Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Sacrificial Lamb: Defense does it for the Hall

January 5, 2012 Columns No Comments

NEWARK, N.J. – Preparing for ninth-ranked UConn, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard knew the guards would be a priority. Willard decided on defending Shabazz Napier as closely as possible, being defensively disruptive and taking him out of the flow. It all worked to near perfection as the Hall posted a huge 75-63 upset at the Prudential Center.

“We figured (Jeremy) Lamb would get his points,” Willard said. “It was pick your poison so we decided to defend Napier as tough as possible.”

The final line for the sophomore guard showed six points on 2 of 12 shooting (1 for 6 from three) in 35 minutes. Using the Manley formula, Napier came out with a -3. The 2 for 12 shooting coupled with five turnovers were major contributors.

The tempo free breakdown:

Possessions Offensive efficiency
UCONN 67 94
Seton Hall 65 115

Among the Four Factors, turnover rate was the key. At the end of the first half UConn trailed 35-22. They had 13 turnovers in 34 possessions. A painfully poor 38% TO rate. “We didn’t discriminate on turnovers,” UConn coach George Blaney said. “They were well-distributed.” The second half saw only one UConn turnover. The damage though, was done. For the game the Huskies were over the 20 percent cutoff with a 21 percent rate while the Hall showed a commendable 17 percent.

Added notes/observations:

1. Lamb finished with a team-high 19 points but received little help on a consistent basis.

2. Seton Hall used a 2-3 zone with very good results. Kevin Willard is an admitted man-to-man defensive coach but his zone was very effective. It was not just in the defensive results. Teams that do not play much zone often react after the pass. The Hall did it as a good zone team should, they moved and shifted on the pass.

3. The crowd at the Rock was literally electric.

4. Student section cheered and jeered when Blaney received a second half technical. Many of those students were probably too young to remember his days on the sidelines at the Hall.

5. I was impressed with the hustle and take charge play of Seton Hall’s Jordan Theodore. Still, I feel he is more a shoot-first point guard. Regardless, can’t find much fault in his sterling 19-point, 11-assist outing.

6. Herb Pope had another ‘rock’ solid 15 points and eight boards (six offensive) for the Hall.

7. A freshman of note is Brandon Mobley of Seton Hall. The 6-9 forward had a nice eight-point, seven-rebound effort in twenty minutes. Look for his role to keep gaining prominence as the season progresses.

8. The win snapped an eleven game UConn win streak in this series. The last Seton Hall victory was March of 2001.

9. As excited as Willard was of the win, he was equally thrilled to meet Victor Cruz of the NY Giants. Cruz visited the Seton Hall locker room after the game.

10. On the baseline: It was nice to see the Hall players and coaches join the dance team, mascot and cheerleaders for the post game alma mater – and not just ‘join’ but sing. I ran into Seton Hall cheerleading friends Reyna and Christine (they were in one of my stories last season). They told me I made a good decision in passing up St. John’s to cover the Hall.

Ladies, you were 100% correct.

Comment on this Article:

Like Hoopville on Facebook


Your Phil of Hoops

Big East looks the same in some ways and quite different in other ways

November 13, 2015 by


As year three of the new-look Big East tips off, the conference looks the same in a few ways. In other ways, though, it’s not the same, and much is to be determined.

Though a contender, Purdue will need to earn more relevance

October 15, 2015 by


Purdue has the makings of a contender in Big Ten play, but you wouldn’t know it from the conversations about the conference teams. The Boilermakers will have to earn their way to relevance despite their potential to contend.

New challenge ahead for Harvard

October 6, 2015 by


If Harvard’s great run through the Ivy League is to continue in 2015-16, the Crimson will have to get through quite a challenge this time around with a team that looks a little different.

Hoopville Archives

Reader Poll

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 2015-11-12 10:09:26
end_date 2015-11-17 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Who is your pick to win the 2016 national championship?

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed listening to COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT, a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, joined by former St. John's and George Washington head coach Mike Jarvis, former Fairfield head coach Terry O'Connor and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 15, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 22, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 29, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

April 5, 2015 - First hour | Second hour | Third hour

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by


The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.

2015 Hoopville Spring Finale Notes

June 30, 2015 by


We look back at more from the 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale, where some of the championship games were worth the price of admission.

A big championship day for a local program at the Hoopville Spring Finale

June 23, 2015 by


The 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale saw a number of good championship games on Sunday to close it out, and we start our look back with a look at those games.

Player highlights from Mass Elite and Boston Warriors college showcase

June 4, 2015 by


Two big programs, Mass Elite and the Boston Warriors, got together once again on a college showcase for many of their high school players. We look at some who stood out on the evening.

2015 Massachusetts AAU Tournament notes

June 3, 2015 by


Massachusetts held its AAU championship rounds in a few age groups and its entire tournament for the oldest age group this weekend. We take a look at some of Sunday’s action in Foxboro.