win in this series has to be a little special and significant.

Rutgers is 12-7 (3-4 in the Big East. Seton Hall drops to 8-12 (2-6). Doesn't get easier the Hall's next one is at Syracuse on Tuesday. Rutgers, suddenly on a two game Big east win streak, visits Cincinnati on Wednesday. Former Rutgers assistant Darren Savino, now an aide to Mick Cronin at Cincy, will face his former club. Attendance was 8,929.

No rivalry?
Evelyn (L) and Amanda (R) show proudly display the towel.

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