Seton Hall is named after the first American-born Catholic Saint. Their mascot is a giant blue-haired pirate. I find this amusing.
Yes, the Hall that Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton Built comes to the Carrier Dome tonight to take on the Orange in the first Big East game of the year for both teams. They will be doing so without the services of their head coach, Bobby Gonzalez. G-money is serving out a one-game suspension for his criticism of the referees in the Pirates' loss to Rutgers at the end of last season.
In fact, Bobby came into this season with a whole helluva lot going on over on his bench:
The transfer who is expected to lead the team in scoring is suspended for the first two games for stowing away on the team bus last season. The only incoming big man may sue to have his high school transcript approved by the NCAA. A top recruit from a year ago is dropping his suit against the NCAA to be declared eligible.
And two more incoming transfers - "difference-makers," coach Bobby Gonzalez calls them - are appealing for second-semester eligibility.
It's almost as if the Pirates, who won at home Friday night against St. Francis (N.Y.), 88-61, should have a lawyer on the end of their bench instead of a priest.
The Hall has put up a modest 9-3 record but recent developments havve been disconcerting. The team was 8-1 a couple weeks back, including wins over USC and Virginia Tech. Then they lost at home to 7-5 IUPUI. Then they lost again, this time to 7-5 James Madison. A win over lowly Fairleigh Dickinson got the Hall back on track but they've been exposed and in this conference that's a deathknell.
If you want a reason why the Pirates dropped so quickly, look at center John Garcia. Garcia missed the last three games with a sore knee and his presence in the middle was sorely missed. The smart money is on Garcia missing tonight's game as well and if so that gives the Orange a distinct advantage in the rebounding department.
If the Orange are going to want to keep a body on someone, it's gotta be Jeremy Hazell. The sophomore guard is far and away Seton Hall's best shooter, scoring over 22 points a game. In fact, the Pirate's will be relying on their guards, including Eugene Harvey and Paul Gause to make their shots and force the Orange to come out of the zone. It's their best chance.
But the Orange still have Arinze Onuaku who continues to be a double-double machine. Jonny Flynn is coming off a "poor" performance against Coppin State. Eric Devendorf returns to the court. Andy Rautins is back. And Paul Harris is Paul Harris. All signs point to the Orange playing like they have something to prove, especially given the fact that despite their ranking many still don't put them in the upper echelon of the conference.
Begun, the Big East season has.