I'll admit it- I've seen the Pirates play a couple of time and almost each and every outing, I let a preconceived notion take over that Seton Hall simply was a product of playing a weak non-conference: they needed overtime to best St. Francis of NY and Mercer and single-digit victories over Saint Peter's College and a youthful, but resurgent St. Joe's team. Fifth-year senior Herb Pope's statistics were a similar case- posting routine double-doubles against this competition and held well below his yearly averages, as were the rest of the Pirates during a blowout loss to top-ranked Syracuse.
But since then, all Seton Hall has done is surprise me. A near-20-point win over West Virginia led by Pope's 13 points, 7 rebounds and tied a career-high with 6 blocks as well as some harassing defense on Mountaineer star Kevin Jones that the box score doesn't tell you. The Pirates followed up that victory by upsetting defending Big East champion UConn at home, stifling them with a zone defense and some efficient offense combined with less-than-effective overall defense by the Huskies. Pope chimed in with 15 points and 8 rebounds, while point guard Jordan Theodore led the offense with 19 points and 11 assists, breaking down the UConn zone and man-to-man defense. On the other end of the floor, breakout star Andre Drummond, the Huskies' starting center, was held to just 4 points on five shot attempts, while starting power forward Alex Oriakhi had just two points on two shot attempts; with their distinct size advantage inside, Drummond and Oriakhi should have been difference makers, but for whatever reason, whether it was the Pirates' defense or the missing general Jim Calhoun on the sideline (suspension), UConn did not adjust and the end results was their second loss of the season.