Kevin "Fred" Willard brings his crew of Pirates into Milwaukee tonight for a game against YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles. Seton Hall presents an interesting puzzle for college basketball fans. The Pirates rolled into the Big East schedule with a record of 11 wins and just 1 loss. The loss was in a neutral court game against a respectable Northwestern team and was their third game in four days. After finishing the non-conference schedule with a close road win at Dayton and a blowout road win at Longwood, the Pirates had their first Big East test in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse and promptly got rolled, 75-49.
To their credit, Seton Hall took that in stride and promptly became the poster child for the Bizarro Big East, winning their next four games. That's where things turned. The Pirates haven't won a game since, dropping to 4-5 in Big East play and 15-6 overall.
Follow the jump, and with a hat tip to StatSheet.com, we'll see what the numbers can tell us about what's going on with Seton Hall.
1) Defense isn't their problem. We'll ignore the Syracuse game, since that was at the height of Syracuse's roll as the best team in the country. In their other 8 Big East games, Seton Hall averages 0.93 points allowed per possession. They kept every opponent under a point per possession except for Villanova, where they allowed 1.18 PPP. The problem for Seton Hall in their schizo Big East efforts has been their offense. Here's the points per possession for their 4 game winning streak: 1.12, 1.15, 1.0, and 1.22. Outstanding numbers all around. In their four losses, it's a different story: 0.95, 1.07 (the Villanova game), 0.71, 0.72.
2) The Big East knows how to deal with Herb Pope. As Seton Hall built their 11-1 non-conference record, senior forward Herb Pope started to build some notoriety as an early candidate for Big East Player of the Year. Eight double-doubles while averaging 20 points and 11.4 rebounds per game will do that for a guy. But since Big East play has started, Pope has dropped off, especially in the scoring department. He's down to just 10.1 points and 9 rebounds per game. Pope is still the second best rebounder in the Big East behind West Virginia's Kevin Jones, but the fact of the matter is that he's dropped off since Big East play started.
3) Their rotation is strange. From looking at the minutes played, it looks like Kevin Willard goes nine deep on a regular basis. But with that many players going in and out of games, there are still three Pirates - Pope, senior guard Jordan Theodore, and sophomore guard/forward Fuquan Edwin - who average over 31 minutes a game. Freshman guard Aaron Cosby's just outside 30 a game at 29.7. To provide some perspective here, only Darius Johnson-Odom averages more than 31 minutes per game for Marquette.