Pirates ready for second round matchup with Louisville
The Seton Hall men’s basketball team entered Tuesday night’s matchup with the Providence Friars in desperate need of a win. And that’s exactly what they got.
Now, just 24 hours after a 79-47 rout over the Friars, the Hall (20-10, 9-10) finds itself in another important game, this time with the Louisville Cardinals (22-9, 10-8).
“I think this time we’ve got to get everybody involved,” senior Jordan Theodore said. “The last go around we played them, I took too many shots and I didn’t get guys involved enough. I think that’s going to be key for us [Wednesday].”
Theodore had no problems sharing the ball in Tuesday’s victory over Providence, dishing out 13 assists, a new Seton Hall single-game record for the Big East tournament, to go along with his 13 points.
In the Pirates’ last matchup with Louisville back in January, Theodore struggled to do much of anything in the 60-51 Cardinal victory.. He shot 6-of-20 from the field including 0-of-5 from beyond the arc and finished with just three assists and four turnovers.
Seton Hall shot a miserable 27.6 percent from the field in that game, a far cry from the 56 percent the team shot on Tuesday night.
For Theodore, however, their offense will come as long as their defensive effort is strong.
“We need to play great defense,” he said. “Just being able to stop Peyton Siva, because he’s going to try and get in the lane, and Russ Smith. We’ve just got to play team defense and see what happens.”
While Louisville’s resume will likely put them into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid, Wednesday’s game means much more for Seton Hall, whose NCAA hopes still hang in the balance.
Both Theodore and head coach Kevin Willard acknowledge the thought of a possible NCAA Tournament bid are on their minds, but they are more focused at the task at hand: defeating Louisville.
Willard also noted how important the play of his two freshmen, forward Brandon Mobley and guard Aaron Cosby, has been to the team’s success.
Mobley scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down nine boards against Providence, while Cosby nailed two 3-pointers and finished with six points. Cosby entered the game battling the flu and a 103-degree fever which coach Willard said should not affect his availability on Wednesday night.
Senior Herb Pope also played a large part in Tuesday night’s victory, finishing with 16 points (4-of-6) and six rebounds, running a fluid pick-and-roll offense with Theodore all night.
For coach Willard, any time the Hall plays Louisville, it’s a special game. Willard worked as an assistant for 10 years learning under Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, an experience he has cherished over the years.
“Going up against coach Pitino is always a little difficult,” said Willard, who coached for Pitino with Louisville and the Boston Celtics. “I‘m very lucky to have him not only as a mentor, but as a father figure.”
Seton Hall is 5-9 all time against Louisville, dating back to 1948.
Tip-off for Wednesday night’s second-round matchup is set for 7 p.m.