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Pregame Shootaround: Seton Hall at Georgetown

Hoyas return home and look to rebound after missed opportunity at Xavier.

Andy Lyons

Two weeks ago Georgetown and Seton Hall were more-or-less where they wanted to be. Georgetown, coming off an unfortunate loss to Kansas, was 10-3 and riding a 3-game winning streak, while Seton Hall was 9-4 and also riding a 3-game winning streak. Over the past two weeks, however, both teams have been dealt body blows in the form of the loss of key players, resulting in a three-game losing streak for Seton Hall and a 1-2 record for Georgetown. For Seton Hall, everyone is back to full health and coming off a week of rest. For Georgetown, as you know, things are not looking nearly as sanguine. This will be a contest between two teams with very different mantras right now.

Get to Know Seton Hall.

The Big Picture.

Seton Hall is a very underrated team. They are fairly deep and quite experienced and generally have been playing below their ability thus far in the season. Of the team's core seven players- all of who play at least 24 minutes a game- five are upperclassmen and three of these are seniors. The Pirates come into this game on a three game losing streak, but burly starting center Gene Teague is expected to make his return to the court after missing four games with a concussion. He is a major contributor for this team when healthy, so this is rather unfortunate timing for the Hoyas.

What I learned from Wikipedia.

The University seal is symbolic of hundreds of years of history. The seal combines attributes from the Bayley Coat of Arms and the Seton family crest. The Seton crest dates back as early as 1216 and symbolizes Scottish nobility. The motto on the seal Hazard Zet Forward (Hazard Zit Forward on some versions) is a combination of Norman French and archaic English meaning at whatever risk, yet go forward. Part custom and part superstition, students avoid stepping on an engraving of the seal in the middle of the university green. It is said that students who step on the seal will not graduate on time.

Over the summer of 2010, the university drew criticism from the Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers, after it was announced that a course called "The Politics of Gay Marriage" would be offered. Catholic students also voiced their opposition, pointing to a conflict between the university's Catholic identity and what appeared to be the promotion of homosexuality in the classroom.

Notable Alumni: Dick Vitale (1963), Bob Ley (1976), and Craig Biggio (1987).

Roster rundown. Seton Hall boasts solid depth, especially in the frontcourt, that has the potential to eventually wear down Georgetown's shorthanded roster, just as Xavier did.

Back court.

Sophomore Sterling Gibbs (15.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.0 spg), a first-year transfer from Texas, has already established himself as the alpha dog scorer for Seton Hall and is riding a hot streak heading into this game. Senior Fuquan Edwin (11.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 3.1 spg) is dangerous on the offensive end and even more so on the defensive end. Edwin had been nursing an injured left knee in recent games, but he too is expected to be fully healthy for the Georgetown game. Freshman Jaren Sina (6.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.8 apg) has filled in as starting guard while usual starters Fuquan Edwin and Gene Teague have dealt with their injuries. Sina will likely be relegated back to the bench as Edwin and Teague return to the lineup.

Front court.

Seton Hall's frontcourt is surprisingly deep and experienced. Senior Brian Oliver (12.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg) is a tall and athletic player who will serve as a focal point in Seton Hall's game plan. Oliver has been stepping up big for Seton Hall recently, averaging 16.3 points with 17 3-pointers over his last four games. A pair of junior forwards in Brandon Mobley (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg) and Patrik Auda (10.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), both of whom average more than 24 minutes per game, will also factor into the equation.

As noted, starting center Gene Teague is expected to return to action against Georgetown after missing Seton Hall's previous four games. The Pirates have been without Teague since December 27th when he suffered a nasty fall that resulted in a concussion. The 6-foot-9, 270-pound Teague was averaging 10.8 points and 9.4 rebounds before being injured. Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said he plans to bring Teague back slowly, so expect some kind of a minutes limit in this one.

What to watch when the Pirates have the ball.

  • Pirate: Sterling Gibbs. Gibbs has shown a huge increase in production between his freshman and sophomore seasons and is now the Pirates' de facto go-to player. Gibbs is averaging 15.6 ppg on the season and has reached 10 points in all but 3 games this season. He is also dishing out 4.1 assists per game on the season, so he can contribute in many more ways than just scoring.
  • Hoya: Moses Ayegba. Moses freaking Ayegba. Just as he was in my preview of last game, Moses Ayegba is once again the player to watch when the Hoyas are on defense. Ayegba has now fouled out of back-to-back games in under 20 minutes each, which has compounded the ongoing foul problems of Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins. Against Xavier, Hopkins picked up his 4th foul with 12:54 left in regulation and Lubick's 4th came with 7:42 left. From those points on, respectively, Hopkins and Lubick became teddy bear versions of themselves on defense. All three players need to actively control themselves on defense, but Ayegba in particular needs to stop fouling or the Hoyas will once again be put in some very tough binds late in games.
  • Number. Three-point field goals. Over the past two games the Hoyas have been living and dying by how well they guard the perimeter. Georgetown held Butler to a 2-21 night from beyond the arc, which ultimately allowed us to triumph in overtime. Georgetown carried over that momentum and did an outstanding job against Xavier in the first half of last game, holding the Musketeers to only 1 three-pointer. Xavier came back after halftime and lit us up with 4 three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the half, completely swinging the momentum of the game in their favor. We simply cannot let up our perimeter defense for even a minute, especially since Seton Hall also has the players to make us pay.
  • Feeling delusional because... John Thompson is too smart to let Georgetown's defensive woes continue. In looking at the play-by-play of our recent games I've noticed that our big men, especially Lubick and Ayegba, have a tendency to pick up consecutive fouls very quickly. JTIII would be wise to give his bigs a quick 1-minute cool down period immediately after committing a foul, even if that means running with an unconventional lineup for parts of the first half.
  • Feeling cynical because... We let up 51 points in the second half of the Xavier game. Here's a depressing fact: we held opponents to 51 or fewer points in 13 games last season.

What to watch when the Hoyas have the ball.

  • Hoya: Markel Starks. Starks has hit another rough patch since Josh Smith was declared academically ineligible, shooting 16-47 (34%) in the three games since. It is becoming quite clear how much Starks in particular benefited from Smith drawing defenses toward the middle.
  • Pirate: Fuquan Edwin. Edwin averages 3.1 steals per game, which is good for 4th in the country. The combo guard had been nursing an injured knee recently, but, much to Georgetown's chagrin, should be back at full health in this one. Seton Hall's 7-day break between games came at the perfect time for Edwin, giving him more than enough time to rest and heal his knee. It is the third time this season the Seton Hall has had a week or more off between games this season. Edwin has 13 total steals in the two games immediately following these breaks, so 5+ steals is certainly not out of the question against Georgetown's often turnover-prone offense.
  • Number. Free throw Attempts. Georgetown has shot 43 free throws compared to opponents' 82 free throws over the past three games. The result? Two losses and an overtime victory that we were extremely fortunate to come away with. In the game against Xavier, Georgetown finished with a scant 8 free-throw attempts en route to one of the more embarrassing blown games in recent memory. Considering how strong the correlation between free throw attempts and wins is, this trend is particularly concerning and needs to be bucked. The only way to do so is by attacking, attacking, attacking...
  • Feeling delusional because... We still have one of the best starting guard combos in the country. DSR and Starks are talented enough to lead us past Seton Hall without undue help from the rest of the team.
  • Feeling cynical because... We scored 25 points in the second half of the Xavier game.

Conclusion. I don't feel great about this one. After starting the season 9-4, Seton Hall is 1-3 in the four games since starting center Gene Teague suffered a concussion. He's returning in this one, so expect a fired up team led by a bunch of upperclassmen out to prove themselves and keep the Pirates from a lost season. With Teague returning to action, Seton Hall's depth, especially in the frontcourt, will really hurt Georgetown. Not to mention, Seton Hall's players will be well rested and ready to go in their first game since January 11th.