- When: January 2, 2010
- Where: Poliforum de Benito Juarez, Cancun, Mexico
- Time and TV: 7:30 pm, ESPN2
The Hokies will face their second significant challenge of the season when
they take on the Seton Hall Pirates in Cancun on Saturday night. Tech failed
their only other major test of the season back in November when they lost to
Temple 61-50 in Philadelphia. They will most likely have to play this game
without leading scorer Malcolm Delaney, who sprained his ankle in Wednesday’s
win against Longwood.
Seton Hall is 9-3 on the season, and they are a very good offensive
basketball team. Their only three losses came in close games against quality
competition. The Pirates lost to Temple (71-65), #6 West Virginia (90-84 in OT)
and #5 Syracuse (80-73). Seton Hall was in each and every game, and they appear
to be a team who will make some noise in the Big East this year.
These teams will be somewhat familiar with each other. The Pirates defeated
the Hokies 77-73 last season in Puerto Rico, when Tech blew a 14-point first
half lead. Malcolm Delaney and A.D. Vassallo combined to score 47 points. With
Vassallo gone and Delaney injured, it could be very difficult for Tech to
produce a lot of points against Seton Hall this time around. They must play good
defense, but that’s easier said that done against a team that features this many
The Pirates average 86.8 points per game, and are easily the best offensive
team the Hokies have faced. Even the power conference teams Tech has played –
Iowa, Georgia and Penn State – are bad offensive teams. This will be the first
true test for Tech’s defensive prowess this season.
Hall Starting Lineup
Seton Hall is led by junior guard Jeremey Hazell, who is averaging 23.3
points per game. Hazell is arguably the best basketball player the Hokies will
face all season. He recently lit up West Virgina for 41 points, and then came
right back to drop 38 on Syracuse. Those are extremely impressive numbers
against anyone, particularly against Top 10 competition like WVU and Syracuse.
Hazell can drive, and he can shoot from the outside. He has already attempted
132 three-pointers this year. He has the green light to shoot the basketball as
much as he wants. Dorenzo Hudson will likely draw the defensive assignment
against Hazell, and it could be his toughest challenge of the season.
While Hazell could be the best wing Tech will face this year, Herb Pope might
be the most complete post player on the Hokies’ schedule. Pope is averaging a
double-double, with 13.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. He is also an
excellent post defender, blocking 29 shots in the first 12 games of the season.
He is one of many outstanding big men in the Big East, and Jeff Allen and Victor
Davila will have to bring it against Pope. Allen did have 17 points and 17
rebounds against Seton Hall last season, so that does inspire some
confidence. Seton Hall surrounds their two stars with a group of solid
role players. Eugene Harvey is a quick, experienced senior point guard. Harvey
is averaging 8.9 points per game. He’s not asked to score a lot, but he’s very
efficient and can get to the rim and finish well. Harvey also averages 5.7
assists per game, and he has an impressive 25 steals in 12 games.
Junior swingman Robert Mitchell is also a capable player, averaging 9.8
points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Mitchell isn’t a good outside shooter, but
he’s good inside the arc and around the basket. He’s a valuable piece of the
puzzle for the Pirates.
The final member of Seton Hall’s starting lineup is big center John Garcia.
Garcia is a typical of many Big East big men. He’s got a lot of size, and he can
outmuscle opponents on the inside. He’s not particularly skilled, but he
averages over six rebounds in just under 19 minutes per game. Garcia and Pope
are an impressive physical combination on the inside.
The Pirates also bring a couple of quality scorers off the bench. Jamel
Jackson (6-3, 202, Jr.) averages 9.4 points per game, and he is a deadly outside
shooter. Jackson is shooting 45.6% from three-point range this year, and the
Hokies can’t afford to let him get loose. Jordan Theodore (6-0, 174, So.) is
also chipping in with 8.8 points in 22.2 minutes per game. Theodore is also
shooting over 40% from three-point range.
Seton Hall has a deadly array of offensive weapons. They’ve got the slashing
wing in Jeremey Hazell, who can light up anyone in the country. They’ve got a
consistent double-double man on the inside in Herb Pope. They’ve got an athletic
wing in Robert Mitchell, and a very quick point guard in Eugene Harvey. To top
it off, they can bring two outstanding shooters off the bench. It’s easy to see
why this is one of the to scoring teams in the country, and one of the best
offensive teams the Hokies will face this year.
This was a game that Tech had a decent enough chance to win, but that was
before Malcolm Delaney got hurt. However, the Hokies will need to score points
to keep up with the talented Pirates, and that’s going to be difficult. Tech has
just one other player who averages double figures, and that’s Jeff Allen, who is
inconsistent. If VT wants a chance to win, somebody is going to have to step up
and prove some points.
This will be our first chance to see freshman point guard Erick Green in
extended minutes against quality competition. Green played well against
Longwood, leading Tech with 15 points, but the Lancers are no Seton Hall. If
Green plays well against the Pirates, then the future looks bright at point
guard. However, in all likelihood he will still need some time to develop
against the big boys.
As a result of Delaney’s injury, the Hokies are a longshot to win this game.
However, if they can somehow pull it off, it will make everyone feel a lot
better about this Tech team once Delaney returns.