The men’s basketball team will begin their Big East tournament bid Tuesday against USF, a team who gave the Hall one of their two conference victories during the regular season.
The Pirates (14-17, 3-15) will head into Madison Square Garden coming off a loss against Rutgers Friday night, which leaves them on a two game losing streak entering the tournament.
“We have lost games before,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “What I’m most proud of these guys for is bouncing back and playing hard.”
Bouncing back is what the Pirates will have to do with only three days off to get ready for the conference tournament.
“It’s really just the same thing we’ve been doing (to prepare,)” sophomore guard Aaron Cosby said. “It’s a short turnaround and we just have to get ready for another one.”
The last time the Hall faced off against USF, they were able to snap a previous four game skid by the score of 55-47, and they now look to get back on track against the Bulls again.
Junior Fuquan Edwin led the Pirates in the early season matchup, like he has all season, by recording a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Cosby said that the team is looking to play the same way they did in the previous matchup, but be prepared for the Bull’s mindset coming into Tuesday.
“We are in the same position, they are hungry for a win too,” Cosby said.
Besides a few quick runs by the Bulls early, the Pirates were able to keep their opponent at bay without facing a serious offensive threat in the second half.
USF (12-18, 3-15) has a balanced scoring attack led by redshirt junior forward Victor Rudd. The Bulls also ended their regular season on a low, dropping their final game to Cincinnati in overtime.
Last season, USF just edged out the Pirates in a 56-55 game. The Hall leads the all-time series 9-2 against USF.
Both players and Willard expressed that minimizing turnovers is key to the team’s success in order to take control of games.
This Big East Tournament will be the last with the conference in tact before the split next season and guard Brian Oliver recognizes the stage the tournament is on.
“We have to try and go out with a bang in the Garden,” Oliver said. “It’s something that we should have a meeting about and just make sure everyone understands the stakes here; do we want to keep playing, or do we want to go home.”
Tip-off is Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.
Stephanie Vedral can be reached at Stephanie.email@example.com.