NYC Metro Ranking & Report: Seton Hall Wins a Pair
Team of the Week: Sacred Heart
Results: W 87-82 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, W 67=59 @ Mount St. Mary’s
Now I know what you’re probably thinking: didn’t Seton Hall win two league games as well last week? Yes, they did, but that only made them 2-3 in Big East play. Sacred Heart, thanks to their two wins, now sits only a half-game behind Quinnipiac in the Northeast Conference standings, somewhat unexpected due to their early-season struggles. In the home win over FDU, four Pioneers reached double figures in scoring (led by Ryon Howard with 20) and Sacred Heart scored twenty-five points off of FDU turnovers. So even though Sean Baptiste and Manny Ubilla combined to score sixty-one points, Sacred Heart did just enough to escape with the win.
Two days later, the Pioneers won at Mount St. Mary’s thanks to a game-clinching 16-5 run late in the second half. Forward Brice Brooks led the team in scoring with nineteen, and their defense made the trip as well, holding the Mountaineers to 37.5% shooting from the field. So even with the loss of Joey Henley before the season began, Sacred Heart has a good shot at winning what has become a wide-open conference. Their games this week are both home contests, LIU (who blew out Wagner last week) on Thursday and Quinnipiac on Saturday.
Player of the Week: Jeremy Hazell (Seton Hall)
Numbers for the Week: 22 points, 4 steals vs. South Florida; 29 points vs. Louisville
For the second straight week, a freshman sharpshooter gets the honor. Hazell, in two wins for the Pirates, went 13-for-25 from behind the arc and scored a combined fifty-one points. While the 6-5 freshman from the Bronx may not have the most impressive numbers in other areas (0.7 assists per game, 2.5 rebounds per game), Hazell can flat-out score from just about anywhere on the floor. While the win over the Bulls was rather routine, Saturday night Hazell (and Brian Laing) help the Pirates overcome a fourteen-point hole in the second half to move to 2-3 in Big East play. With Paul Gause out due to a broken hand, Bobby Gonzalez will need everything Hazell can give him and then maybe a little more if Seton Hall is to have a shot at getting to MSG. This past week was definitely a good start for Hazell.
Have a pick for player or team of the week? Feel free to email your choice to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Other Observations on the week that was
- Fairleigh Dickinson may have one of the better backcourt tandems in the area in Manny Ubilla and Sean Baptiste.
Even though the Knights lost by 22 at Central Connecticut State on Saturday, this should not take away from the seasons being had by the senior Ubilla and sophomore Baptiste. Ubilla currently leads the NEC in scoring, averaging 21.4 points per game, which is an improvement of almost ten points per game from last season (11.9 ppg). Baptiste has stepped into a larger role this season, averaging 18.8 points per game after only putting up 4.6 in 2006-07. But the Knights are still 1-5 in the NEC and 5-11 overall, thanks in large part to their defense, which is dead last in the conference (80.4 points allowed per game). If the Knights can pick it up on the defensive end of the floor, then these two should have more opportunities to get FDU into the winner’s circle.
- Antoine Agudio has his worst outing of the season…and Hofstra still gets a road win.
If you thought that Hofstra would be able to win a game this year with Antoine Agudio scoring six points, raise your hand. Yeah, I didn’t think they could either. But they got the job done on Saturday, winning 67-58 at Drexel thanks to 21 from Charles Jenkins, 17 from Dane Johnson and 15 from Greg Johnson.
But it wouldn’t be fair to talk about the Pride’s second CAA win without mentioning the improved defensive effort, holding the Dragons to 38.2% shooting from the field and out-rebounding Drexel 33-26. All in all, this is a good confidence boost for some guys who didn’t look to be eager to step up offensively at times. And it comes just in time, as first-place VCU will visit Hofstra Wednesday night.
- Iona blows out Fairfield to move to 3-4 in the MAAC.
A good win for the Gaels on Friday night, one that also managed to split the MAAC standings in half. Another positive was Milan Prodanovic snapping out of a shooting slump to lead the team with twenty-one points. Dexter Gray (fourteen points) and Rashon Dwight (eleven) also reached double figures in a game that saw Fairfield turn the ball over twenty times and head coach Ed Cooley get ejected.
Monday night brings Iona a serious test: at Rider, featuring preseason MAAC Player of the Year Jason Thompson. But you get the feeling that this Iona team can give people fits throughout the remainder of the regular season as well as in the MAAC Tournament due to their skill level.
- Army holds Holy Cross to thirty-nine points on Wednesday, but can’t maintain that momentum on Sunday.
It wouldn’t be fair to not mention that Holy Cross was without point guard Pat Doherty for all but one minute of the game due to an Achilles injury, but for Army to go on the road and force twenty-two turnovers is quite the achievement. But the difference between teams who compete for conference titles and those who stay in the middle of the pack is one thing: consistency.
Following up arguably their best effort of the season with a 21-point second half in a 57-52 home loss to Lehigh isn’t the best way to throw your hat into the Patriot League race. Next up is American, who is currently 2-1 in the Patriot League and also has a road win over Maryland to its credit. If the Knights are to have any designs on competing with the likes of Bucknell and Lafayette for the crown, they need to win this one.
Games to keep and eye on this week
- Iona @ Rider (Monday, 7 PM ESPN Full Court)
This is a good chance to see how well the Gaels match up with one of the MAAC’s better teams. Jason Thompson is an outstanding post player and the league’s best NBA prospect as well, but be sure to keep an eye on his younger brother Ryan. Ryan leads the Broncs in assists and is second to his older brother in both scoring rebounding and is probably one of the conference’s most versatile players. Iona has a number of options as well, which should make for a good game.
- Niagara @ Marist (Monday, 7:30 PM)
A good night on the MAAC schedule, and this game is the most important when it comes to the conference standings. Thanks to their upset loss at Canisius on Friday night, the Purple Eagles (5-2) arrive in Poughkeepsie needing a win to stay within shouting distance of Siena (6-1) for first place. Marist (5-2) finds themselves in the same predicament, but given the nature of this league it’s premature to refer to this game as an “elimination game”. But a loss won’t help either team’s chances in regards to winning the regular season title.
- #16 Pittsburgh @ St. John’s (Wednesday, 7 PM ESPN Full Court)
Thanks to their loss at Cincinnati on Saturday, the Panthers will not be ranked sixteenth when they show up at Madison Square Garden. But this is still a good opportunity for a young St. John’s team to get a big win after coming close in their last two games, losses to DePaul and West Virginia. With Seton Hall being the only Big East team with two wins, the 1-4 Red Storm need a win to keep within shouting distance of the logjam of schools with three league wins. If not, they may find themselves shut out of the Big East Tournament once again before it includes all sixteen teams in 2008-09.
- Seton Hall @ Providence (Thursday 7 PM ESPN2)
If you like watching guards fire away from just about anywhere inside of thirty feet then this is the game for you. The Friars lit up Connecticut last Thursday to the tune of fourteen three pointers, and are more than capable of a repeat performance at home. Seton Hall also has some capable shooters, but they’ll need to have an answer for the versatile Geoff McDermott. Providence may not be a physical team in the traditional sense, but they’ve got enough bodies down low (McDermott, Randall Hanke, Jonathan Kale and if needed, Ray Hall) to test the Pirates lack of size. Rest assured both teams would like to run, making for an entertaining contest.
- Fairleigh Dickinson @ Monmouth (Friday, 7 PM)
In a league that only invites its top eight to the postseason tournament, this is an extremely important game for both the Knights and Hawks. While FDU is the league’s worst defensive team, in Monmouth they take on the worst offense in the NEC, averaging a paltry 56.4 points per game. Something’s got to give in this one, and it’s a game that could set the tone for the remainder of the year for both teams.
- Yale @ Brown (Saturday, 3 PM)
These two Ivy League rivals went to overtime on Friday, with the home-standing Bulldogs getting the 66-63 win. Now comes the rematch in Providence, and Yale needs to take better care of the basketball if they are to leave with a win (nineteen turnovers on Friday). Ross Morin dropped twenty-four on the Bears, who are led by one of the best guards in the Ivy, Mark McAndrew. If anything, this is the last opportunity we’ll have to see McAndrew and Eric Flato face off on the court, so expect another tight contest.
Updated Rankings (last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. Seton Hall (4)
2. Marist (2)
3. Yale (6)
4. Wagner (1)
5. Sacred Heart (9)
6. Army (5)
7. St. John’s (3)
8. Fordham (8)
9. Long Island (10)
10. Columbia (7)
11. Iona (13)
12. Fairfield (11)
13. Fairleigh Dickinson (12)
14. Manhattan (14)
15. Hofstra (18)
16. St. Francis-NY (15)
17. Stony Brook (16)
18. St. Peter’s (17)
19. NJIT (19)