Saturday, February 11, 2017

St. John's 78, Seton Hall 70: 5 Thoughts

By Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

With five straight road losses to begin Big East play, Seton Hall's margin for error in terms of making the NCAA Tournament has been slim for a while now. But that margin has been whittled down to almost nothing after a 78-70 loss to St. John's at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.

Here are the Thoughts from a rough loss:

1. Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Seton Hall led 24-21 with about five minutes remaining in what had been, to that point, a first half that was rough on the eyes. Then the turnover bug bit hard and just would not let go, as the Pirates turned the ball over on five straight possessions, leading to what would become a 10-point Red Storm lead at the break and an 18-3 run at its largest, spanning the two halves. 

Most of the overall stats were even in this one- except turnovers. Seton Hall committed 18 of them compared to only eight all game for the Red Storm, which led to an almost-unbelievable 30-5 edge in points off turnovers. It's awfully hard to win any basketball game when the other team turns practically all your giveaways into points on the other end, and that's where the game was lost. Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez combined for 11 of those.

2. Angel Grounded

If you look at the box score, you will see a very familiar double-double from Angel Delgado. 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists to boot- ho, hum, another day at the office. But he had a much better second half than first, and looked flustered by shot blockers (the Red Storm had seven blocks in the first 20 minutes) with just three points on 1-6 shooting. Delgado acknowledged afterwards that he had an "off night," noting that Owens (10 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks) played very well.

Delgado picked up his first foul very early in the game, and while he did a tremendous job of staying on the floor, he wasn't nearly as effective as in the first game against St. John's, when he ripped the Red Storm apart for a 20-20 game.

3. Ish Missed

If there was one game that Ish Sanogo has missed where the Pirates truly missed him, it was probably this one, as St. John's found some success inside to score. The Pirates could have used his stellar defense to help slow down penetration, but also could have used him as a body in the rotation. Seton Hall looked fatigued at several points in this game, and with just two days between an overtime win over Providence (back-to-back with an overtime win at Georgetown), it's no wonder.

Word is that the Pirates should get their ace defender back for Wednesday's contest against Creighton, which will lengthen their rotation following the unexpected departure of Jevon Thomas this past week.

4. Road Woes

The big question coming into this season was "Where would the Pirates miss Isaiah Whitehead?" It was a valid question, but at this point it's safe to say that they miss his abilities most away from home. 

Whitehead had the ability with the ball in his hands late in a game to be a closer, a guy who could play a huge role in helping the Pirates to wins in hostile environments. Last year, Seton Hall was 7-4 in true road games, 6-3 in the Big East. This season? Seton Hall is now 2-6 on the road overall, and 1-6 in seven conference road contests. 

Home court has still been kind (9-1, with the only loss to nemesis Butler), and it will have to be kind again because as we've said here, the NCAA hopes of the team hang in the balance now...

5. Last Chance To Dance

Seton Hall finally has a three-game homestand coming up, but it so happens to be against three top-25 teams in Creighton, Xavier and Villanova, arguably the top three teams in the league. The Pirates dropped road games to all of them, and absolutely must win two of those three at least (and maybe all three) to keep themselves from falling off the NCAA bubble completely.

Of course, had the Pirates been able to win even one of those close road games that they lost at Providence/Marquette (or even at home vs Butler), we'd be discussing something much different, but such is life for the Hall at the moment. They can't look back- they can only focus forward on the mountain ahead of them.

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