Tuesday, December 30, 2008

They Are Who We Thought They Were


Seton Hall traveled north tonight to take on Syracuse in the first BIG EAST game this season but they probably wished they had stayed home. With John Garcia missing his fourth straight game with a knee injury and Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez serving his one game suspension handed down by Czar Quinlan, Seton Hall lost 100-76.

Syracuse proved why they are the 1th ranked team in the country, shooting lights out against the outsized, outmanned Pirates squad. Canadian Mountie Andy Routins shot an unconscious 7-10 from 3pt range, leading a Syracuse team that shot 12-22 from 3. Contrast that with Seton Hall's abysmal 2-27 shooting from the arc and now you can get an idea as to why the Hall lost by 24 points.

Robert Mitchell continued his stellar play grabbing 12 rebounds (5 offensive) and putting up 22 points thereby earning himself Setonia's first Player of the Game award. However, that was the only higlight for the Hall. Brandon "Wawa" Walters almost created his own highlight film with a ridiculous one-handed put back dunk, but like most things tonight for Seton Hall, that came up short as well. In further disappointing news, Jordan Theodore continued his downward spiral as he too often looked lost on the floor, forcing too many bad passes and therefore committing too many turnovers.

Even with John Garcia and Gonzo at the helm, it would have been a tough night. Regardless, I think there were two factors that would have been against the Hall even if we had a fully healthy team. In looking at the box score, one thing sticks out like a sore thumb - Syracuse had 8 players come off the bench, the exact number of scholarship players on our entire team. Wow. On another note, on a cold Monday night the day before New Years in the middle of winter break, Syracuse had 23,000 plus at their game creating a raucus home crowd. Imagine what it would have been like if it was the middle of the semester and the students were there...?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hall Stylin'


With the economic crisis continuing to worsen and war raging in the Middle East, it's clear there's one thing on everybody's mind: fashion. For that reason, Dave and I felt compelled to highlight some of the more creative styles of this year's debonair squad. 

Jeremy Hazell: The landing strip pho-hawk

If you ask a person from middle America, hey, have you ever heard of Newark?? Usually, they respond with "No." Or, depending on your gender, "No'm." Occasionally, you'll meet somebody who has heard of Newark Airport. 

This was no doubt in mind when sophomore shooting stud Jeremy Hazell recently decided to shave both sides of his head, leaving a perfect landing strip of hawk down the middle of his dome. Taking after a star power forward from UConn, the Hazell pho-hawk adds another layer of intensity and makes his screaming during inbounds defense all the more feral. 

Fashion Police Score: 9.4


Brandon Wawa: The blue collar goatee

In America nowadays times are tough. From the union auto worker who just lost his pension, to the toll taker made obsolete because of EZ Pass, the tough guys on the street are the ones feeling it most. 

As a show of solidarity, Wawa -- whose nickname happens to coincide with a struggling convenient store chain along the outskirts of the rust belt -- has decided to sport the manliest of facial hair: the working man's goat. While Wawa can definitely get a little fancy sometimes out on the court, make no mistake... this guy puts the team first. Whether it's coming up with a big rebound or fighting for a deflection, Wawa is a man out there. A man with a goat. 

Fashion Police Score: 8.8


Pete "The Falcon" Peregrin: The boy-band ski-jump

With an apparent homage to the ever-popular Backstreet Boys of the late nineties, Pete has decided to wear his hair with just the right amount of gel to effect a perfectly understated "flip" in the front. Dubbed the "ski-jump" for its parabolic, yet gradual rise in elevation, the flip culminates in an almost static-electric facade of hair above the forehead, making it impossible for even the most nonchalant cheerleader to look away. The "ski-jump" also gives Pete a clear edge on the bench, and helps him stand out from his fellow walk-ons. 

Fashion Police Score: 9.1 


Stay fabulous, SHU!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hall Rolls Over "Fairly"

With chants of "Fairly Ridiculous" reverberating in my skull, Seton Hall played a masterful second half last night to defeat an overmatched Morris county squad, 101 - 70 . Coming off consecutive losses to IUPUI and JMU, the victory was much needed for our morale. (The past few days have been particularly difficult for Dave... He has been hunger striking as a show of support for the team.) Hazell starred with superb shooting for 35 points and Wawa played decently around the basket, flaunting his pillowy mitts during each timeout. Also, Matt "The Juice" Cajuste added some nice moments off the bench. Even the Falcon Peregrin soared!

But while tonight's win was a true team effort, most of my attention was focused on Stix. You see, earlier in the day I had played a tough 5-on-5 pick up game at the recently renovated JCC in West Orange. With my sneakers freshly polished and my game similarly polished, I was ready to ball. Unfortunately, I somehow found myself appointed team power forward... next thing I knew was bodying against this mountain of a man who used his elbows like ginsu knives. Nevertheless, I would not give up. After receiving monthly payment after monthly payment of ginsu knives to my face, I continued to battle. And even though my final "stat line" was not traditionally impressive, I can assure you my "intangibles" were off the charts.  

Stix, we are two peas in a pod, my friend. I feel your pain and I respect your toughness all the more. Also, let me know if you'd ever like to stop by the JCC... I can get you a guest pass. Unless of course you're already a member! Then you should just enter the building regularly and wait for me at the water fountain. 




Monday, December 22, 2008

Popkin, Mitchell Not Enough; Hall Loses 70-64


What was supposed to be a nice peaceful evening listening to the Prodigal Son and Gary Cohen announce an easy Seton Hall victoryA turned into an actual nightmare. The Hall travelled south this evening to take on James Madison University in what should have been a rather winnable OOC game. Instead, James Madison came out swinging and led at one point by 21 points in the first half. Overcoming their second straight sluggish start, the Hall battled back in classic Hall form, overcoming the 21 point deficit with a combination of steals, three point daggers and pressure D. However, it just wasn't enough.

For the third straight game, Seton Hall relied heavily on their "sprint squad," playing with four guards and Robert "Stix Mitchell" as their "center." Stix actually single handedly kept the Hall in the game, putting up 23 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. However, there is no possible way that Stix can be expected to matchup with the likes of Harangody, Thabeet and Onuaku. Mike Davis and Brandon Walters were virtually invisible tonight playing a combined 20 minutes and zero collective minutes in the second half. With John Garcia out for the next few games, Seton Hall is going to have to learn how to play its young big men, especially when BIG EAST play begins. If Davis and Wawa cant grow a pair of mitts soon, it will be a long, long season for the Pirates - even when John Garcia does return.

Gonzo's reluctance to use either of his backup big men forced him to turn to walk-on Matt "O' Say" Cajuste for a few minutes to spell Paul Gause as he fixed his knee brace. If that's not a slap in the face to Wawa or Davis, I'm not sure what is. Maybe it's a wake up call. Maybe it's the extra motivation they need. The point is - in order to compete in the BIG EAST, Gonzo is going to have to call upon either Mike Davis or Brandon Walters, even when John Garcia does return from his inury. Garcia can not be expected to play day in and dayout on two surgically repaired knees against some of the biggest bodies in college basketball. He is going to need help and someone is going to have to step up. Since I'm not eligble to play yet, it's going to have to be someone else....Ben...??

The other thought that Ben and I kept having was how on earth will Seton Hall compete with the top teams in the BIG EAST if they have to scramble to come from behind against the likes of Delaware, Cal Baptist, IUPUI and James Madison? If they can be go down by 21 to James Madison, what will happen when they play Louisivlle? Or UConn? I've heard many say that Seton Hall plays to its competition. Well that may be true, but where is the mental toughness? If they were to play a high school team, would they lose by 40?

In the lone bright spot of the evening, Ben and I were able to add a new nickname to our list. At roughly the nine minute mark of the second half, the Prodigal Son was true to his name when he coined the nickname "Eu-Genius" in reference to one of Eugene Harvey's circus layups. "Eu-Genius..?" No, Dave Popkin, you're a genius.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hall Lands "Big Daddy" Kane

According to MSG reporter and New Jersey-demigod Anthony "Fooch" Fucilli, Seton Hall has received a verbal commitment from DeAndre "Big Daddy" Kane, a shooting guard from the Patterson School in NC. This is the same school that produced SHU's sharpshooter, Jeremy Hazell. Nice work, Fooch!!

At Setonia, we're very happy with this news. Kane had been hotly sought after by a number of big-time Big East programs, including Pitt and UConn, and his stock was on the rise. Based on various scouting reports I've read, he's a scorer and an excellent outside shooter.

If we have one hesitation, Dave and I are a little distraught that Kane comes to SHU with an already established nickname. Why not "Citizen Kane" or "DeAndre 300"? One of our greatest joys is coming up with the nickname ourselves. Still, we will embrace the "Big Daddy" with open arms, and hope that he can play like a "Big" because at 6'2'', he'll probably be playing power forward.

Think we're gonna be sick...


In one of the most stomach-churning college basketball games you will ever see, Seton Hall lost a heartbreaker at home to the visiting IUPUI Jaguars. With almost as many letters in its name as points scored, Indiana University Purdue-University Indianapolis beat the Hall 67-65 on a last second layup that bounced around the rim and then actually stopped atop the iron for seemingly an eternity (2 seconds) before falling in. That last second drive by IUPUI was just the final straw in a game that had many up and downs from the beginning.

After breaking the news of Big Mel and still basking in the success of our music video, Ben and I arrived at the Rock with our supporting cast - Coach Gonzo and the Ref - who were warmly received by fellow Seton Hall fans. It was such a great feeling to introduce Gonzo and the Ref to our friends and extended family... See you next year at Thanksgiving!!

Then, as we started walking to our seats, we looked up to the scoreboard to see that last game's hero, Brandon "Wawa" Walters, was getting the starting nod!! A much deserved start after a valiant effort against St. Peter's last Saturday. Also, we know how hard the kid works, how much he wants to please the coaching staff and how much his teammates root for him - so it was a pleasant surprise to see his efforts being rewarded.

But then, wait, oh no! As the starting lineups were being announced, the PA announcer declared that a "Class B Technical Foul Penalty" had been assessed against Seton Hall resulting in two foul shots to be taken before tipoff. Not exactly the way we wanted to start the game. But oh well, Seton Hall has battled adversity before and this would prove to be no different. We're used to the chips being stacked against us.

As the game progressed and the Hall fell behind due to sluggish play and poor shooting, we felt an obligation to rally the crowd. With most of the student section away on holiday break, Ben and I decided to return to our collegiate roots, harassing the refs with the most outlandish and creative insults possible in the efforts to provide a spark. After all, if the team cant make their shots, why not take our own shots at the refs!? Then, the unthinkable happened. After one of our more ingenious and visually inspiring provocations, two female security guards approached Ben and asked to see his ticket. Now I'm not sure what was more surprising - Ben's ability to sweet talk the guards or the fact that they did not recognize us from our video!?!? Honestly, how could they forget? Maybe they would have recognized him if he had performed some dance moves?? Fortunately for us, Ben was allowed to stay in the arena, provided he return to his actual seat which just so happened was geometrically the furthest one from where he was sitting. 

After a game that felt more like a ride at Six Flags than a basketball game at the Rock, I can safely say this - I am definitely looking forward to a calm evening of listening to the prodigal son Dave Popkin and Gary Cohen announcing the game Monday night as the Hall takes on James Madison. At least this time we know we can't get kicked out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

News on Mel


In all my months as a "blogger-journalist," I've had some difficult stories to report. None, however, has been as personally painful as this. 

At exactly 4:52 pm, I had a Facebook interview with my friend, Melvyn Oliver. For those of you who don't know (stop living under the Rock!) Mel has been waiting on word from the NCAA clearinghouse about his eligibility status.

Here are the contents of that interview:

Ben: What's up man. Did you hear anything yet?

Mel: Yea I did.

Ben: Do I want to know? We need you so bad out there.

Mel: It's over wit gotta wait till next year

Ben: Damn. I'm so sorry.

Mel: i kno. its cool im ready for next year ima bring us a championship

Ben: Keep working hard man.

Mel: i got u

Ben: That's all you can do.

Mel: u already kno

Ben: Okay man... gotta run here. Stay strong. Fans all love you, should know that.

Mel: fa sho

What's in a Name: IUPUI



pal‧in‧drome
–noun

1. a word, line, verse, number, sentence, etc., reading the same backward as forward, as Madam, I'm Adam or Poor Dan is in a droop.


It is once again time for our “What’s in a Name” series. This week’s edition will focus on the visiting Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) Jaguars. While Ben may be the English major, I have decided to take my own approach to analyzing IUPUI's bizarre relationship with the English language.

The visiting Jaguars may have the longest school name in NCAA Division I history. With a whopping 48 letters and 17 vowels, IUPUI is an English teacher’s (wet) dream. Secondly, and the focus of this week’s column, is that IUPUI is one of a few NCAA schools that is a palindrome. A palindrome is “a word, verse, or sentence (as “Able was I ere I saw Elba”) or a number (as 1881) that reads the same backward or forward.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Stemming from the Greek word palindromos, the Greeks used the phrase to capture the backward movement of crabs. I have to imagine that there are at least a few other NCAA schools out there that are palindromes, but IUPUI might be the longest.

The ancient Greeks used the word “palindromos” to refer to the backward movement of crabs, noting that crabs often retraced their steps by moving backwards the same way they move forwards. Having the ability to move backwards and forwards in the same line without altering one’s movements drastically is a lesson that we, as Seton Hall fans, can all learn from. That which may set us backwards – John Garcia’s knee injury, the seemingly everlasting wait for Big Mel and Keon to be cleared, disappointing recruiting news – can just as easily be undone by a few strong steps forward in the very same line.

And that’s all for this edition of “What’s in a Name”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dix-On, Dix-Off

After verbally committing to Seton Hall, Cliff Dixon has announced he is no longer set on coming to South Orange. According to various sources, Dixon felt too "pressured" by the SHU staff. 

Well, wake up, Clifford!! This is Seton Hall we're talking about here! We love the pressure defense more than anyone. Gonzo recruits the same way he coaches: pressure, pressure, and more pressure!!! I would not be shocked at all if Gonzo actually sent Gause and Theodore to Dixon's Hutchinson dorm room to trap him in the bathroom until he slipped a letter of intent under the door. 

But seriously... at Setonia, we're not too worried about this news. Dixon seems like a good player, with good connections to the NBA, but his loss would not be devastating. For right now, we just need to focus on winning games...




Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hall Wins Tough Battle with Saint Peter's; Garcia Postgame Interview


Wow... that got personal. 

In a game that featured multiple technical fouls, a lot of pushing and shoving, and even a couple patented Gonzo "foot stamps," SHU was lucky to escape Jersey City with a win, beating St. Peter's College 60-46. The squad survived a terrible day of shooting (1 of 15 from deep) and Walters gave some quality time off the bench. Showcasing a rare mixture of emphatic claps and power dribbles, Walters stunned the crowd in attendance when he was wrongly assessed a technical foul for allegedly retaliating during a minor altercation with an opposing player. Anyone who knows Wawa knows that he would never do anything... The kid wouldn't lay a mitt on a butterfly. 

The scariest moments of the game, however, came when John Garcia and Jordan Theodore both fell to the floor with apparent knee injuries in the second half, only a couple seconds apart. Both players were re-inserted later in the game briefly, but questions still swirl. That's why I made sure to catch up with John on Facebook after the game. 

Here's the interview:

Ben: hey you feeling okay man?

John: im ok... thanks for asking.

Ben: you're tough man. that was a battle out there today.

John: yea... im jus glad we won.

Ben: me too man. just glad you and JT walked off alive. we were freaking out in the bleachers.

John: yea but don't worry... ima be okay.

Ben: cool man. great news. okay i'm out for now. nice win.

John: iight fam. thanx. be safe.


Perhaps the only thing more comforting than John's reassurance of his well-being is his expressed interest in mine. "Be safe?" Thanx to you John, I think I'll be just fine. 



Friday, December 12, 2008

Dave and Ben Featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition!!


Okay, so that's not exactly true. But here are the actual facts:

Today, our Seton Hall Music Video was posted on the Campus Clicks section of the Sports Illustrated website!! Take that, Amanda Beard!!

Thanks everyone for the continuing support -- apparently Gonzo himself has watched the video, and gives it two "foot stamps."

Here's the link. Check it out!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Californication

While Ben and I love an audience and writing our hilariously informative blog entries, every once in a while we like to give someone else a shot. This is our first Guest Column and is written by none other than my old college roommate. A California man himself, he had a special interest in seeing California Baptist the game. Although he may be a PAC 10 supporter (and TuPac fan…posthumously igniting the TuPac v. Biggie beef), we’ll cut him some slack here as he recounts his first Seton Hall game experience:


Hey avid Setonia blog followers and first time readers alike – Guest from the West here reporting on my first trip to the Prudential Center. At the heart of Newark, the Rock is the product of a city working to make a good hand out of the bad cards it was dealt – a fitting home for the Pirates.

What should have been an easy win against visiting California Baptist turned into a back and forth game, with SHU unable to hold on to multiple leads. The Hall's press defense was effective in creating numerous turnovers but inevitably tired out its players. When unable to force turnovers, they looked a little lost when in their half court offense. Gonzo put in Mike Davis and Brandon "Wawa" Walters when John Garcia got into early foul trouble, but they lacked confidence with the ball down low and were too often getting out-rebounded by smaller opponents. Gonzo played Garcia until he fouled out then ran the court with no center for the final 9 minutes of the game. While this was able to work against the smaller Cal Baptist, I’m not sure this will be so successful against the bigger BIG EAST schools.

But enough of my criticisms. Jeremy Hazell and Eugene Harvey both played well with 25 points each and Paul Gause was sniping steals and forcing turnovers all night long. Robert “Stix” Mitchell was sinking his shots and John Garcia was looking good at center until he got into foul trouble.

SHU has a lot of young players, and according to Dave, a few of the new recruits will contribute a lot of talent to the team when they get through the red tape with the NCAA. So for now, the Hall needs to make do with what they have.

To Gonzo, I say this: Get your team to build confidence. If you get your players to think like winners you will be the coach of a winning team...Oh, also, stop yelling in the ref's ears in the middle of plays, it won't change his mind and will probably piss him off. It will also save your Adam’s apple, you'll thank me later...

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Reviews Are In...Two Thumbs Up!

Well, the critics have spoken. And so far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to everyone who watched our music video on YouTube (all 2,182 views and counting...) and shared it with friends. Ben and I ask that you continue to share it with anyone who might enjoy it.

Of course, as you can imagine, fame has its cost. Ben and I can no longer take the Path train for fear of paparazzi. Even buying eggs has become an adventure. Still, we would not trade it for the world.

Family, friends, Seton Hall students, fellow bloggers, South Orange residents, random internet surfers -- all of them have had very kind things to say about our video. From Ben's "butterfly foxtrot" to my "Sam Cassell testicle dance," the video has a little something for everyone. However, nobody's response has meant more to us than the players themselves.

We facebook messaged the entire team the night before we released the video as part of our "soft" launch. Afraid they would think we were totally deranged, we naturally were hesitant. Their comments, however, confirmed our suspicions... They love us unconditionally.

Here's what just a few of them had to say about the video:

John Garcia: "thanks alot man..that $%*&'s cool as #*&%..thanx 4 the vid

Paul Gause: "yall funny as #@*^ &*^% was crazy nice job fellas"

Melvyn Oliver: "laughing my *&^ off dat ^&%# was crazy funny......good *@#^ fellas

Brian Laing: "lol thats &$*# funny lol"


While they might not be Ebert and Roeper, their praise was way more meaningful. Thanks for watching and for not issuing any restraining orders.


Stay tuned for the sequel...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seton Hall Music Video

The first of hopefully many Setonia Productions...Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SHU Soars to Victory; Everything AOK



Tonight's game against Monmouth was a well deserved "breather." As opposed to the last three victories where Seton Hall was forced to overcome double digit victories and pay Coach Gonzalez's enormous shoe repair bills (after all the stomping around, someone has to pay), SHU was finally able to enjoy an easy victory.

Jeremy Hazell lit it up from the floor, matching a carer high of 32 points while going 10-16 from the floor and 6-9 from 3pt range. Euguene Harvey and Paul Gause helped pace an explosive offense. John Garcia got some much needed rest. Mike Davis and Brandon Walters donned their respective mitts and played a combined 39 minutes. There were electrifying dunks and inspired defense. There were alley-oops, 3 point flops, steals, and guys sprawled everywhere on the floor...basically everything you could ever hope from a Seton Hall game.

Then came the unthinkable. With deafening chants of "We Want Pete" echoing through the Rock, Gonzo succumbed to peer pressure and inserted walk-ons Pete "The Falcon" Peregrin and Matt "O Say" Cajuste into the lineup with roughly five minutes to go. Not having practiced much, and definitely not having played much, the two players were understandably a little unsure of themselves when they were asked to play the remaining five minutes of the game.

However, the walk-ons did not disappoint - rather they did the only think walk-ons should do when playing in garbage time...look to shoot at every opportunity! And shoot they did. Cajuste in particular hoisted up a number of questionable, yet hilarious shots with my favorite being his tribute to former Pirate great Augstine Okosun. As you know from reading this blog, AOK was the first SPOTY (Setonia Player of the Year) winner and Cajuste honored him in the only way possible - throwing up an unbelievable bank 3 pointer!!! In a tribute to Okosun's patented finger roll bank jam, Cajuste lofted up an off balanced, highly contested shot from roughly 28 feet that clearly needed the blessings of the reigning SPOTY award winner. Nice job Cajuste! And Augustine, if you're reading this, I hope all is well and please don't hesitate to drop me a Facebook message.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

News on Melvyn???


For the last few months, Seton Hall fans have held their collective breath. We've all been waiting to hear about the pending eligibility of one of Seton Hall's most prized freshmen: Melvyn "Dancing Bear" Oliver.

Now, Dave and I do not have any inside knowledge on this story. I repeat: we know nothing. Zero. Zilch. HOWEVER, as I was perusing my Facebook friends this evening, as I tend to do on most Monday nights to unwind after a fine meal, I happened to come upon this profile update from Big Mel:

"Melvyn is jus woke up from a good ass nap if u kno me good enough u already kno da situation.....hellll yea."

I'm literally not sure what exactly this means. It seems unlikely that the Bear would be napping this late into the evening, which inclines me to believe that this is all some sort of metaphor.

If that's the case, might this mean what I hope it means?? Might the "situation" have just resolved itself??

(Please, please, please, please...)

Monday, December 1, 2008

John Garcia Exclusive Interview!!

At Setonia, we strongly believe in giving our readers all-access to the Seton Hall players. With that in mind, Dave and I are proud to present our exclusive interview with SHU senior co-captain, John Garcia. I caught up with John after Saturday's game against Delaware...


As you can see, the interview wasn't very long. But the details tell you everything you need to know about Big John.

First of all, the very fact that John even dignified my Facebook IM with a response speaks volumes!! John had just played practically the entire game on two surgically repaired knees, yet he still found the energy to talk to a fan. Outstanding!!

Next, let's consider the response time, shall we?? I sent my Facebook IM to John at exactly 9:12 pm. And how long did it take for him to respond, you might ask? Did he go watch TV for a couple hours? Did he open a different browser window in the hope that I might grow discouraged and ultimately log off? No. Absolutely not. He replied at exactly 9:13 pm. How polite!! How punctual!!

And finally there's the content of the interview. Short and sweet, John said more in one word than others have said during their entire lifetime. In response to my compliment on John's play, John answered with a simple word: "Thanx." In this one word, John communicated everything I wanted to hear. With the perfect mix of gratitude and internet slang, John proved it once and for all: he will always be my friend. 

Well, that's all for our interview with John Garcia. We'll be bringing you more exclusive interviews later in the season. 

 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Setonia Relies on Bench; Hall Wins Again

After today's heart-palpitating win against Delaware, many of the Seton Hall message board bloggers are voicing concern regarding Coach Gonzo's apparent reluctance to utilize his bench. (For the entire second half of today's game, Gonzo only used six players.) Given the grueling schedule Seton Hall faces once Big East play begins, the bloggers would argue, it really is essential that we conserve our energy as much as possible. 

Dave and I could not agree more. For that very reason, we have decided to turn to the reserves for today's post. So, take off those "breakaway" pants, Cajuste!! Because today's post is coming to you live from the nosebleed section. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the "father" of Setonia... my actual father. Take it away, Pops!


Turkey Squelches Fire

So, did the Hall beat Delaware? Yes. Did the Hall crush Delaware? No.

Today's match-up against Delaware promised to be a rout.  (At least, that's what Ben told me on the phone yesterday.) But in the first half, Delaware led all the way. It was fortunate that the Pirates were able to close the gap early in the second half and were able to maintain a slim lead through most of the second half. But this game was not in the bag by any stretch. Which leads one to ask: Did too much turkey for Thanksgiving translate to lethargy on the court? Did the players ingest an excess of tryptophan?

Well, whatever the cause, the Pirates need to rekindle that fire in their belly, because this was not a very pretty game. Without much of a bench, it seems like will and determination will be what leads this team to victory. We will consider this a minor aberration and look forward to more bonfires ahead.

- Ben's Dad

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lesson is Learned; Must Protect the Colonies


On the evening of December 25th, 1776, George Washington led a ragtag Continental Army across the Delaware River and along the shores of New Jersey in a surprise attack on the British just outside of Trenton. Facing treacherous waters, terrible weather conditions and diminishing rations, Washington’s problems were many. His demoralized and exhausted army had been forced to retreat into Pennsylvania of all places, which according to Vice-President Elect Joe Biden is: “an awful, awful, sad place, filled with sad desperate people with no ambition. Nobody, and I mean nobody, but me has ever come out of that place. It's a genetic cesspool.” And if that’s not bad enough, none of them had shoes! Can you imagine – walking through a genetic cesspool without shoes!

Yet, I digress. Washington’s army eventually won another victory, defeating the British in Princeton, NJ. News of this victory spread rapidly, reinvigorating the falling spirit of the Revolution. These victories helped gather colonial support, shocked the British and convinced future allies that the Continental Army was a force to be reckoned with!

Now many of you are probably saying to yourself: “Of course I know the history of Washington crossing the Delaware. I’m American. I’ve seen the painting a thousand times. I was born genetically programmed to know all historic American events.” Of course you were; I do not question your knowledge of American history. Instead, I would like to open your eyes to the significance of this event and how it relates to Seton Hall’s game tomorrow against the Delaware Blue Hens.

Let us start from the beginning. George Washington’s army had been forced to retreat, first from Long Island and then from Manhattan, all the way to Pennsylvania. Sound familiar? Wasn’t Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez in a way “forced to retreat” from Manhattan and cross a river into a neighboring state?

Washington’s army has often been described by historians as a “ragtag” group of soldiers. Does a team of eight scholarship players with limited resources relying on little more than heart, will and determination qualify as a “ragtag” group of players? You bet.

With the British securely holding New Jersey and Rhode Island, they thought the Continental Army could be swatted into oblivion and the Revolution would therefore once and for all be quelled. Isn't that a bit like the arrogance of PAC 10 and ACC powerhouses USC and Virginia Tech as they prepared to play undersized and outnumbered Seton Hall? Maybe.

The news of Washington’s victory over the British in Trenton and Princeton galvanized colonial support and convinced the world that the Continental Army was a force to be reckoned with. Similarly, Seton Hall’s early victories over top notch competition have helped garner support for a program that was all but written off this year. Let us only hope that this support continues for the rest of the season.

In the face of this mini history lesson, we can only hope that we have learned from Kurt Vonnegut’s famous quote, “History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.” History is set to repeat itself and it is the foolish who do not grow wiser from history. Let us hope that after leaving Manhattan, crossing a treacherous river, and guiding an inspired, yet weary, ragtag group of players, Bobby G. has learned his lesson…

Protect your state from those crossing the Delaware!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Tooting" My Own Horn


There are times during life when a man will do anything to appear cool. Most men experience this feeling while trying to impress an attractive "senorita." For me, the circumstances were very different indeed.

Ben and I were at the San Juan airport, replaying the incredible events of the past few days in our respective minds, when the unthinkable happened. We ran into the players in our terminal!! That's right -- the entire Seton Hall basketball team, including Coach Gonzo and AD Quinlan, were going to be joining us on our flight back to Newark!! Umm... jackpot!

We were understandably overcome with emotion. I mean, these guys are our heroes. What were we going to do?? Ben decided to approach SHU shooting guard extraordinaire Jeremy Hazell in the vain hopes of possibly snatching a picture with his O'Reilly Auto Parts First-Team trophy. (A point of inquiry for the San Juan Continental staff: did you also happen to nail Jeremy with the additional carry-on charge??!?!) Meanwhile, I decided to walk over and talk to Mike Davis.

Mike had been up and down in Puerto Rico. He had stepped up huge against USC, grabbing a number of key rebounds, though he seemed to struggle against Memphis and Va Tech.  But say what you want about Mike... the kid is huge. He's an imposing giant with a heart of gold.

While talking to Mike, I realized that I was trying especially hard to act cool. This was to be expected... I mean who wouldn't stumble in the face of greatness?!?! Of course, you can imagine my feeling of crushing disappointment when the following line somehow fell from my lips:

"I don't mean to toot my own horn, Mike, but the fans really helped you guys out during the games."

At first glance, you might say there's nothing wrong with what I said. Upon reflection, however, you will agree that "toot" is probably the single dumbest, most emasculating word in the English language. Stupid Dave!! Stupid!!

In attempting to sound cool, I had actually "tooted" myself in the foot. Kids, let this be a lesson: Always be yourself, and definitely always pack light on domestic flights to avoid usurious additional charges. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mitchell Hurls Up 10 Shots; Yellow Powerade

Well, the Puerto Rico Tournament is now in the books, and what an experience it has been. Dave and I have bonded even more with our fellow Booster Club members, establishing camaraderie that will last forever. We've played pool volleyball together; we've bet on chickens together. Yes, it certainly has been an experience to remember. 

Also, the actual team has done shockingly well!!! Nice job, SHU! After upsetting USC, and then losing a tough game to Memphis, the Hall came out tonight and beat a very deep 
Virginia Tech squad to earn third place overall in the tournament. The trophy you ask? A bronze plantain. 

But tonight was significant for a number of different reasons. Tonight marked the end of Stix Mitchell's two-game suspension -- a penalty that even ESPN broadcaster Hubert Davis basically referred to as "capricious and arbitrary." Good call, Hubert! Or should I say,
 SHUbert!! From way downtown Old San Juan... BANG!

Mitchell was understandably very upset to have missed the last two nationally-televised games, and he certainly stole the show tonight. Not only did Stix knock down a very respectable 15 points on 10 shots... He also puked on camera! Theories abound: Was it the result of a flu? An elbow to the Adam's apple? Pure exhaustion? Who knows. All I know is this: I was sitting about 10 feet away from a serious Powerade swish. 

The refs were clearly concerned; the players obviously confused. But I knew Stix would be just fine. Because this is what Stix is all about. And tonight he earned his nickname in victory.

This is RIVER STIX.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pirate Flag Not Enough as Hall Falls Short, 84-70

After a sensational victory Thursday night against nationally ranked flowerpower USC, Seton Hall returned to the Coliseo to take on the 12th ranked Memphis Tigers.  Riding the emotional roller coaster that was Thursday night, the Hall entered Friday's game high on adrenaline and plantain juice, yet physically battered.  How would Puerto Rico's first son - co-captain John Garcia - hold up against the likes of Sean Taggart and Robert Dozier? Would Paul Gause's surgically repaired left knee survive a tough matchup against Tyrekee Evans?  Even more worrisome - would my left eye survive another grueling session of basketball? (I have a scratched cornea...don't worry, I'll be OK).

The game ran its course the way many expected it to. Memphis proved why it is the 12th ranked team in the country and why it was the runner-up in last year's NCAA championship game. It showed freakish athleticism, the discipline not to turn the ball over against our relentless press and the ability to score from anywhere on the court. However, the game was not a wash. John Garcia held his own against the monsters of Memphis, playing the majority of a bruising and taxing game. Sophmore sharpshooter Jeremy Hazell scored a game high 30 points, draining 3s and attacking the basket with reckless abandon.  Seton Hall's best overall performance probably came from Eugene Harvey.  Nunu slashed and dashed his way to the hoop, regaining his freshman year form and truly playing up to the competition.  Also, Nunu showed a defensive intensity that is definitely fueled by his competitive friendship with freshman guard Jordan Theodore which is great to see.  But by far the most exciting moment of the game came with 21.7 seconds left as Matt "O'Say" Cajuste made his mark on this Seton Hall team and saw his first action as a Pirate.  Cajuste capitalized on his minimal playing time, catching the ball as often as he could after Memphis made their foulshots to end the game. 

As I wrap up this post, I want to leave our readers with some questions that I meant to ask Bobby Gonzalez in our post-game interview...Why did John Garcia play so many minutes in a game that was, for the most part, out of reach?  Will Paul Gause recover from an hip injury towards the end of the second half?  When will Brandon Wawa grow a pair of mitts...?

Until those questions are answered, we must now prepare for the final game of this magnificent tip-off tournament against the Virginia Tech Hokies.  Game time set for 6pm PRT (Puerto Rico Time) on ESPNU.  See y'all there. 

 

      

Thursday, November 20, 2008

They Said It Couldn't Be Done

Well, we're here in Puerto Rico after staying awake for 41 consecutive hours, and we've just witnessed the miraculous. With only 7 scholarship players available, Seton Hall somehow just managed to upset PAC-10 media darling USC, the 19th ranked team in the nation!! 

To recap this game would be impossible. It wasn't just the fact that we were losing by 15 at halftime. It wasn't just the fact that USC had a team double our size. It wasn't even about the plantain omelet that Dave and I shared for lunch, which was phenomenal and very indicative of the local flavor. 

It was something much different entirely. It was about will. It was about heart.

With pressure on Gonzo mounting, he needed this win. And his players responded, giving everything they had. 

John Garcia, who is himself of Puerto Rican descent, played an incredible game, ending with 11 points and 18 "plantains." 

Paul Gause, who fell hard to the ground in the last two minutes of the game, picked himself back up and tossed an assist to Hazell that helped put the game out of reach.

Mike Davis played a very strong second half, and Harvey and Theodore both showed unbelievable intensity, on both ends of the court. Watching this game, it's clear that Theodore pushes Harvey to play to his potential.

At the end of the game, the scoreboard read: Seton Hall 63  USC 61. It was a shocking sight. My fellow Booster Club members and I spent a total of 30 minutes before leaving the arena, in part because the exits were difficult to locate. (All signs were in Spanish.)

We had witnessed history. We had seen a team rise up, and meet adversity head on. When everyone said Seton Hall had no hope, that would be defeated... our players answered defiantly: Yes We Can.

See you later, USC!! 

Memphis, here we come!!!  And Calipari, you better be afraid!! We're still mad about Keith Van Horn.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Half-Man, Half-Durant

On the eve of the Puerto Rico trip, Seton Hall finally got some positive recruiting news. NBA star Kevin Durant's half-brother Cliff Dixon has verbally committed to play at SHU. Currently enrolled at a community college in Kansas, Dixon is 6' 9'', and was recruited out of high school to play at Gonzaga.
(Fooch has the full story.)

As a frequent follower of pretty much every Seton Hall recruiting message
 board to which you can subscribe, this is pretty much a total shock to the system. Complete surprise -- no one saw this coming. In many ways, reminiscent of the Palin selection. 

We can only wonder now: What's next for this team of mavericks??


Monday, November 17, 2008

Zagoraphobia!!


According to Webster's Dictionary, "agoraphobia" is defined as: "a nervous disorder often triggered by the fear of no easy means of escape." We can only surmise then that Gonzo suffered from an unexpected bout of Zagoraphobia when he bumped into popular blogger Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.net under the bleachers of the Prudential Center after the Hall's thrashing of Columbia. With his salt-and-pepper pho-hawk and Wesleyan education, Adam must have cut a terrifying figure, prompting Coach Gonzo to allegedly call out in fear, cursing and screaming. 

(For the details, check out the full story on SNY.) 

In all seriousness though, this could not come at a worse time for the program. After two solid wins, and the prospect of some positive recruiting news, things were starting to look sunny for this San Juan-bound squad. Whether it's Gonzo being Gonzo, or Zags being infantile, who knows... But here's the real question: How in God's name are Dave and I going to wake up in time to meet our fellow Booster Club members at the airport at 5 am on Thursday????!!!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

2-0, Hall Prepares for San Juan Sans Stix


After two decisive victories against unheralded St. Francis and Columbia, the Hall now gets ready for their biggest mental and physical challenge yet: airport security. That's right!! In just a couple days, the team will be flying down to Puerto Rico to get ready to face Pac-10 powerhouse, USC. Better start pouring out the Gatorade, boys!!

Dave and I will of course be right behind them, as our Booster Club flight departs in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Let's just say we're not expecting too much shut-eye on Wednesday night. I can-juste imagine all the questions that will race through my head: Will Big Mel be cleared to suit up in time? Will Gonzo wear a special "tropical" themed suit? How will I look in my swimsuit on the beach without my shirt on? (I've resumed a daily regimen of whey protein shakes.) As you can see, the anticipation is immense.

Also, let's not forget about our walk-ons. Given that Stix is not eligible in the first two Puerto Rico tournament games, it's very important that all our walk-ons be cleared as well. Otherwise, our bench may be looking a little thin. (In addition to lifting, I've also been doing cardio.)

So far, only one of our walk-ons has been deemed eligible to play, and he's already something of a fan favorite. After not even playing high school basketball, Pete Peregrin shocked the world when he was selected to join the team. Thus far, he's been making the most of his opportunity, and has quickly learned the Gonzo offense: Shoot from anywhere, at all times, particularly at the buzzer when your team is leading by 20. Take that, Ivy League!!

Well, that's all for now. We've got to start packing...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today

Tonight, the Seton Hall Men’s Basketball squad opens its regular season at home against the St. Francis Terriers. Tonight’s game is at the Rock and is slated to start at 8pm. Now is the time I would usually go into my little rant about how this is a new season and we can start a-nunu and that this represents a tabula rosa. Fortunately, for you, I will spare you my schpiel and leave you instead with a voicemail left by my colleague and co-blogger Ben while he is on a recruiting trip out in Dallas….

“…Today. Today. What is today? Today is a word. Today is a moment. Today is one instant. Today is the beginning of the rest our lives. Today is the beginning of something new. Hope. Change. Today, is the beginning of…SETON HALL BASKETBALL.”


Get pumped.

O Say Can-Juste; Theodore Having Affair



The other day, Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez made an historic announcement. No, he is not running for president (although he would get my vote any day…imagine that, President-Elect Gonzo?...yet I digress). Rather, Gonzo announced that four walk-ons – assuming they accept the offer and are cleared by the big, bad NCAA Clearinghouse – will be joining this year’s team. Considered an unprecedented move as Gonzo has more than once denounced the concept of walk-ons on his team, these student-athletes will be a great addition to the team and a welcomed sight for sore eyes.

The fine young gentlemen that will hopefully be joining our team are: Matt Cajuste F, Pete Peregin G, Jason Simmons F, and Darnell Gatlin G. While Matt Cajuste has been the most talked about walk-on so far, the other three (who I have already labeled as Earth, Wind and Fire) will prove to spell some of the starters in some of the early non-conference games, join Pope and Neon Keon as tireless cheerleaders on the bench and help increase the intensity and meaning of practice. Also, Cajuste will undoubtedly be relied on heavily during the upcoming Puerto Rico Invitational because “Stix” will be serving his two game suspension. Cajuste and Simmons (who, unfortunately, will have to sit out the first semester) will add some much needed height and Peregin and Gatlin should help Nunu, Gause and Teddy out at the guard slot. All of a sudden we have gone from having a 3 person bench to having a 7 person bench and there can’t be anything wrong with that.

--------------------------------------

In other Pirate News, Jordan Theodore has announced to the world his one, true love. New Jersey. Yes, you heard it right, “The Professor” loves New Jersey, and so do we. From all I know about Teddy, he seems to be the most honest, genuine person in the world. His desire to be a better basketball player, leader and person is addicting. He asks Lebron James questions about his floor leadership, he studies hard in class and treats all his teammates and coaches with respect. I am honored to call him my (Facebook) friend.

In an interview with Steve Popper of the Bergen Record, Theodore supported his decision to join Seton Hall over other elite Division I programs by saying, “… I’m from Jersey. Jersey is my heart. Seton Hall is the heart of Jersey. Seton Hall has always felt like home. I wanted to get back to my city.” If that doesn’t fire you up, I’m not sure what will. So often, as Seton Hall fans, we question and doubt ourselves. That’s the nature of the beast. When recruiting doesn’t go so well, we get down on ourselves and our program. When top ranked high school prospects who grew up playing on our streets leave for Duke, UNC or Memphis, we get down on our state. Theodore goes one step further and remarks, “I love Jersey to death. I don’t think any place in the world is better than New Jersey, than Seton Hall.”

Thank goodness he didn’t go to Rutgers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pocket Full of Celery


As devoted readers of our blog, you are now quite familiar with our obsession for all things Seton Hall Basketball. We love the players, the emotional roller coaster of watching a live game (or listening to it on the radio), the coaching staff and even the cheerleaders. From the ridiculous antics of our mascot down to the formal wear of our temporarily ineligible, yet always stylishly dressed transfers, we find ourselves frequently fixating on the more overlooked nuances of our team.

For example, one of our favorite moments during each home game is Gonzo’s absurdly extravagant entrance to the tune of the Jaws theme song. Another favorite pastime is the singing of the Alma Mater at the end of every game. And what’s better than watching the rest of the players prepare during warm-ups as Jeremy Hazell and Mike Davis compete in half-court shot contests?!?!?

Our intense love for the nuances of the game – especially the warm-ups – led Ben and myself to deliver an urgent Facebook note to senior co-captain, Paul Gause. In order to rile up the fan base, we urged Paul to select “Put On” by Young Jeezy featuring Kanye West as the official warm-up song for the season. Not only is this the hot song that all the kids are listening to these days, but we feel as though the song accurately embodies the spirit of this team.

Conversation with senior co-captain Paul Gause


Perhaps Young Jeezy best captures the flavor of SHU hoops in the following line of his chart-topping single: “Her weave look like some curly fries/Inside fish sticks, outside tartar sauce/Pocket full of celery.” If that doesn’t get Big Mel going, I’m not sure what will.

Well Paul, the fans have spoken and the decision is yours.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Quinlan Approves Sweater Vest


As Dave and I piled into Walsh Gymnasium last night for SHU's exhibition game against (Hoi) Molloy College, we did not know what to expect. Would the new-and-improved Mike Davis throw down a thunderous dunk of a performance against this undersized Division II squad, no doubt imperiling the recently fixed shot clock? Would Gause play like himself again? Would the cheerleaders recognize me?

By the end of the game, there were a lot of positives, but some negatives too. On the good side, Theodore looked excellent at the point, both offensively and defensively. Walters somehow managed to accumulate an astonishing 18 points, as if by divine intervention. And River Styx played arguably the most intense exhibition game in the modern era of college basketball, frequently staring down his curly-haired opponent, Matt Wafula, even as the Hall led by 30 in a game that meant nothing. Don't mess with Sticky!!

On the not-so-good side... Mike Davis fouled out in a mere 14 minutes of play, and did not assert himself much offensively. And while shooters are definitely allowed a bad night here or there, it seems like officials may be starting to catch on to Hazell's penchant for crumbling to the ground after every three point attempt. (By my count, he did it three times... drew the foul call once.) Still, Hazell did look aggressive attacking the rim.

But perhaps the most delightfully unexpected event of the evening was the little post-game one-on-one discussion between Coach Gonzo and the much-maligned athletic director, Joe Quinlan. (See photograph.) Though we weren't close enough to hear what was discussed, is it fair to speculate that this moment of reconciliation might have had a little something to do with the sweater vest??

Though these two might not exactly be Brooks Brothers, this much they can agree on: A black sweater vest over a blue button-down oxford is a classy look when you're giving it to Molloy at home.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Media Credentials Denied; Appeal Filed



As readers of the blog, you know that Dave and I are pretty serious about our love for the Hall. We follow this team religiously, and with true journalistic integrity.

It's for that reason that we decided to apply for media credentials to cover the team more closely at home games. Unfortunately, we just received an email that we've been denied. Fear not, however!! I have just filed an appeal with someone named Matt. Let's keep our fingers crossed...

Here's the email from the Hall:


Thank you for your interest in covering Seton Hall University men's basketball. Unfortunately, your request does not meet our credential criteria and it is not possible to accommodate all requests. You were denied credentials for the following reason:

Due to limited media space, Seton Hall University does not credential independent bloggers.

If you have any questions regarding your credential request, please contact Matt Sweeney at sweenemc@shu.edu.


Here's our "appeal:"


Dear Matt,

A few weeks ago, my fellow blogger Dave and I applied for media credentials to cover Seton Hall basketball. Unfortunately, we were inexplicably denied. In the email we received, we were told: "Seton Hall University does not credential independent bloggers."

I certainly understand that media credentials for Seton Hall must be in very high-demand, and accommodating every request is surely impossible. Really, who in their right mind wouldn't want the opportunity to report on this crazy squad?!?!?! Gonzo?!?! Nunu?!?! I can only imagine the piles and piles of applications.

Ordinarily, I would accept this denial with grace and humility. I must, however, take objection to the phrase "independent bloggers."

Dave and I are in no way independent. In fact, we depend on Seton Hall basketball for everything. Without the Seton Hall team, we'd have no reason to go on. "It's like someone saying I can't have air. I can't live without air, and I can't live without them." (Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, referring to his children.)

Although I've never met you Matt, I can say confidently that you will never meet two people more dependent on anything in your entire life. And now, I'm depending on you.

I kindly and respectfully ask that the powers that be reconsider this decision. Not unlike Herbert Pope, I hope that you will take seriously my "appeal," accounting for all personal hardship I may or may not
have endured.

Sincerely,

Ben and Dave

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Schedule Terrifying; Trick no Treat?



With All Hallow’s Even (or Halloween, as many pagans prefer) literally right around the corner, lots of people are busy preparing themselves for their annual candy binge and dusting off that old pirate costume. Traditionally a Gaelic celebration to mark the end of the harvest season, All Hallow’s Even was a time for ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Fortunately, modern society has progressed (with the advent of the refrigerator and all). Well, the folks at ESPN and USA Today released their own form of slaughter today in their pre-season top 25 poll.

Their top 25 features seven BIG EAST teams, and four ranked in the top 10. And nothing could be more frightening than the stretch of games the Hall will play from January 6-18 when they play Villanova (25), Notre Dame (9) and UConn (2). No matter how many spirits are summoned or livestock slaughtered, this stretch for the Hall could prove disastrous.

While Seton Hall’s out-of-conference schedule is perhaps more equivalent to a “Hannah Montana Halloween Special,” their in-conference schedule is the modern day “Shining.” But while BIG EAST games will no doubt prove tough, especially with our limited roster, Seton Hall’s RPI should be through the roof, once again confirming that the BIG EAST is the best conference in the universe. So, just one big win against a top BIG EAST team (a la Louisville) could bring heaps and heaps of candy that nobody, not even your conniving little brother, can take away (think one of each: M&Ms, Skittles, Mounds bars, Baby Ruth, Snickers, Twizzlers, Twix, Starburts, Kit Kat, Nerds, Airheads, 3 Musketeers, Abba-Zabba, and, my personal favorite, Goo Goo Glusters).

So while I hope everyone enjoys their All Hallow’s Even, just remember this: no matter how many scary costumes (Stix as a witch, Big Mel as an ogre) you might see out there, nothing, and I mean nothing, is scarier than a BIG EAST basketball schedule.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quintessential Quinlan

Well, now it looks like it's final. After announcing the suspension of Stix for the first two games of the Puerto Rico tournament, Seton Hall fans across the world rallied to convince the SHU administration to overturn the decision, but to no avail. Joe Quinlan is apparently standing strong, and the Hall will now be left with 7 players against Pac-10 powerhouse, USC.

To quote Sarah Barricuda: Say it ain't so Joe!! Why must you sabotage our only chances of success?

What I truly cannot stand about Quinlan is that I don't believe he has any such passion for winning. We can talk about this until we're (pirate) blue in the face, but this suspension is simply unjust. One game fine, but the two Puerto Rico games is entirely unfair. It puts us in an impossible position to win those games, and worse yet, it gives the ESPN announcers fodder to discuss when we're losing by 40 in the first half. (Usually, announcers during these tournaments prefer to ramble on about the weather, or indulge in nostalgia-ridden diatribes about their former playing days.)

Just a brief anecdote about our Joe Quinlan, the Hall's illustrious athletic director... Last season, as devoted readers will no doubt recall with glee, Dave and I drove down to West Virginia to watch the Pirates take on the Mountaineers. As we gathered in the hotel lobby the morning before the game, we happened to run into Quinlan. We greeted him warmly, and began telling him about our 8 hour road trip, not to mention our limitless passion for the Hall. He could not have cared less. He stood there just staring at his cell phone, as if it might magically teleport him away from talking to these two crazed Seton Hall fans.

Well, Joe, if that is your real name, and if you are in fact a licensed plumber as you claim, let me tell you something: fans make the game. And passion is the name of that game.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star


All weekend, Dave and I had prepared for WSOU's live interview with SHU Coach Bobby Gonzalez at 7pm on Sunday. We cleared our schedules. We purchased composition books for taking notes. We even dressed up in zoot suits to pay honor to a time when radio was more popular.

Naturally, our hopes and dreams were smashed to pieces when we tuned in only to find out that Gonzo had cancelled at the last moment. Of course! How fitting!! According to WSOU, Gonzo had some recruiting to take care of, so he could not partake in the interview.

Like two grown men left at the altar, Dave and I were understandably hurt and confused. Why would Gonzo do this to us? What possible use would we have for these zoot suits?!?!?

Still, it was not a total loss. With the hosts talking about SHU hoops rather knowledgeably, Dave took copious notes, while I decided to dial in to the broadcast. Although audio problems made it nearly impossible to communicate with the on-air personnel, that did not matter: this was my major media debut. Relishing the spotlight, I rambled on about the intricacies of zone defense, only to later discover that I had been disconnected. I guess it's true what they say... stardom doesn't last forever.

But wait!! There was a silver lining! Perhaps Gonzo had cancelled the interview because he was too busy pursuing a verbal commitment from SHU target recruit Arsalan Kazemi. The Iranian-born Kazemi had visited Seton Hall during the weekend, touring around South Orange during the day, gallivanting through New York City at night.

Alas, this was also too good to be true. According to fellow blogger Adam Zagoria, even though Kazemi had a wonderful time at the Hall, he is simply not yet ready to commit. Although Gonzo pushed him hard to take the plunge -- maybe even trying a little too hard -- Kazemi just did not feel he could commit at this time.

Oh, commitment issues, commitment issues...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Starting a-Nunu


As the Seton Hall Men's Basketball team prepares for its exhibition game on November 7th against Molloy College, one thing is for sure - this is the mark of a new season. Forget about the number of players. Never mind who will play the power 4. And don't even worry about the choice of warm-up song (Ben and I cast our votes for "Put On" by Young Jeezy). Because this much is clear - a new season is a blank slate (tabula rasa). It's a chance to start fresh, atone for past sins, and begin a-Nunu.

On this topic of new beginnings, I would like to highlight one of the more overlooked examples of leadership in the last few months. Eugene "Nunu" Harvey, our extraordinarily skilled, but occasionally ill-tempered point guard, recently gave up his beloved #15 to newcomer Herbert Pope. Nunu, who will be wearing the number #20 this season, was not at all forced to do this, but rather willingly "dished" his jersey to Pope in order prove himself an unselfish leader.

Of course, you might say what does it matter. You might say the number #20 isn't all that different from 15. You might say, they're both multiples of 5. In that case, you'd be correct, but irrelevant. Because a player's number means more than what it says on the back of the jersey. Rather, it means what it says on the front of the jersey, where the number also appears, which always means more, because team comes first. Now that's leadership!!

Just as Nunu is looking to change course and begin fresh, I too will be starting a-Nunu. Many of you probably don't know this, but I will be beginning a new job this coming Monday (have no fear, I would never let it interfere with my ability to maintain this blog). However, as I enter my new position, I can only wonder what the leaders will give up for me? Will the VP of my department give up his beautiful corner office? Will the CEO exchange salaries with me? It shall remain to be seen what sacrifices my new company will make for me, but surely nothing will compare with Eugene Harvey.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Profiles in Courage:" Paul Gause


As the whole world eagerly awaits news of Dancing Bear's eligibility from the NCAA clearinghouse, now seemed like the perfect time for the first installment of my series "Profiles in Courage." (Some of you more devoted readers may remember Dave's series "What's in a Name?" which provided an in-depth analysis of the phrase "Gonzo Journalism.")

We begin our series with a look at the profile of undoubtedly our most courageous SHU Pirate: none other than senior captain, defensive specialist, and personal "friend," Paul Gause.

If you look at Paul Gause's profile on Facebook, you know you're a "friend" of Paul. (That's because only his Facebook "friends" have viewing privileges - keep trying, hackers!!!) I first became "friends" with Paul almost a year ago. Can't remember.. he may have asked me; I may have asked him. But what does that matter! Since then, I've enjoyed perusing his interests, recent photo albums, assorted wall posts on a near daily basis. No doubt he looks at my profile just as regularly!!

For today's "Profiles in Courage," I'd like to consider first Paul's choice of profile picture. Just looking at it, you learn everything you need to know about the Hall's fearless leader. The flag in the background shows he puts his country first. The sunglasses prove once and for all that it's socially badass to wear aviators indoors. And the heightened contrast of the photograph demonstrates his obvious talent for graphic design. (Nice use of the Adobe toolbar functions!!!)

But it's more than that. Given Paul's off-season knee surgery, many of us have been understandably concerned about his health situation. What's his status? you might ask. Well, according to Paul, his status is "maxing and relaxing (12 hours ago.)" Yup, I think Paul's gonna be just fine.

Okay, that's all for now. Congratulations to Paul as this week's "Profile in Courage!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Dancing Bear Tries Not To Break the Eggs


How, many of you are probably wondering, can Ben and Dave possibly trump Friday night's magical initiation into the Seton Hall Booster Club? Well, with the very fortitude and conviction that the Donald himself so often relies on, we managed not only to match Friday night's emotional high, but eclipse it all in one, magical day.

This afternoon, Ben and I attended the Bobby Gonzalez Basketball Coaches Clinic. Intended to be an opportunity for local high school coaches to learn drills and game management from a BIG EAST basketball program, many of our new friends from the Booster Club were also in attendance.

To try to recapture this afternoon's events would be impossible; to explain them would take a lifetime. The following excerpts, though brief in stature, is our attempt to at very least scratch the surface in reliving this afternoon.

-After taking a brief tour of the beautiful Seton Hall campus (not our actual intention, the lady at the gate gave us bad directions), Ben and I arrive at Walsh Gymnasium to be greeted with literal skin from Assistant Coach Derm "Skin" Player. Player's handshake was the first of many as we greeted the other attendees, including Danny, Dick, Vinny, Sal and the rest of the gang.

-Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez emerges from his veritable museum of an office and shakes my hand. Awesome.

-As the players warm up from the conference room that overlooks the basketball court, Ben and I ate bagels, drank coffee and watched the entire Seton Hall-Louisville game on a pull-down projector. Again.

-After devouring several bagels and drinking enough coffee to power a small office, Ben and I head downstairs to the court to watch the team start their practice. I start sweating from the bright lights. Ben thinks he is back in 9th grade form and tries to join the layup line. I have to stop him so he doesn't embarrass himself, and more importantly, me.

-Gonzo starts running offensive and defensive drills. Because Herb Pope had to be in Pittsburgh, the team only had 9 players, which makes scrimmaging rather difficult. Assistant Coach Adubato is forced to step in and play the power forward position. One thing is for sure, Dr. Scott Adubato is no Herb Pope. However, Adubato's strength should not be in question as he quickly showed who was in charge during the "Cowboy Drill" where he took unusual pleasure in knocking players to the floor with an oversized, karate foam blocker.

-As the players huddled up to discuss an upcoming drill, we got a glimpse of one of the many differences with this year's team. Spread across the backside of the players' shorts was the word "family." I can only hope the Booster Club purchases similar shorts for us to wear in Puerto Rico.

-As practice progresses, one thing is definitely sure - Gonzo loves recent transfer Keon Lawrence. Praising Keon whenever he can, Gonzo even went as far as to quote Keon's stats from his Big 12 career. At one point, Gonzo actually yelled out to the team, "Keon once put up 25 at Kansas!!!!" We could only hope that SHU hoops radio announcers Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin were taking notes.

-During the more physically demanding drills, it's clear that big man John Garcia is struggling to keep pace. His surgically repaired knees, along with a bit of a weight problem, combine to make John rather tentative running the court. To quote fellow booster club member Dick, "He looks like he's trying not to break the eggs." With this metaphor, Dick earned official title as booster club Poet Laureate.

-After four hours of practice, Gonzo finally calls it quits. By rough estimate, Robert "Stix" Mitchell has dropped his mouthguard on the floor 14 times but, thankfully, only one shot clock was broken, courtesy of a Mike Davis two-handed bank jam.

-While the players head to the locker room to shower and change, Gonzo holds court and fields questions from those in attendance. As he does so, Big Mel Oliver enters the gym to start warming up for his own practice (since Biggie is still not eligible to play, he can not practice with the team). It's estimated that Big Mel weighs in at a clean 350 but his improved footwork has apparently earned him the nickname of "Dancing Bear," a name that conjures images of the Lenape Native Americans who once ruled the lands of South Orange. We should know more about Dancing Bear's eligibility in the upcoming days.

-In direct response to Ben's question, Gonzo announces that he is holding walk-on tryouts. Ben strongly considers quitting his job and enrolling at Seton Hall.

-After taking a tour of the locker room and pretending to watch game tape, we were led back upstairs to the conference room to eat some of New Jersey's finest pizza with the coaching staff. Gonzo gave us a quick tour of his office which rivals only the Basketball Hall of Fame in memorabilia collected.


For roughly seven hours, Ben and I lived out a dream. We met and talked to the entire coaching staff, players and other fanatics just like us. While I would have liked to live the rest of my life in Walsh Gymnasium, I must say I am proud to be a member of this "family."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Booster Club Dinner


Last night, Dave and I took part in one of the greatest experiences in our young, but surprisingly mature, lives. We attended the annual pre-season Booster Club Dinner.

Held in the dining hall of the VFW of Kenilworth, NJ, the dinner proved a who's who for Seton Hall men's basketball fandom. Although Dave and I were on average 30 years younger than the rest of the crowd, everyone was incredibly welcoming -- guys named Sal, Vince, Danny, and all the rest. For while they may not share our generation-Y sensibilities, specifically our insatiable desire for interactive media as well as our well-documented sense of entitlement in the workplace, they share what is most important: a love for SHU hoops.

In many ways, last night was a homecoming for Dave and myself. An observation made all the more poignant by the fact that our actual high school homecoming is taking place at Newark Academy this morning, to which we are both invited as recent alumni. The question is: Newark may be our alma mater in facto, but isn't Seton Hall our patria de coria?!?!?

Starting at 7:30, the dinner kicked off to a great beginning with introductions and drinks. Shortly thereafter, we were feasting on meatballs and baked penne, accompanied by field greens in an italian dressing. After that, the room divided into two groups -- half of the club would convene at the back of the dining room to discuss logistics for the booster club's upcoming trip to Puerto Rico; the other half would gather and discuss recruiting news.

For Dave and I, this was one of the hardest decisions we've ever faced. Like a mother and daughter crying at Ellis Island, we were briefly separated. Given the fact that I am terrible with planning anything, Dave went to listen in on Puerto Rico. I had the honor of getting the recruiting scoop.

More details to come, but rest assured, this season should prove one wild ride. Also, in speaking with Dave during the ride home in my Volkswagen GTI, with the windows rolled down so as to more quickly evaporate our tears of joy, it sounds like this Puerto Rico trip will be life-changing. Forget about the fact that the Hall may face match ups against USC and Memphis. There's going to be a pig roast!! Also, a rainforest tour!! Lastly, we're staying in the San Juan Ritz Carleton, which houses a casino on the ground floor!!

Well, that's all for now. Expect an update on Sunday night, after Dave and I attend the Bobby Gonzales basketball clinic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Judge Dismisses Glover Lawsuit

From the International Herald Tribune:

PROVIDENCE, R.I.: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the NCAA and Big East Conference filed by a former Seton Hall basketball recruit who was declared ineligible.

Michael Glover, a 6-foot-6 forward from the Bronx, was ruled ineligible last fall after enrolling at Seton Hall, a member of the Providence-based conference.

He argued in a lawsuit in August that the NCAA never gave a reason for invalidating his entire senior year transcript from American Christian Academy in Pennsylvania.

The NCAA argued that the Rhode Island federal court system had no jurisdiction over the case, and the Big East argued that it didn't belong in the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres dismissed both defendants from the lawsuit after hearing arguments Tuesday.


Stay tuned for more analysis and examination as Ben and I dig deeper into this issue and consult with resident attorney.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Gonzo Gamble


For those of you who know Dave and I well, you know us to be men of chance. Every now and then, we love a good spin of the wheel. A quick shuffle of the cards. A Thursday night game of Yahtzee, for money.

Well, considering all the uncertainty surrounding this season’s roster, Dave and I have decided to post odds on some of the many Seton Hall players in question. So, I hope you’re listening Vegas!! And also, Macau!!

Place your bets! Place your bets!

Melvyn Oliver 2:1

Given that it is now October and the NCAA (Publisher’s?) Clearinghouse still has not mailed the winning envelope to Gonzales’ grandmother, we’re estimating there’s a 50/50 chance that Big Papi suits up for the Hall. The fact that no answer has come yet is not a very encouraging sign, and with each day, the odds seem to get worse. Still, you have to think that the NCAA might take some pity on Oliver and the Hall, given the recent Glover scandal. The bottom line is this, though: unless Oliver can lose an additional 20 pounds, his effectiveness will be limited at best. But with only 8 players on the current roster, the more body on the bench, the better.

Mike Glover 7:2

A real long-shot only a couple weeks ago, word is that there is a chance Glover might be granted the opportunity to begin practicing with the squad. After having taken his case to court, Glover has earned the respect of his peers as a modern day Atticus Finch, fighting for justice after his transcript was ruled ineligible without cause. At 6’6’’, Glover does not fill our void at power forward, but he is an unbelievable athlete who add a tremendous emotional lift to this team, not to mention one of the most revered American literary figures.

Herb Pope 5:1

“Pope 5:1” looks a lot like a bible verse, and it may take some serious praying for this 80% underdog. Although Herb has definitely endured more hardship at his age then most men endure in a lifetime, we’re doubtful that his waiver will be accepted by the NCAA. His numerous missteps at New Mexico have tarnished his reputation a bit, and it’s more likely that the powers that be will have him sit out a season. It actually may be the best thing for him. But let this be known: Pope is a sick, sick talent around the hoop.

Keon Lawrence (Confusing)

Here’s why: there’s actually a very good chance that Lawrence will have his hardship waiver approved. Originally from the Newark area, Keon has suffered a number of personal issues that make his coming home to NJ very plausible. However, his waiver would only permit him to become eligible midway through the season. Too many variables in this one right now – go find another table.

Matt Cajuste 10:1

Since everyone knows 8 players are not enough, there has been a lot of discussion lately about the possibility of a walk-on. The best candidate for this position was Matt Cajuste. A big kid from Long Island, Matt was a decent prospect coming out of high school, although not Big East caliber. Unfortunately, word is out that Matt is not interested in joining the team, focusing instead on his studies, particularly mathematics and deductive logic. Matt, I applaud your interest my friend, but let me ask you this: are the two mutually exclusive?!?!?

Me 20:1

Sure, I may not officially be enrolled at Seton Hall, but I do have 4 years of eligibility remaining. Also, you would not find someone more dedicated then me. What I lack in athleticism I would make up for with hustle. What I don’t have in terms of locker room experience I would overcompensate for with awkward social maneuvers around the players. And last but not least, I can stroke it, no joke. From the top of the key, I am lights out. Also, in all my years of sports, I have only one recurring injury: fractured pinky.

Dave 45:1

Although Dave was the superior athlete during our high school days, I can assure you I am a better basketball player. On how many occasions have I observed a pick-up game in the park, commenting to Dave, “Let’s get next,” only to see him recoil in disapproval? How many times, when watching ESPN 2, have I reminded him of the former WNBA tagline “We got next,” only for neither of us to know how to break the ensuing silence? Yeah, I guess it’s true… some guys have a love for the game. But players have a love to play it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stix and Stones

After months of verbal attacks against Gonzo and his staff, Seton Hall athletic director Joe Q has decided to take this feud to the next level. He has chosen to suspend recent transfer Robert "Stix" Mitchell for the first two games of the Puerto Rico tournament, which Dave and I will be attending.

Now you may ask yourself, what did good ole Stix do to deserve such punishment? Well, as NCAA transfer regulations clearly stipulate, no student athlete may travel with the team while serving the mandatory one-year rest period.

Tragically, when the Hall was playing Georgetown last year, Stix allegedly found himself abandoned by a "friend," and he was left without a ride for the trip back. In a move perhaps best epitomized by the physical comedy of Jim Carrey in "The Mask," Stix then attempted to sneak onto the team bus for the trip back. Unfortunately, he was caught, and the mask with all its magical powers was tossed into a nearby river. (The Potomac?!?!?)

There are a lot of angles to this story. First off, why did assistant coach Derm "a.k.a. skin" Player allow him to board? Secondly, and more importantly, why did Joe Q suspend Stix for these two games?!?!!? Without a doubt, this kind of infraction warrants a punishment, but these aren't even the first two games of the season! Also, these are two of the only games that Seton Hall will have broadcast on ESPN this year -- why deny Stix such exposure, and why embarrass Seton Hall with a roster of 7!!! It's all so unfair.

But perhaps this is the most frustrating element of the story: I was there. I could have helped.

Stix, why didn't you call me?!?! I remember the Georgetown game well... I was "crashing" at my aunt and uncle's house in Alexandria, VA. They would have kindly extended their home to you. We would have fed you. Clothed you. The next morning, we could have driven back to South Orange together, laughing the whole way. You could have controlled the radio. It would have been epic.


I will end with a quote:

"Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice."

- Baruch Spinoza

Friday, September 19, 2008

And Then There Were Eight


There are exactly 35 days until Seton Hall tips off its season against Molloy College at Walsh Gymnasium. That means that there are exactly 35 days for Coach Bobby Gonzalez to add a few more players to this year's roster.

Academic ineligibility, potential injury and court time all threaten the Hall's capability to field a competitive - and well rested - team this year. With transfer Jamel "JJ" Jackson recently ruled academically ineligible, there are now only eight players who are NCAA eligible to play this year.

Eight - the first number to be the aliquot sum of two numbers other than itself - is not enough players to field a competitive basektball squad. Eight - linguistically derived from the Middle English eighte - means that Brandon "WaWa" Walters instantly becomes the backup power forward. Eight - is ridiculous.

The very same problems that slowed the Hall down last year threaten to pose the same problems this year. An NCAA Division I basketball program can not survive with only 8 players. That would be like a baseball team trying to last a whole season with one pitcher. It just doesnt happen.

I know, I know what you're thinking. Big Melvyn Oliver might still be declared eligible to play, which brings the number of able bodies to a whopping nine players. But the fact that we have not heard one way or another is not the most positive sign. And yes, Neon Keon and the Holy See might still be granted their hardship waiver, a long shot but obviuosly something worth praying for. But why should we, as fans, have to pray for miracles and hope that our players squeak by the NCAA Clearinhouse and be allowed to play. Why cant more people by like Jordan Theodore - a modern day Moses, an academic scholar and a man amongst boys?

Why?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Glover Takes it to the Man!


In an unprecedented move, Michael Glover has filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the BIG EAST Conference after being declared, once again, ineligible to play basketball. Glover, who was one of the top power forwards to come out of the 2007 class, had high hopes to finally suit up for the Pirates after sitting out his freshman year.

After being ruled academically ineligible at the start of the 2007-2008 season, Glover enrolled at Seton Hall even though he was not granted a scholarship. While his Econ and English scores might not be that great, Political Science definitely looks like a potential major as Glover as skillfully maneuvered his way up the ranks of the American judicial system (Big Ups Ms. Newman!)

Also, Glover just so happens to file his lawsuit on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech - what a perfect time indeed to challenge this nation’s morals and beliefs.

Stay tuned for any low speed vehicle chases a la OJ and for further news on the Neon Keon front.