Seton Hall avoided a potential letdown game on Tuesday night in Newark against the Bulls of South Florida, jumping out to an early lead and never trailing in a 66-49 beatdown.
Five thoughts to stash under your holiday tree:
1. Fast Start
Kevin Willard commented after the game that he was very pleased with how his team started the game on the defensive end and he had a good reason to be smiling about it. The Pirates, coming off that big win over Wichita State on Saturday, leaped out to a 14-0 lead as USF was forced into contested shot after contested shot. Seton Hall also took care of business on the other end, making their former Big East opponents look completely overmatched from the jump. A solid end to what ends up being a 10-2 non-conference slate.
Under a new regime led by Orlando Antigua, what was readily apparent is that the Bulls have some work to do. This was not exactly Villanova the Pirates were up against, and while USF has some pieces (point guard Jahmal McMurray showed off some skill throughout the game and graduate transfer Angel Nunez played well), the Bulls have a LONG way to go, even in the American. The job in Tampa is one of the toughest in the nation for my money- perhaps the Antiguas (former Seton Hall assistant Oliver left to join his brother a while back) can make the program competitive in the future.
3. Whitehead Willing To Share
While the game itself was not the prettiest (SHU-USF games rarely are- remember the 2013 Big East Tournament, AKA "The Ugliest Game Ever Played?"), the Pirates did put on a quality display of team basketball, netting 21 assists on 26 made baskets against just eight turnovers. Isaiah Whitehead scored only six points, but his playmaking prowess was on full display as the All-American ended up with a career-best 10 helpers.
4. V33R Singh
A number of those Whitehead assists were to frosh wing Veer Singh, who finished with 12 points on four three-pointers. Since injuring his wrist before the season, the sharpshooter hadn't truly found his stroke until the last couple games. He hit a huge late triple against the Shockers and it appears the player Seton Hall fans heard so much about (in a good way) in the preseason may be rising to the surface after all.
5. Obscure Big East
Throughout the first half, the great Jaden Daly and I had a little game to see who could come up with the most-obscure Big East players of the last 8 years or so. After running through a bunch of USF names (anyone remember Augustus Gilchrist, Jarrid Famous, Anthony Crater or Toarlyn Fitzpatrick?), we were able to name some truly obscure players. The likes of Deniz Kilicli, Steve Toyloy, Mike Marra and Mookie Jones as well as the immortal Joe Mazzulla, Maurice Acker, Krys Faber, Gavin Edwards and Bilal Dixon came up in the course of this game. What a night it was.
Happy Holidays everyone!