New York Colleges: Seton Hall

Seton Hall's Whitehead out vs. DePaul

January, 15, 2015
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Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard has ruled out Isaiah Whitehead for his team's next game against DePaul.

Whitehead, the Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year, has missed the Pirates' past six games with a stress fracture in his foot and will miss at least one more -- even though it is still a week away, on Jan. 22.

"He had a great MRI a couple days ago, it showed that the bone is really healing," Willard said Thursday. "We probably won't take another [MRI] until after the DePaul game, and then see if it's still healing."

Whitehead will likely miss the game at Butler on Jan. 25 as well. "Maybe the Marquette game at Marquette [on Jan. 28], we're looking for," Willard said.

The Pirates are currently ranked No. 21 in the AP poll, but will probably drop out of the Top 25 after their 79-75 overtime loss at home to Butler on Tuesday.

The team has gone 4-2 thus far without Whitehead, who is the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 11.9 points per game.

Rapid Reaction: Seton Hall 64, Villanova 63

March, 13, 2014
3/13/14
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NEW YORK -- Some quick thoughts on Seton Hall’s 64-63 win Thursday over Villanova at Madison Square Garden:

What it means: Villanova probably blew its chance to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Seton Hall is in the Big East tournament semifinals, two wins away from stealing an NCAA bid.

The Wildcats -- the top seed in the Big East, and the No. 3-ranked team in the country -- were stunned by the Pirates, thanks to Sterling Gibbs’ jumper as time expired.

Seton Hall (17-16, 6-12), the No. 8 seed, is in the Big East semis for the first time since 2001. Villanova (28-4, 16-2) will likely get a No. 2 seed, at best, on Selection Sunday.

The turning point: Seton Hall shocked the early-afternoon Garden crowd by taking a 28-13 lead with a little more than eight minutes remaining in the first half. Villanova scored the final six points of the half to cut its deficit to eight for a 34-26 score. The Wildcats shot just 7-for-26 (26.9 percent) from the field, and missed seven free throws.

Villanova erupted on a 16-0 run, sparked by several open-court steals and scores, to make it 47-44 with eight minutes left, its first lead of the game. But Seton Hall did not wilt. The game came down to the final minute.

A Villanova steal followed by a Josh Hart layup broke a 59-59 tie with 41 seconds remaining. Then Seton Hall’s Jaren Sina buried a 3-pointer from the corner with 21 seconds left to put the Pirates back up 62-61. Darrun Hilliard got a jumper in the lane to roll in with 11 seconds left, giving the lead back to the Wildcats 63-62. And then Gibbs pulled up and nailed a jumper from the foul line area at the buzzer, setting off a wild celebration.

Star watch: Senior forward Gene Teague had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Seton Hall. Patrik Auda scored 13 points, all in the first half. Gibbs finished with 10 points and six assists.

Hart led Villanova with 18 points off the bench.

Number crunch: Villanova shot just 22-for-58 from the field (37.9 percent), 4-for-19 from beyond the arc (21.1 percent), and 15-for-25 from the foul line (60 percent).

What’s next: Seton Hall will play either No. 4 seed Providence or No. 5 seed St. John’s at 7 p.m. ET Friday. Villanova heads home to Philadelphia and awaits Selection Sunday.

St. John's climbs to .500 in Big East

February, 14, 2014
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NEWARK, N.J. -- If St. John’s wins in The Rock and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

The answer is yes. It wasn’t particularly impressive, but the buzz about the Red Storm will only increase after their 68-67 win at Seton Hall on Thursday -- even if just a couple hundred fans were in the building to witness it due to a nasty nor’easter.

St. John’s (16-9) has climbed from 0-5 in the Big East to 6-6 in the span of just three weeks, and now practically anything seems possible.

St. John's logo“This team is a special bunch,” guard D’Angelo Harrison said, “and we’re finding ways to win.”

They found a way Thursday despite a brutal first half in which the team eclipsed its turnover average (10.2) with 11 in just 20 minutes. Seton Hall had a 9-3 advantage on the offensive glass, a 14-5 edge in second-chance points, and led 38-33 at the break -- despite being without two starters, swingman Brian Oliver and power forward Gene Teague, who were suspended by coach Kevin Willard for attitude problems.

St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said it was the worst his team had looked since their first half at Georgetown on Jan. 4, when the Red Storm trailed 42-16 at intermission.

“It was a group of zombies that I didn’t recognize,” Lavin said, “because for over a month now we’ve been in a really good way and on a good path of progress and playing together as a team.”

St. John’s played better in the second half, but the game was still tied at 67 in the final minute. Seton Hall guard Fuquan Edwin, who scored a game-high 25 points, missed a decent look from the top of the key with 27 seconds remaining.

“I’ll live and die with Fu taking shots,” Willard said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s giving all his effort. He’s been shooting 42 percent from the 3. It was good defense by them.”

The winning point came at the foul line -- from Chris Obekpa, of all people. A fitting end to a strange night.

Big East logoSt. John’s ran the clock down, with the chance to take the last shot in regulation. Harrison, the team's leading scorer, was the primary option, naturally. But Obekpa was open in the lane after setting a screen for Harrison, and freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan hit Obekpa with a pinpoint pass. A 40.7 percent free throw shooter, Obekpa made one of two from the foul line, and then St. John’s intercepted a long baseball pass to seal the victory.

“He’s as exceptional a passer as any player I’ve coached, for this stage of a career,” Lavin said, of Jordan. “The judgments, the precision is first-rate.”

It was fitting that Jordan and Obekpa teamed up for the game-winning play, because the improved performance of those two players has been the key to the Red Storm’s resurgence. Each scored 10 points in the game, two of four St. John’s players in double figures. Harrison led the way with 12, and Sir’Dominic Pointer also scored 10 off the bench.

It was yet another balanced effort, from a team clicking on all cylinders right now -- Thursday’s first half notwithstanding.

St. John’s notched its first road win versus Seton Hall in 16 years, and is now firmly in the NCAA tournament at-large bid conversation, despite a hellish start to conference play.

“I’d put this group up there with as special as any that I’ve worked with,” Lavin said, “because of their resiliency, their pluck, their spirit, their fight-back, their gumption.”

Next up is a rematch with Georgetown on Sunday -- a chance for redemption, against a team that handed St. John’s its worst loss of the season six weeks ago.

“[Getting to] .500 is still not good enough for us,” Harrison said. “We gotta get past this game and get ready for Georgetown [on] Sunday. That’s a big game.”

They’re all big now, thanks to this remarkable three-week run -- capped off by a gutty victory in a nearly empty Prudential Center.

Red Storm red hot as snow blasts NY again

February, 13, 2014
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Steve LavinNate Shron/Getty ImagesSteve Lavin & Co. have turned things around since an awful start. We've got three reasons for it.
NEW YORK -- The only New Yorkers enjoying this miserable February may be the St. John’s Red Storm, and their fans.

The weather has been bitter cold, and the snow just won’t get lost, but St. John’s is red hot -- a winner of three in a row, and six of seven.

After an 0-5 start in conference play, the Red Storm are back in the NCAA tournament conversation.

Next up? A rematch with cross-river rival Seton Hall on Thursday night at the Prudential Center. St. John’s won the first meeting of the season, 77-76 on Jan. 23 at Carnesecca Arena. But believe it or not, the Red Storm haven’t beaten the Pirates on the road in 16 years -- since Feb. 15, 1998, to be exact. (Ron Artest, aka Metta World Peace, was a freshman.)

What’s behind the St. John’s turnaround? Here are three reasons the Red Storm are suddenly a force to be reckoned with:

1. D UP: St. John’s held Creighton, currently ranked 23rd in the country in scoring (80.5 ppg), to 63 and 65 points, respectively, in two of its past four games. In the two games in between, St. John’s limited Providence to 38.1 percent shooting, and Marquette to 34.8 percent.

The Red Storm have risen to 50th (out of 345) in Division I in field-goal percentage defense (40.4), and remain tops in the nation in in blocked shots per game (eight). Coach Steve Lavin has turned to full-court pressure more frequently in recent games, and it’s worked.

Lavin said Wednesday he sees the defensive improvement as the “continued evolution of a basketball team.” The players spoke of a different mindset, brought about in part by improved practice habits and extra sprints for the losers in particular drills.

“We’re maturing as a group,” guard D'Angelo Harrison said. “We don’t like when teams score, we get mad when other teams score. Each possession [the other team scores] now, we look around -- like, what happened? That’s a good thing. We take pride on defense now.”

2. DOUBLE UP: Everyone who’s playing right now is making a significant contribution. In the win over Creighton on Sunday, eight players got at least 10 minutes and all eight scored. Six of the eight had at least seven points. The other two were the team’s leading rebounder and assist man in the game.

But two players in particular have stepped up their games of late: sophomore center Chris Obekpa, and freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan.

Obekpa appeared to be in a funk for most of January, scoring just 15 points in the first seven games of the month, with only 12 blocked shots -- he led the nation in blocks last season (4.1 bpg), and is ninth this year (3.3). But in the past four games, Obekpa has scored in double figures three times, collected at least five rebounds in each game, and recorded 11 blocks.

Jordan, who was rated No. 17 in the ESPN 100 as a high school senior -- three spots ahead of Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis, a candidate for national freshman of the year -- hasn’t had nearly the impact Ennis has had. But Jordan has come on of late. He scored a career-high 18 points against Providence nine days ago, and has had six or more assists in each of the past three games. He’s now third on the team in scoring (8.1 ppg), leads the team in assists (3.3 apg), and has a 1.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“He’s passing the ball so well, and he’s defending -- he’s creating a lot of havoc, he’s getting a lot of steals,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said Wednesday of Jordan. “He’s creating their tempo for them, he’s really pushing at a great pace and he’s making great decisions. Although he’s a freshman, he’s probably playing as good as anybody in the conference right now.”

3. SUBS DOWN: The low point of the season thus far was the loss at Georgetown on Jan. 4. Lavin started walk-on Khadim Ndiaye and little-used Felix Balamou to shake things up, brought JaKarr Sampson off the bench for the first time in his career, and used 13 different players in the first half alone. The moves certainly did not work -- the Red Storm trailed 42-16 at intermission.

Lavin continued to use 10 or more players after that. But in recent games, he has whittled down his rotation. Lavin went with eight in the win over Creighton, plus a brief first-half cameo by forward God'sgift Achiuwa. In the previous game against Providence, the rotation was even tighter -- only six players received double-digit minutes.

It should come as no surprise that the team’s chemistry has improved as a result. Lavin continues to tinker with the starting lineup, but there’s been a lot more consistency of late overall, in terms of combinations. In the team’s past five games, three five-man groups have played nearly 50 percent of the minutes, according to kenpom.com. All three groups feature Jordan, Harrison and Sampson. Obekpa is in two of them, with Orlando Sanchez, Sir'Dominic Pointer, Phil Greene and Jamal Branch sprinkled in one apiece.

St. John’s has certainly looked more together defensively, which can lead to improved offense as well, as Lavin said Wednesday.

“If you’re playing in a cohesive manner defensively in terms of rotating, or helping on a screen, or diving on the floor, giving up your body trying to get a 50/50 or loose ball,” Lavin said, “then I think you’re more likely on the offensive end to also set that screen to set up a teammate, or make that one extra pass to get the open shot, or tip a ball to keep it alive so that a teammate can secure the offensive rebound.”

There are other reasons St. John’s has been winning games. Harrison has been a rock all season long, averaging 18.3 points (third in the conference), scoring in double figures in 22 of 24 games (and 20-plus points 10 times). The entire team has done a tremendous job taking care of the ball -- the Red Storm are 20th in the country in turnovers (10.2 per game), and 19th in turnover margin (+3.3 per game).

But now, just three weeks after beating Seton Hall for its first Big East win after an 0-5 start, St. John’s has a chance to beat the Hall again to improve to 6-6 in the conference -- .500, with six games to play.

“We’re supposed to have been playing like this,” Harrison said. “I’m not gonna say it’s good that [the bad start] happened, but it made us learn a lot in a couple weeks. Now we’re a completely different group.”

Fitting end to Syracuse-Seton Hall series

February, 17, 2013
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Syracuse-Seton HallJim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsPirates center Kevin Johnson drives against Orange forward Rakeem Christmas in the 2nd half.
NEWARK, N.J. -- In a college basketball season full of endings, we said goodbye again Saturday night.

Seton Hall versus Syracuse drew 13,569 fans to the Prudential Center -- a record crowd for a Seton Hall game at The Rock. They watched the No. 6-ranked Orange defeat the Pirates, 76-65, in what will probably be the final meeting between the two schools, barring a matchup in next month’s Big East tournament.

These two teams -- two of the seven original members of the Big East -- have played each other 63 times dating back to 1948. But Syracuse departs for the ACC next year, and soon after, Seton Hall will depart as well, with the so-called Catholic 7.

It was only fitting that Syracuse finished on top Saturday, since it has dominated the series, winning 47 of 63.

The Orange actually trailed early, 21-12, after the Pirates started out hot from beyond the arc. But by halftime, Syracuse was back in front, 36-30.

Seton Hall battled gamely in the second half, refusing to fold after Syracuse went up by a dozen, 59-47. The Pirates cut the margin to six, 60-54, with just under six minutes remaining. But the Orange closed them out from there.

Senior guard Brandon Triche was the hero, pumping in a career-high 29 points and adding six rebounds and five assists.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Triche
Chris Chambers/Getty ImagesSyracuse guard Brandon Triche scored a game-high 29 points.
“He really offensively kept us in the game early and made plays at the end,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He just had an unbelievable game tonight.”

Syracuse committed just four turnovers and outrebounded Seton Hall 42-32, including 20-9 on the offensive glass.

“You just can’t give a very good basketball team that many second shots,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said.

The Pirates didn’t help their cause by making just 17 of 29 free throws (58.6 percent).

“That seems to have been one of our Achilles' heels -- not taking advantage of opportunities this season,” Willard said. “But they worked hard. It was good to see that we were able to get to the free throw line.”

These two teams are truly headed in opposite directions -- and not just in terms of conference affiliation. Syracuse (21-4, 9-3) is now in a three-way tie atop the Big East standings with Georgetown and Marquette.

Seton Hall (13-13, 2-11) has plummeted to second-to-last after its seventh consecutive loss. This is the Pirates’ longest losing streak since 2002.

“It’s tough,” forward Eugene Teague said. “You want to win bad, but it’s just not happening right now.”

Injuries continue to decimate the Seton Hall roster. Starting forward Brandon Mobley played against Syracuse, but is being shut down for the rest of the season and will have shoulder surgery, Willard revealed after the game. Swingman Brian Oliver also sat out Saturday night, with what Willard described as a “self-proclaimed” ankle injury.

“It’s one of those amazing injuries, that when a game appears, it kind of goes away and feels really good, and when practice appears it really hurts,” Willard said, in deadpan fashion. “We do have the New England Journal of Medicine coming to study him, because they wanna know how that’s possible. It’s quite amazing.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier, either. The Pirates’ next two games are at home against No. 18 Marquette, followed by a trip to No. 12 Louisville. But Willard hasn’t lost all hope.

“I haven’t played a Big East game yet with a full roster,” Willard said. “As much as I hate losing, and I hate losing more than anybody else, I’m still very optimistic about where we’re going.”

As for the end of the Syracuse-Seton Hall series, Boeheim wasn’t feeling very nostalgic afterward. “You’re so worried about the game, you can’t think about that,” Boeheim said. “Every game is just incredibly tough in this league.”

Willard had a little more to offer.

“It’s a shame what will become of this conference -- eventually, there will no longer be a conference,” Willard said. “I think it’s a shame what has happened in the landscape of college athletics. But I like where we’re going.”

Syracuse versus Seton Hall -- you won’t hear that again anytime soon. Maybe ever again.

There have been better, fiercer rivalries, to be sure. But it’s still sad when things come to an end.

Rapid Reaction: Syracuse 76, Seton Hall 65

February, 16, 2013
2/16/13
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NEWARK, N.J. -- A quick take on Seton Hall's 76-65 loss to No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday night at the Prudential Center:

What it means: Syracuse (21-4, 9-3) is now in a three-way tie atop the Big East standings, alongside Georgetown and Marquette. Seton Hall (13-13, 2-11) is second-to-last and has now lost seven straight games for the first time since 2002.

These two teams, conference rivals since 1979, may not play each other again for a very long time, unless they meet in the Big East tournament next month. Syracuse departs for the ACC after this season.

The turning point: Thanks to some early success from beyond the arc, Seton Hall jumped out to a 21-12 lead with 11:17 left in the first half. But then, the Pirates went ice cold, going more than six minutes without scoring a point. Syracuse scored 12 straight to gain the lead and led 36-30 at intermission.

The Orange went up by 12, 59-47, with nine minutes and change remaining. The Pirates didn't fold, whittling the deficit back down to six, but they got no closer. Brandon Triche's trey with 3:08 remaining was the final dagger, making it 69-56 and essentially putting the game out of reach.

Star watch: Triche had a fantastic game with 29 points, six rebounds and five assists. Three other players were in double figures for Syracuse -- C.J. Fair (19 points, 11 rebounds), Michael Carter-Williams (14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists) and James Southerland (11 points).

Fuquan Edwin had a team-high 21 points for Seton Hall.

Number crunch: Seton Hall shot itself in the foot at the foul line. The Pirates made just 17 of 29 attempts from the charity stripe (58.6 percent).

Syracuse outrebounded Seton Hall 42-32, including 20-9 on the offensive glass. The Orange committed just four turnovers in the game.

What's next: Seton Hall hosts No. 18 Marquette Tuesday at 7 p.m. Syracuse hosts Providence Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Seton Hall made it official on Monday, announcing that former Texas guard Sterling Gibbs is transferring and joining the Pirates.

Click here to read more.

Sterling Gibbs transferring to Seton Hall

April, 19, 2012
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Sterling Gibbs, a 6-foot-1 guard formerly of the University of Texas, intends to transfer to Seton Hall.

Gibbs averaged only 2.6 points in 7.5 minutes per game for the Longhorns as a freshman this past season, but should have a much more prominent role with the Pirates, once he becomes eligible.

He hails from Scotch Plains, N.J., played his high school ball at Seton Hall Prep, and is the younger brother of former Pittsburgh star Ashton Gibbs.
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Seton Hall

Seton Hall retiring Biggio's number

April, 3, 2012
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Seton Hall will retire Craig Biggio's No. 44 on Saturday afternoon, prior to the Pirates' home game versus Notre Dame at noon.

Biggio starred at the Hall before entering the major leagues with the Houston Astros. The seven-time All-Star played all 20 of his big-league seasons with the Astros, and collected 3,060 career hits before retiring following the 2007 season.

W2W4: Seton Hall vs. UMass

March, 16, 2012
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Here are three things to watch for when Seton Hall (21-12, 8-10 Big East) takes on Massachusetts (23-11, 9-7 Atlantic 10) on Saturday morning at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, N.J.

Tip-off is at 11 a.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN, or via ESPN3.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: A spot in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals.

Seton Hall, one of four No. 1 seeds in this year's NIT, got here by beating Stony Brook 63-61 on Tuesday night. UMass, a No. 5 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Mississippi State in Starkville, 101-96 in double overtime, also on Tuesday.

The winner will play the winner of No. 3 seed Drexel versus No. 7 seed Northern Iowa. If Seton Hall wins, they will host that quarterfinal game on Tuesday, again at Walsh Gym on campus.

THE PIRATES: Seniors Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope led Seton Hall, as usual, against Stony Brook -- Theodore had 21 points and six assists, Pope had 20 points and nine rebounds.

Despite the disappointment of not making the NCAA tournament in their final opportunity, the two seniors looked motivated to play well in the NIT and get back to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and championship game.

It's also a great opportunity for all the Seton Hall freshmen and sophomores to accumulate some postseason experience.

THE MINUTEMEN: UMass finished tied for fifth in the regular season in the Atlantic 10, upset top-seed Temple in the A-10 tourney quarterfinals, and then lost 84-80 to eventual A-10 champ St. Bonaventure in the semifinals.

The Minutemen are led by 5-foot-9 sophomore guard Chaz Williams, a Brooklyn native who transferred from Hofstra, who is averaging 16.7 points, 6.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. Six-foot-nine sophomore forward Raphiael Putney and 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Jesse Morgan average 10.3 and 10.1 points per game, respectively.

UMass is 16th in scoring in the country (77.5 ppg), but 293rd in scoring defense (72.6 ppg). The Minutemen are 32nd in 3-point field goals per game (8.1), but just 219th in free throw percentage (67.9). They are eighth in the country in steals per game (8.9), but 271st in turnovers per game (14.9).

Derek Kellogg, a former UMass point guard and John Calipari disciple, is finishing his fourth year as head coach.

Rapid Reax: Seton Hall 63, Stony Brook 61

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
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Recap | Box score

WHAT IT MEANS: Seton Hall (21-12), one of the four No. 1 seeds in the National Invitation Tournament, withstands a tough challenge from No. 8 seed Stony Brook (22-10) and advances to the second round of the NIT.

The Pirates, who were disappointed to not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, extend their season for at least one more game. The Seawolves, who won the America East regular season title but were upset in the conference championship game by Vermont, are done for the season.

TURNING POINT: After Stony Brook went ahead 2-0, Seton Hall scored 12 points in a row -- the Seawolves went almost eight minutes without a point, turning the ball over on several occasions. But then Stony Brook started making shots, and rallied to trail by just two, 32-30, at halftime.

Stony Brook actually took a three-point lead early in the second half, 39-36, with just over 16 minutes remaining. The game was tied midway through the second half at 46. The key sequence came right after that -- a 7-0 Seton Hall run to make it 53-46.

In the middle of that run, Dave Coley -- Stony Brook's second-leading scorer -- picked up his fourth foul on a charge call, and then received a questionable technical foul for protesting the call. That knocked Coley out of the game, and Stony Brook really could have used him down the stretch.

Still, Stony Brook had one last chance to tie or win the game. Bryan Dougher missed a long 3-point attempt that would have put the Seawolves on top, and then Tommy Brenton's putback at the buzzer went around the rim and fell out.

KEY PLAYER: Seton Hall's two senior leaders stepped up in a big way Tuesday night. Jordan Theodore had 21 points and six assists; Herb Pope had 20 points and nine rebounds.

For Stony Brook, seniors Dallis Joyner and Dougher were both in double figures in their final collegiate game -- Joyner had 14 points, Dougher added 12. Marcus Rouse had 13 points off the bench.

KEY STAT: Seton Hall had 15 steals on the night, including six by Fuquan Edwin, the NCAA leader in steals this season.

MISCELLANEOUS: This was the first Seton Hall game played in Walsh Gymnasium, on the Seton Hall campus, since Dec. 4, 2000. ... Seton Hall had lost 11 straight games in the NIT, dating back to 1956.

WHAT'S NEXT: Seton Hall will next face No. 5 seed UMass, which beat No. 4 seed Mississippi State 101-96 in double overtime Tuesday night. The date for the game has not yet been determined, but it will be at Walsh Gymnasium.

W2W4: Seton Hall vs. Stony Brook

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
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Here are three things to watch for when Seton Hall (20-12, 8-10 Big East) takes on Stony Brook (22-9, 14-2 America East) on Tuesday night at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, N.J.

Tip-off is at 7:15 p.m., and you can watch the game via ESPN3.

CONSOLATION PRIZE: Both teams were hoping to be in the NCAA tournament, but Seton Hall was left out by the selection committee, and Stony Brook was upset in the America East championship game by Vermont. Instead, these two local teams will battle in the first round of the NIT.

The Pirates are one of four No. 1 seeds in this tournament -- the Seawolves are a No. 8 seed. The winner of this game will be play the winner of No. 4 seed Mississippi State versus No. 5 seed Massachusetts.

Each team, or both, could be susceptible to a hangover effect after big disappointments over the weekend.

WELCOME HOME: This will be the first men's basketball game played at Walsh Gymnasium since Dec. 4, 2000, when Seton Hall defeated Norfolk State, 97-87. In that game, Seton Hall freshman forward Eddie Griffin had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks in 27 minutes of action -- the only triple double in school history.

Another interesting note: This is Seton Hall's 17th appearance in the NIT, but the Pirates have lost 11 straight games in this tournament. Their last win came way back in 1956.

For Stony Brook, this is its second NIT appearance in the past three seasons. The Seawolves hosted a first-round game in 2010, and lost to Illinois.

SAY GOODBYE: This will be the last game of the season for one of these two teams, and both teams have seniors who have had outstanding college careers.

For Seton Hall, point guard Jordan Theodore (16.0 ppg, 6.7 apg) and power forward Herb Pope (15.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg) were both All-Big East selections this season -- Theodore on the second team, Pope on the third team. Theodore also broke the school's single-season record for assists this year.

Stony Brook is led by senior guard Bryan Dougher (13.2 ppg), a New Jersey native, who just became the school's all-time Division I scoring leader in the America East title game.

Willard reacts to Seton Hall's NCAA snub

March, 11, 2012
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Seton Hall -- which ESPN "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi had picked to be the last team to make it into the NCAA tournament field of 68 -- was one of this year's bubble teams that had its hopes popped on Sunday evening.

The Pirates, despite finishing the regular season with a record of 20-12 (8-10 Big East), are headed to the NIT. They are the sixth 20-win Big East team of the last 153 to not make the Big Dance.

"Well, obviously we are disappointed," said coach Kevin Willard on a conference call with reporters Sunday evening. "But still excited, very excited about being in the NIT, and having a chance to still play basketball."

The Pirates will host Stony Brook (22-9), the America East regular season champion, on Tuesday at Walsh Gymnasium, on Seton Hall's campus. Tip-off is at 7:15 p.m.

Seton Hall was chasing its first NCAA bid since 2006. Willard is only in his second season with the program, and the roster is comprised largely of freshmen and sophomores, so they will have more opportunities to accomplish this goal in the years ahead.

But for Seton Hall's two senior leaders, point guard Jordan Theodore and power forward Herb Pope, this was their last chance.

"My two seniors took it hard. Really hard," said Willard. "It was tough to console them, because it was a really emotional time for both of them. They both gave so much this year to us, and both have come through so much at this university."

Seton Hall had a roller coaster of a season. The Pirates started out 15-2, earning their first national ranking since 2001. Then they went into a tailspin from mid-January to early February, losing six straight games.

They rebounded to win four of five after that, including an 18-point victory over then-No. 8 Georgetown on Feb. 21 that everyone believed put them on the cusp of that coveted NCAA bid. But then they ended the regular season with an overtime loss to Rutgers, followed by an inexplicable 28-point loss at last-place DePaul.

Seton Hall dispatched Providence in the first-round of the Big East tournament, but lost to Louisville in the second round.

"Unfortunately I think [the selection committee] looked at the last two games of the [regular] season ... when in fact, that really wasn't who we were all year," said Willard. "But at the same time, all the teams that got in were great teams."

Willard also said that he will change his approach to scheduling going forward. Seton Hall went 11-1 during its nonconference slate this season, including a win at Dayton, and wins against VCU and St. Joseph's at a neutral site. The Pirates' only nonconference blemish was a loss to Northwestern, again at a neutral site.

"I thought we put together a really good nonconference sked to help us out [with the selection committee]," said Willard. "It obviously doesn't matter who you play in the nonconference, it just matters how you do in your conference.

"Playing road games and playing tough neutural-court games doesn't help you in your conference, I've learned that very quickly," Willard added, saying that his new plan for nonconference scheduling is to "not leave the state, play all home games, and get ready for the Big East."

Ironically, Iona -- the team Willard coached for three years before taking the Seton Hall job -- was one of the bubble teams that made the NCAA tournament field on Sunday. "I'm ecstatic," said Willard. "Where that program was four years ago or five years ago, to get an at-large bid? Couldn't be happier."

As for Seton Hall, the Pirates did receive one of the No. 1 seeds in the NIT.

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished this season," said Willard, "and we're looking forward to getting back on the court on Tuesday.”

Rapid Reaction: LIU, Iona make Big Dance

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
7:00
PM ET
Brackets: PDF | GIF

Some quick thoughts following the NCAA tournament selection show:

BIG SURPRISE! Iona -- the regular season champ in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which was upset in the semifinals of the MAAC tournament -- made the field of 68, which few people expected coming into the day.

The Gaels (25-7, 15-3 MAAC) were one of the final four teams to receive an at-large bid, which means they have to play a play-in game on Tuesday, which will tip off at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET. Iona will play BYU (25-8), which finished in third place in the West Coast Conference at 12-4, behind St. Mary's and Gonzaga.

The winner will be a No. 14 seed, and will face No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Ky., as part of the West bracket.

SMALL DISAPPOINTMENT: LIU Brooklyn, the regular season and tournament champion of the Northeast Conference, was the only local team guaranteed to be in the field coming into the day.

LIU received the No. 16 seed in the West bracket and will play No. 1 seed Michigan State in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. The Blackbirds, who were a No. 15 seed a year ago, are thrilled to be back in the Big Dance, but they thought they deserved a higher seed (more to come later tonight).

The Spartans (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten) tied for first in the Big Ten during the regular season, and beat Ohio State to win the Big Ten tournament on Sunday.

BIGGER DISAPPOINTMENT: Seton Hall (20-12, 8-10 Big East), the other local team that was on the bubble heading into the day, was left out of the field entirely. ESPN.com's final edition of Bracketology had Seton Hall as the last team in the field, and Iona being left out -- but the selection committee obviously saw things differently.

We'll have reaction from Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard later tonight as well.

W2W4: Selection Sunday

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
3:08
PM ET
Here are three things to watch for on Selection Sunday, for all you local college basketball fans out there.

The official NCAA tournament selection show begins at 6 p.m. ET, and will air on CBS.

FLY, BLACKBIRDS, FLY: LIU Brooklyn, your Northeast Conference champions, are the only New York-area team that's definitely going dancing. Now it's just a matter of, where are they headed?

The latest ESPN.com Bracketology projection has LIU as a No. 15 seed in the West region, playing No. 2 seed Kansas in Omaha, Nebraska.

I will be watching the selection show with the Blackbirds on campus, and will have a postgame reaction story plus video from the event later tonight.

ON THE EDGE OF THEIR SEATS: Seton Hall and Iona are our two bubble teams -- both have a chance to be in the field of 68, but it could go either way.

The Pirates are currently the second-to-last team in the field, according to the ESPN bracket. They would be a No. 12 seed in the East, and have to play a play-in game versus BYU in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Gaels are currently the second team among the first four out -- they appear to be in the more precarious position, and would likely have to play a play-in game as well.

DON'T FORGET: The NIT bracket will also be revealed tonight, at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. Iona will definitely be in the NIT field if it doesn't make the NCAA tournament, because it won the MAAC regular season championship.

Seton Hall will likely be in the NIT as well, if it fails to make the Big Dance. Also, Stony Brook -- the America East regular season champions, who lost their conference championship game to Vermont on Saturday -- will definitely be in the NIT field. And Wagner -- which went 25-6 this season, finishing second to LIU Brooklyn in the NEC -- also could make the NIT.

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