Friday, January 30, 2009

Hall Saves Face; Wins 70-67

And the winner is….(drumroll please)…Exit 15W!!! In a battle for the Garden State, Seton Hall beat archrival Rutgers University last night 70-67, settling the age old debate as to which exit is better.

The game last night was a heated battle between two schools whose programs are very much looking to the future. Seton Hall’s freshman Jordan Theodore contributed mightily on the defensive end last night and created plays out of nothing on the offensive side. Even super-hero character Mitts of Stone (Mike Davis) softened up those mitts and added 4 points and 5 rebounds in a mere 12 minutes of play. It looks like those hand incubators are working Mike…keep up the good work! However, Rutgers was able to counter with their own freshman phenoms Mike Rosario and Greg Echenique, both of whom were Rutgers’ go to players towards the end of the game.

Despite the extraordinary play of JT, M.O.S and a resurgent John Garcia, it was Jeremy Hazell who stole the show. Dropping 35 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, Hazell had a mini coming out party on a nationally televised ESPN2 game. Hazell scored the majority of his points in the second half, hitting a couple of 3 point daggers and nailing his foul shots to seal the deal for the Hall.

However, even though Hazell was in the spotlight for most of the night, we at Setonia would be remiss if we failed to mention the hero of the evening – Eugene the Cafeteria Guy! In his first basketball game ever, Eugene received a standing applause from the near sold out crowd, especially from former player Luther Wright who seems to have had his fair share of Eugene’s specialties.

After the big Georgetown win on Sunday, it was important for Seton Hall to come out strong and come away with a victory against Rutgers, who is still hungry for their first BE win. Now, we have won two games in a row, are on a mini winning streak and have a week off before next Thursday’s Blue out at the Pru.

Onnnnward Setonia!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Player Profile: Robert Mitchell

At 6'5'' and 185 lbs, Mitchell may be our most tenacious rebounder! His feel for the game is extraordinary, and he makes the most of his size. Yes, Robert Mitchell is truly one of a kind!! Except, of course, he's not. In fact, "Robert Mitchell" may be the most common name in the Anglo-Saxon tradition.

In honor of Stix and his incredible play of late, we'd like to spotlight Robert Mitchell #845.

From Wikipedia:

Robert Mitchell (14 December 1913 – November 1996) was a British water polo player who competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics. He was part of the British team which finished eighth in the 1936 tournament. He played all seven matches.
Twelve years later at the 1948 Summer Olympics he was a reserve player and did not participate in a match during the 1948 tournament. He was later a member of the Greater London Council (1964-86).

Monday, January 26, 2009

What a Day

Wow...what a day. If Seton Hall had only beaten nationally ranked Georgetown - it would have been enough. If PJ Carlesimo and the rest of the 1989 Final Four team had only given a bone chilling halftime presentation - it would have been enough. And if only the annual Seton Hall Booster Club dinner was held last night - it would have been enough. But for all three events to happen on the same, glorious Sunday...what a day!

After a thrilling upset over the (Hoya) Rocks of Georgetown, the Seton Hall faithful made the cross-town journey to Don Pepe's restaurant for the annual Seton Hall Booster Club dinner. I had the fortune of riding shotgun to the dinner with two Seton Hall gurus - the mastermind of the Rivals website and Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez's younger sister. You can only imagine what a thrill it was for a younger blogger like myself to be in the presence of such greatness.

The restaurant was set up beautifully with 130 people or so patiently awaiting the hero of the day – Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez. In the meantime, we were treated to inspiring, and amusing, speeches from our fearless leader Vince Zingara, Monsignor Sheeran, Fooch and track-star-and-band-leader turned reporter, Jerry Carino. Not even an obnoxious comment from one of the guests regarding our beloved Athletic Director could spoil this magical evening. In fact, the only thing missing was a personal welcome from Gabe Lopez and his family.

After enjoying some fine sangria, the man of the hour, Bobby Gonzalez, finally arrived. Followed closely by his traveling entourage of Dr. Roboto, Skin and the Kazman, Gonzo gave one of his patented, loquacious speeches – making sure to point out repeatedly special guests Mr. Robinson (the original) and Mr. Famous (Amos).

However, one of the highlights of the evening was sitting next to a devoted Setonia follower's 5 year old son and listening to him recite every players' number, watching him reenact Jeremy Hazell and Paul Gause's in-game antics and hearing his esteemed opinion on the future of the sporting industry in the recent economic downturn. It seems as though we have a Bill James in the making on our hands!!

After sharing some wonderful Spanish cuisine with the who’s who of Seton Hall basketball, the evening ended in absolute euphoria – it turns out Bobby Gonzalez wants a (signed) copy of the Seton Hall music video. Not a problem Bobby…coming right up!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nostalgia Triumphs; Hall Edges GTown

With a little help from Doc Brown and his flux capacitor, SHU turned back the clock on Sunday to beat #14 Georgetown at home. After honoring the 1989 national runner-up team at halftime and an inspirational speech from former coach PJ Carlesimo, our beloved Pirates came out with a strong last 20 minutes to steal a victory against one of the country's elite teams.

Now, as you all know at this point, Dave and I were pretty moved by last year's Louisville victory. In fact, it launched our movie career. But in all honesty, this win may have been more impressive. Whereas the UL game was the result of Hazell's individual performance, today was more a team effort. Stix and Garcia passed the ball brilliantly, and JT and Gause created havoc with the press. Even Matt "The Juice" Cajuste got into the act!! Take that, Greg "Monroe Doctrine"!!

On a day when SHU didn't hit a single three pointer, the offense still looked beautifully in sync. And even though GTown missed a number of open shots, our zone was very active.

For one day, it wasn't 2009 anymore. For one day, a gallon of gas was under 90 cents. And Madonna was still a virgin.

For one day, it was 1989. And Seton Hall reclaimed its title as a powerhouse program.

Dave will have more updates from the Booster Club dinner at Don Pepe's... stay tuned!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Dark Knight Returns

Well, it wasn't easy, but someone had to do it. This past weekend, this intrepid investigative journalist returned from Connecticut after attending yet another seamlessly run Booster Club trip. Unfortunately, Ben was unable to attend this most recent excursion so I had to brave the bitter cold, and even fiercer opponent, myself. However, thanks in large part to what one prominent Booster Club member declared the "fellowship of brotherhood," I was able to survive the long, arduous journey despite the conspicuous absence of my co-blogger.

While the outcome of the game against UConn was not what we had hoped for, the experience of traveling with 70 other die-hard fans was more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. After struggling to make it out to New Jersey at 9am, I was graciously picked up from the South Orange train station by a fellow Seton Hall fan and soon to be brother-in-arms. Once we were settled in on our bus, we were confronted with our first major decision of the trip - which movie would we watch on the way to Connecticut and which movie would we watch on the way back?!?! Would "Ironman", the blockbuster story of an arrogant, egotistical weapons tycoon turned superhero be our first film? Or would "Batman: The Dark Knight" prove victorious due to Heath Ledger's magnificent, yet unfortunately post-humus, performance?? Alas, "Ironman" won, putting all speculation to bay.

After sipping on Yoo-Hoo and Famous Amos cookies (an odd homage to my favorite after-school snack, not to mention former Governor Codey's nickname for prized recruit Jarrid Famous' father) and having similar success to Seton Hall at Foxwoods Casino, we arrived to a picturesque Bed and Breakfast in the rolling hills of historic Avon, CT. Our fearless leadership quickly assembled quite the hospitality suite and before we knew it we were watching college basketball and snacking on goldfish...what more could a man possibly hope for? The next morning's brunch featured the booster club raffle which included coveted SHU paraphernalia such as tee-shirts, windbreakers, tank tops and the odd Iowa Buckeyes inspired yellow and black Seton Hall athletic shirt. Much to my chagrin, I failed to come away with the tanktop...oh well, there's always next time.

A brief stop at the XL Center in downtown Hartford (apparently there was some basketball game there) and we were back on the road, sipping juice boxes. So after nearly 48 hours of bus rides, superhero movies, juice boxes, snack food, gambling, stock tips and a little college basketball interspersed, this Dark Knight was ready to return to the place he really belongs - the Seton Hall campus.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pep Talk Not Enough; Caps Lock Falls Short

I really thought we had a chance to beat UConn today. Even though unfortunate circumstances prevented me from joining my brothers in the Booster Club, I felt like I was there in spirit, cheering on the team. Also, I figured Dave would be cheering extra loud in my absence.

It was this confidence that led me to initiate a "chat" with star sophomore Jeremy Hazell before the game.

I wanted to tell him my thoughts about beating the box and 1. I wanted to tell him about potential improvements to his defensive game. I wanted to tell him I loved him. But instead all I could muster was this simple injunction: "play tough play smart." Jeremy, perhaps a bit overzealous with the caps lock button, responded with a screaming "YEA." Sadly, he was just as trigger happy on the court as he was on the keyboard, launching a number of ill-advised three pointers in the first. He did, however, play a very strong second half, prompting me to believe that Coach Gonzo must have delivered a rather caps lock speech in the locker room at halftime.

Well, I guess that's why he's the coach.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pittsnoggle is America

While Seton Hall is now my one and only love in the college basketball world, I must admit it didn't start out that way. It began in a college dorm room, during a different era. Adidas was at the height of its popularity. Radiohead was still on the radio, and Pandora was just a hatchling in the brain of some computer nerd. It began watching Pitts.

My love of the Big East, and more specifically, WVU basketball was something unexpected. But watching this tattoo-covered big man stroke it from deep in an offensive system that brought tears to your eyes during tournament game after tournament game, I couldn't help but feel a part of Mountaineer nation.

Regional affiliation combined with an endless desire to support the underdog has led Dave and myself to the Hall, and we couldn't be happier. But Pittsnoggle will always have a special place in my heart. As the description from the Facebook Group I created in 2006 "More PT for Pitts" reads: "Pittsnoggle remains the greatest American athlete in the last decade."

Read this story and you'll see why:

NY times article on Pitts

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coo Coo Cachoo, Mr. Robinson!!!

The Seton Hall family just welcomed its newest member, 6'5 transfer Jeff Robinson from the University of Memphis. Robinson, a product of one of New Jersey's finest - St. Patrick's High School Academy - will be a critical puzzle piece (the corner?) added to the team for next year and will be playing in front of his friends and family literally a few miles away from where he grew up.

Robinson, an athletic freak of nature, will be expected to rotate in and out with sophmore sensation Jeremy Hazell and recent transfer Robert "Stix" Mitchell. While Mr. Robinson's baseball skills may not quite matchup with Joe Dimaggio's, his basketball skills should hopefully help catapult next year's Seton Hall squad into the top half of the BIG EAST.

The additions of DeAndre Kane, Jeff Robinson, Herb Pope, Keon Lawrence and Big Mel Oliver (anyone else is welcome to join... sign-up sheet is posted outside Walsh) to a team that is only losing one (super)man will force Gonzo to do something he has yet to have the luxury to do: coach a team with depth at every posiiton. We are all looking forward to seeing Mr. Robinson play next year and, dont forget, the Pirates love you more than you will know!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Digger Myself a Hole

Today, SHU travels to play Notre Dame, a team formerly coached by ESPN commentator and Dick Vitale shoe-shiner, Digger Phelps. If you look at the matchup on paper, you'll find that Notre Dame should pose terrible problems for our beloved Pirates. The Irish lead the league in the 3 point percentage, and their assist-turnover ratio is outstanding. Considering that our perimeter defense is very poor, and our only way to win games is to force turnovers, you might logically conclude that this game will be a disaster.

Still, something tells me SHU might get lucky on this one. With Keon now once and for all relegated to his position as team cheerleader and fashionista -- love the untucked slim-fitting white oxford!! -- this team of 8 scholarship players, plus JUICE, should be able to move ahead more determined and focused. Also, it's not like Notre Dame is unbeatable... they've already lost to St. John's, proving that Norm "McDonald" Roberts is not quite the Saturday Night Live "comedy routine" some have made him out to be.

So, what am I saying? Do I actually think SHU might upset Notre Dame today? For some unthinkable reason, yes. Yes, I do.

Player to watch: Theodore. After a few sub-par games, JT picked it up against Villanova. I would love the kid to have a big game, slashing and drawing fouls against Big Luke in the middle.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

To Be Expected

There are several things one can expect when attending a Seton Hall Basketball:

1) Jeremy Hazell will fall down at least once while attemping a 3-pointer.

2) Mike "Stones" Davis will spike the ball out of bounds in an attempt to grab a rebound.

3) "Stix" will try to take a charge on defense.

4) No matter the matchup, Seton Hall will take you on an emotional roller coaster...

...And that is exactly what happened in last night's OT loss to 17th ranked Villanova. In a matchup of superstar guards, Seton Hall (Jeremy Hazell) battled 'Nova (Scottie Reynolds) to the wire, eventually losing 89-85. Hazell's bank 3 pointer (dont worry, I heard him call it) at the end of regulation forced overtime but it wasn't enough to offset "Teflon" Reynolds' 40 point night.

Playing their best game since Puerto Rico, SHU looked once again like a team to be reckoned with in the BIG EAST. With pesky defense and miraculous drives to the basket, Seton Hall went step for step with Nova all night long. John Garcia looked stronger than his last game against WVU and even walk on sensation Matt "Juste" Cajuste contributed some valuable minutes, grabbing 4 boards and robbing Nova twice. For all of you who are wondering, yes, Ben and I are in the process of making "Juste" t-shirts...please be patient.

Additionally, it was good to see some emotion from the fans last night. It was a pleasant reminder that the Hall does play in front of a live crowd, although there were way too many Villanova fans for my taste. Hopefully last night's game will remind our local fan base that we do still have a basketball team and we can still compete with the best in the BIG EAST.

One last note - a big thank you to the mystery man Ben and I met on the PATH train returning to the city last night. A SHU senior and die-hard basketball fan, we asked if he had seen the Seton Hall music video. When we revealed ourselves as the two stars behind the video, his jaw dropped and he continued to praise us for our efforts, telling us how the video has made serious inroads into the Seton Hall student body. Wow...I have never before felt like a celebrity, but now I know how it feels. But dont worry, I'm not going to start jumping on any couches any time soon.

Thanks mystery man! See you at Brick City before the Providence game!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hall Falls to WVU, Fashionably

In some ways, this weekend's loss to West Virginia was pretty much like any other Seton Hall loss. Poor interior rebounding and weak outside defense proved, yet again, a failing combination, as the Hall squad wasted a fantastic offensive performance by Jeremy Hazell. In other ways, however, this game was very unique, with a number of unusual moments.

Rather than recap the action on the court, Dave and I wanted to point out some of the more eye-catching events on Saturday:

Mike Davis: The Next David Beckham

In what could be described as the strangest jumbo-tron player interview of the season, Mike Davis admitted to having a rather unlikely sports hero: fashion-icon and soccer diva, not to mention L.A. Galaxy sensation, David "Bexx" Beckham. Why, you might ask? Because of "his work ethic." Umm... I like soccer as much as the next guy, but that had to be one of the most unexpected responses in the history of America's general distaste for futbol. It's okay though... Davis knocked it out of the park with his answers to the food questions. Doritos and vanilla ice cream with sprinkles -- I hear ya, big guy!!

Flagman Goes For 5

When the team is losing by 8 late in the game, who can they turn to? The fans? The band? The middle cheerleader, who is extremely attractive and flexible? No. They depend on Flagman. And on this day, the man with the 30 foot pole showed up big time. Unfortunately, his record-setting 5 laps still was not enough to rouse the Pirates. Can anyone say half a dozen?!?!?!

The Gonzo Phantom Technical

Sure, say what you want about Coach Gonzo. Occasionally, his mouth gets him in trouble. But against WVU on Saturday, the SHU coach was hit with a technical without real cause. In an innocent move he lifted straight from our Youtube video, coach Gonzo was displeased with a blocking foul call, and responded by putting his hand behind his head, indicating he thought it was a charge. The ref proceeded to then "t" up the coach, again mimicking exactly the video. I guess it's true what they say: life imitates art.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sign of Solidarity

After a tough loss against Syracuse, I decided that Seton Hall needed my help and support now more than ever. Should I write yet another post on Rivals or should I try and write a post on Setonia? Should I drive out to South Orange and see if John Garcia needs any more ice for his leg or should I spend some more time in the gym with Wawa and Mike Davis helping soften their mitts?

No, that simply would not do it. They needed something more. The team needed to know that despite their poor performance against Syracuse and their terrifying upcoming stretch of games against West Virginia, Notre Dame and UConn, Ben and I are with every sense of the word. That's why I did the only thing I thought would show our absolute, unrelenting, borderline obsessive support for the Hall - give myself a pho-hawk.

As sign of solidarity, and as a tribute to Jeremy Hazell, Ben shaved a pho-hawk into my already natural faux-ish hair. There were some inherent complications with the haircut, most notably my lack of hair to begin with. However, we worked with what we had and managed to shave a rather symetrical line into my head...needless to say, I was the hit of my New Year's Party!!

In these difficult times, this is the kind of support we all need to show the Hall. Whether you choose the foo-man choo that Wawa so elegantly sports, the ski jump that Pistol Pete has brought back from the dead or the riskier pho-hawk that Jeremy and yours truly I think it is important for all of us to stand behind this Pirates team. And who knows, maybe one of the players will model their hairstyle after you!!