Friday, November 10, 2017

Saint Peter's rattled in opener, but still optimistic in bright future

Pat Coyle looks on as her Saint Peter's team competed with Seton Hall early, but were ultimately no match for Pirates' athleticism. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- The numbers jumped off the stat sheet. Thirty-three turnovers against nineteen field goals.

All the advanced formulas available, for the time being, would not be necessary. In very simple terms, you are not going to win basketball games with a performance as this. For those scoring at home, the turnover rate was an abysmal 43 percent. That pretty much summed up Seton Hall’s 91-49 victory over Saint Peter’s at Walsh Gymnasium. The opener for both teams proved to be a long afternoon for the visitors from Jersey City.

“We couldn’t handle their pressure,” Peacocks coach Pat Coyle said following the game. “They really came at us with the pressure and we got rattled. That was basically the story of the game.” Which begs the question: Will Saint Peter’s find pressure defense their undoing this season?

“I don’t think so,” Coyle said. “Seton Hall came at us with the type pressure we wouldn’t see in the MAAC. I feel we can handle pressure, but have to do a better job. Our point guard, Sammy Lochner, had nine turnovers (in 18 minutes, the sophomore guard also had zero assists and five points). Your point guard is turning it over, then the rest of the team gets rattled. We have to do a better job with the ball.”
Saint Peter’s did not have a player in double figures. They were paced by Sajanna Bethea, a nice inside presence, with eight points. “She knows how to play,” Coyle praised.

Despite the one-sided, turnover-filled loss, Coyle is optimistic. In her fifth season at the MAAC school, she speaks favorably of  her team’s prospects.

“I like our team,” she said. “We have a nice mix of newcomers and veterans. Team health has been an early issue. “We had Zoe Pero (an MAAC all-rookie choice last season) coming off a concussion. Samantha Meier has also been out a little bit during the preseason. But those aren’t excuses for today. We just did not handle pressure at all.”
Aside from the turnovers, Saint Peter’s struggled in half court sets due to the Seton Hall defensive intensity. Alyssa Velles, a senior and outside threat, scored just three points on the afternoon. “We couldn’t get her screens or free her in half court,” Coyle said. Chalk it up to Seton Hall defense.
There is little time to lament over the 40 minutes Coyle would like to forget, but for teaching purposes, will not. Saint Peter’s hosts Lafayette in their opener at Yanitelli Center in Jersey City on Sunday. With this group, she is certain they will bounce back, prepare and come ready to play. In summing up the opener Coyle emphasized, “we are a much better team than that.”

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