Welcome back to our semi-regular feature Friends With Bennies, where we sit down with another Big East blogger to talk about their team. Today we have Robert from South Orange Juice to talk about tomorrow's game with St. John's. I also answered some questions for them, which you can find here. Also check out their game preview.
TheUConnBlog: In the last week Seton Hall was obliterated by Syracuse, but handily beat a good West Virginia team. What was the difference between the two games and what sort of team should UConn be expecting to face?
South Orange Juice: Syracuse is good. Scary good. They are also huge, and the game was our second true road game of the year (neutral court tournament aside plus a game at Longwood don't truly count). For whatever reason, Seton Hall did not play with the drive and intensity needed to make a game out of it at Syracuse. Conversely, they played the West Virginia game like the court was on fire. The Seton Hall zone defence befuddled WVU for the vast majority of the game, as they only had 22 points at the half. Jordan Theodore is the team's leader on and off the court. He is close friends and former teammates with Kemba Walker, and it's been well documented that in seeing Kemba enjoy such tremendous success last year has lit a fire in the senior, so I'd expect to see equal intensity from the Pirates that you've probably seen on tape from the WVA game.
TUB: Just how good is Herb Pope? And what is the best way to stop him? He seems like one of the favorites to be the Big East Player of the Year and could cause some real issues for the Huskies.
SOJ: Herb Pope is good; very good. In fact, Herb is currently projected to go in the NBA draft towards the top of the 2nd draft. Teams have had success double teaming Herb, and it appears that the unselfish senior has no problem kicking the ball out to the perimeter for freshman sharp shooter Aaron Cosby for an open look. This year's version of Herb (last year he was recovering from a rare heart condition that caused him to collapse prior to the season, and as such, he had a sub-par 2010 campaign) is much, much stronger and smarter. I am very much looking forward to seeing how Pope gets up for his assignment with the ubber-talented freshman, Drummond.
TUB: Can you tell me a bit about the cast around Pope? And Jordan Theodore in particular?SOJ: Like I mentioned, JT is the team leader on and off the court. He is ranked in the top 10 in the country in assists. His line against WVA: 18 points, 8 assists, and 0 turnovers. He's perhaps the most underrated true point guard in the country and he is very, very hungry for success. Seton Hall also has a very nice freshman 2 guard in Aaron Cosby. He's been said to have Jeremy Hazell-like range but his shot selection is far better than the former Seton Hall star. Fuquan Edwin (Big East leader in steals) should be a huge factor, as he's a lock-down defender and he'll be going at Lamb and that, to me, may be the best match up to watch far tonight. Patrick Auda is a hard-nosed player from the Czech Republic and will, no doubt, be helping on the Drummond assignment. Seton Hall has a very nice starting 5, but after that, the bench is very thin (by far the biggest weakness of SHU).
TUB: Where do you see the Pirates ending up this year, both nationally and in the Big East?
SOJ: Seton Hall was picked to finish 13th out of 16 teams in the Big East. Those of us who know the ability of the starting 5 plus 2 legit BE players off the bench in Haralds Karlis and Brandon Mobley knew that the Pirates COULD have something special this year. In the most recent poll, Seton Hall received votes for the top 25 and, with a win against UConn would almost certainly be vaulted into one of the coveted top 25 spots. Given that this is a "down year" in the Big East (see Villanova, Pitt and ND, for example) I think that Pirates have a legitimate chance of ending up somewhere between the 5th and 9th spot in the Big East. It's really difficult to tell how good this team is (see debacle at Syracuse and trouncing of WVA -- truth probably lies somewhere between.
TUB: What's your prediction for the game?
SOJ: Seton Hall hasn't bested UConn in how many years? Lets not dwell on numbers... it's been a long, long time. Much like a roulette wheel, I don't like to bet against the streak, but I have to believe that it will, in fact, end at some point, and Seton Hall's senior leadership plus a UConn-less Calhoun and a number of freshman (albeit very talented) might just be enough for the Pirates to get over the hump and best UConn 68-66.