When: 12/20 at 4:30
Where: at Seton Hall
The first four games of the season couldn’t have gone any worse for the Seton Hall Pirates. To their defense they put together a tough schedule but they lost their opener to Louisville by 1 and then after beating Iona they dropped 2 straight against URI and Oregon. Harvard grad transfer Bryce Aiken, who has battled injuries his entire career, went down in the opener with a badly sprained ankle. It looked as if things would get even worse when they were getting blasted by Penn St but would rally from a 19-point deficit to beat the Nittany Lions in OT. That was the start of a 4-game win streak for the Pirates, which included then winning their first 2 Big East games.
The Friars haven’t played in 8 days due to Covid within the DePaul and Xavier programs but are coming off their best performance of the year. In a 9-point road win at TCU, the Friars used their defense to create transition offense. David Duke was absolutely unguardable, as he put together his second consecutive 28 point game. the Friars should be feeling good about themselves but have a tough task in their Big East opener against a Seton Hall team that is really rounding into form.
What to Watch For
Slowing Down Mamu
Sandro Mamukelashvili strongly considered leaving Orange for the NBA and Hall fans are sure glad he didn’t. Mamu has carried the Pirates this year averaging 20 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 3.1 apg. Last season Mamu didn’t play in the first game against the Friars due to injury but did play in the return game to the Dunk. Mamu really struggled as he finished with 7 points on 3/8 shooting. Alpha Diallo absolutely worked Mamu shutting him down on defense and went to work against him on offense with a 35 point game. This may be the first game where Friar fans will truly miss Diallo because I’m not sure we have the wings to slow him down. Greg Gantt figures to be the man tasked to slowing Mamu down and while he is a good defender Mamu has a size advantage.
Bryce Aiken’s Health
PC will figure to have the advantage in the backcourt especially considering we aren’t sure what to expect from Aiken. As mentioned earlier he got hurt in their opener and in their last game against Marquette he returned but was pretty ineffective. He only played 16 minutes and finished with three points on 1/6 from the floor.
Will Hall Go Big vs Friars?
Romaro Gill was such a difference maker for the Pirates defensively last season. With him graduating the Pirates figured they play more of a small ball lineup. They we’re bringing 7-2 big man Ike Obiagu off the bench to begin the season but during their hot streak he has gotten the nod to start. In the TCU game when Kevin Samuel got into foul trouble Nate Watson was able to take advantage. When Samuel returned in the second half Watson scored only 6 of his 18 points and wasn’t as efficient. This will be the matchup to watch in this one as it could decide the game.
Hall 73 PC 70
While I do believe PC has the better roster than the Pirates this is a tough opener for PC. The long layoff for the Friars does concern me and Hall is rolling lately.