Jersey Hoops

This (tough) week in Jersey hoops, and looking ahead to Seton Hall-Memphis and Rutgers-Rider

Seton Hall falls to Iowa, beats Wagner, while Rutgers gets nipped by Temple with two winnable games upcoming.

Kris Murray shines as Hawkeyes overpower Pirates 83-67 in Newark.

The Good: Not much to report here. Apart from Dre Davis, who led the Pirates in scoring with 13 points off the bench (50% FG, 50% 3PT, 1/1 FT), nobody had a particularly memorable performance for the Hall.

The Bad (aka The First Half): The whole game was unpleasant for Pirates fans, but the first half was especially brutal and put the Hall in a 12-point hole that they could never climb out of. Seton Hall shot just 20% from the floor (including 14 missed layups!) and turned the ball over 12 times, which resulted in 13 points for Iowa.

Substitutions : After picking up two quick fouls, Shaheen Holloway’s decision to sit Tyrese Samuel with 4:48 left to play in the first half was understandable; however, before those fouls were committed, Samuel had inexplicably spent a considerable amount of time on the bench (from the 15:35 mark until 7:54), during which, and not so coincidentally, Iowa outscored Seton Hall 19-3. An early foul in the second half (18:33) resulted in a return to the bench for Samuel and the talented forward finished the game having logged only 14 minutes. Though Holloway likes to use a 10-man-rotation, with each man averaging double-digit minutes, sitting a player of Samuel’s caliber/impact (who was not yet in foul trouble) for a long stretch—as the opponent went on a massive run—was a bit of a head-scratcher. 

Officiating: Contrary to popular opinion, the officiating or disparity of fouls called against the Pirates vs the Hawkeyes (25 for SHU, 15 for Iowa) was not the reason why Seton Hall lost. The officials definitely affected this game, though. More than the amount of fouls, what stood out most were the highly questionable (being polite) calls made against key players, namely Kadary Richmond and Tyrese Samuel. 

The Numbers:

29: Points scored by Iowa’s Kris Murray, a career-high for the junior forward. The Hall’s vaunted defense had no answer for him.
16: Turnovers committed by Seton Hall. The Pirates tightened things up in the second half (only committing four TO’s compared to 12 in the first half) but this number is still too high against a well-coached opponent like Iowa.
35.8 FG%: It’s hard to beat anyone when you shoot that poorly from the floor. The season is still young, though, and we anticipate the number of missed layups and turnovers will improve over the coming weeks.

Worth Noting: Perhaps the worst part of this game was watching Alexis Yetna hobble around during pre-game warmups. He does not look like a guy who’s coming back anytime soon, which is unfortunate for a Pirates squad that sorely needs his size/skillset in the frontcourt.

Dawes, Pirates dominate Wagner

Former Seton Hall guard and assistant coach Donald Copeland made his first return trip to the Prudential Center as a head coach on Sunday. While the familiar territory/faces might have stirred up some fond memories for Copeland, the warm welcome was short-lived as a hungry Seton Hall side (coming off a poor showing against Iowa) thrashed his Wagner Seahawks 82-44. 

The Good: After a difficult game offensively vs Iowa, senior guard Al-Amir Dawes bounced back in a big way vs Wagner. Dawes lead the Hall in scoring with 19 points and contributed four rebounds, two assists and three steals in an all-around excellent performance. Femi Odukale (11 points), KC Ndefo (12), Tyrese Samuel (10) and Tray Jackson (16) all scored in double figures for the Pirates.

The Bad: No notes from the performance, but, junior wing Dre Davis was held out of the game due to a knee injury. Davis’ production and physicality have been a nice plus for Seton Hall this season, hopefully the knee won’t be a lingering issue or keep him out for a prolonged period.

The Numbers: 38: The margin of victory for the Pirates. Seton Hall did exactly what they were supposed to do against a lesser opponent without their best player (Wagner’s leading scorer Zaire Williams was out for the second straight week with an injury).  

Looking Ahead: 11/24 vs Memphis 

Memphis, coached by future hall-of-famer Penny Hardaway, is 2-1 and ranked #27 by KenPom—the third-highest ranked opponent on the Pirates’s non-conference schedule after #10 Kansas and #15 Iowa. All three of the Tigers’ games have been against top-100 teams, and their sole loss was to a Saint Louis squad picked to finish 2nd in the Atlantic-10 Conference and projected to make the NCAA tournament.

Hardaway’s team doesn’t have a ton of size inside, and isn’t quite as efficient on offense as Iowa, but they are talented and athletic and—when they choose to play tough defense—can be a really difficult matchup for anyone. 

All of the players in Memphis’ rotation have the ability to score in double figures, but the main scoring threats are seniors Kendric Davis (6’0”, guard) and Deandre Williams (6’9”, forward), averaging 20 and 15 points per game, respectively. 

On offense Seton Hall must limit turnovers, as Memphis is a squad that looks to create offense from defense and can get up and down in a hurry. The Pirates’ versatility on defense, particularly the size/depth at the guard and wing positions, should aid in the attempt to limit Kendric Davis’ production (easier said than done). Tyrese Samuel and Tray Jackson will need to be locked in on the defensive end (and on the boards) as there is an abundance of athleticism in the Memphis frontcourt. If the Pirates can commit less turnovers than they did in the game vs Iowa (16), post a better FG% (35.8) and Dre Davis is healthy, we like Seton Hall in a close game. 

Courtesy Rutgers Athletics

Shorthanded Scarlet Knights fall to battle-tested Owls 72 to 66 at Mohegan Sun Arena

The Good: Cliff Omoruyi led Rutgers in scoring and logged his second straight double-double: 21 points, 11 rebounds. The talented center added a block and an assist to his stat line as well. Cam Spencer and Aundre Hyatt also scored in double figures with 17 and 13 points, respectively.

The Bad: Rutgers did a heck of a job locking down Temple’s leading scorer, Damian Dunn, who only managed 7 points in the contest—well below his average of 29 PPG heading into the matchup. It would seem that the Scarlet Knights failed to account for the Owls’ other talented guard, Hillside, NJ native Khalif Battle (24 points), or sophomore forward Jamille Reynolds (17 points), in their preparation, though. Temple finished the night with fairly balanced offensive stat sheet, as four players scored in double figures.

Steve Pikiell’s squad had a nightmarish performance from behind the arc, shooting just 1-16 from 3PT. The lone three-pointer for Rutgers came from the hand of freshman guard Derek Simpson with 15 seconds left in the game. Simpson’s shot cut the deficit to four points, the closest margin since the 16-minute mark in the first half. 

Simpson, a bright spot on Rutgers’ roster thus far this season, experienced some growing pains on the offensive end in his first start: shooting 9.1% from the floor, 20% from 3PT, and 25% from the free-throw line. The true-freshman didn’t look lost (on either end of the floor) for a player thrust into a starting role so early in his college career, though. We fully expect his numbers to improve as the season progresses and he adjusts to the increased level of competition. 

Credit for Rutgers’ offensive struggles was due, in part, to the Owls’ defense, which looked much improved in this game compared to their previous matchup vs Vanderbilt. Yet, without Paul Mulcahy (shoulder) or Caleb McConnell (knee) available, and nobody able to present any real threat from outside, defending the Scarlet Knights wasn’t exactly a monumental task.

The Numbers: Omoruyi posts another double-double, Rutgers’ defense forces 12 steals (20 total turnovers for Temple) and holds Damian Dunn to less than 10 points, and the Scarlet Knights still trailed by double-digits for more than half of the game—that’s what shooting 38.3% from the field and 6.2% from 3PT gets you.

Looking ahead: 11/22 vs Rider and 11/26 vs Central Connecticut State

Picked to finish third in the MAAC’s preseason poll, many believe that Rider can challenge Iona for top spot in the conference this year. To date the Broncs have yet to put together a performance worthy of their preseason praise, though. In fact, what could be construed as the only highlight of the young season for Kevin Baggett’s squad is a one point loss at Providence. 

Currently ranked 210 on KenPom, Rider is coming off back-to-back, bad losses against low, mid-major competition. It’s still early, though, and Rutgers is in no position to take any opponent lightly; particularly one that has experience and potential to punch above their weight. Guard Dwight Murray and forward Mervin James anchor a senior-laden Broncs’ starting five that features upperclassmen exclusively.

We fully expect Rutgers to win this one, but Rider should come out hungry and focused after their unexpected run of poor form.  

Then, out of the 363 Division 1 basketball teams, CCSU is ranked #334 by KenPom. The Blue Devils, 0-5 on the season, are just not a very good ball club right now. If Rutgers struggles in this game, it’s time to drastically adjust expectations for the season.