NEWARK, N.J. - In their final tune up before Big East play, the Seton Hall men's basketball team squeaked out a 60-59 victory over Stony Brook.
The Seawolves, who lost to the Pirates in the opening round of the 2012 NIT, had possession in the final seconds but were closely guarded and missed a last second opportunity to win the game.
“I expected a tough game from these guys,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said. “I was really happy after we got down four we got four or five straight stops. That’s a good basketball team, it’s a good win for us.”
Sparking the offense in the first half was junior Brian Oliver. Oliver had 20 of the Hall’s 38 points in the half on 7-10 shooting, 6-8 from three, but only took one shot in six minutes of play ing the second half due to not feeling well.
“I’ve expected that from (Oliver) all year long,” Willard said. “[Oliver] has had to sacrifice the most because we played him all summer at the 3 spot and with all the injuries we have had with our big guys we’ve asked him to move to the four spot. He does that in practice, it’s just good he did that in a game.”
With Oliver averaging 15.3 points over his last three games, it seems as if Willard has found a go to guy off the bench, just as the non-conference schedule is wrapping up.
“I think I will be a big part of the offense come Big East play,” Oliver said. “My job right now is to come off the bench and give the team what it needs, a scoring guy off the bench and just give the team some energy.”
The win brings the Pirates record to 11-2 when they enter Big East play on Wednesday.
Seton Hall will not need any motivation when they travel to Chicago to face DePaul as the Blue Demons knocked off the Pirates in the final game of the regular season, ending the Hall's NCAA Tournament hopes.
“If playing at DePaul first on the road is not motivation I don’t know what is,” sophomore Brandon Mobley said. “For the guys that played last year, I think that’s just going to make us more hungry to make a statement.”
However, with the injuries that have hit Seton Hall’s frontcourt it will be a challenge. Currently juniors Patrik Auda, Aaron Geramipoor and freshman Kevin Johnson are all out, with Geramipoor and Johnson expected to return in about two weeks.
“I was really happy until Kevin Johnson had surgery,” Willard said about how his team looked. “(Junior) Eugene (Teague) really beats up people offensively, he really wears down guys. When we brought Aaron or Kevin in they did a great defensively being a presence. Our defensive presence when Gene comes out is now, nonexistent.”
Willard now has five days to figure out what he is going to do defensively with his team before the DePaul game Jan. 2.
“We want to go out there and handle business,” junior Fuquan Edwin said. “They did stop our chances of going to the NCAA and were just going to go out there and play like we are now, hard.”
Game time is scheduled for 9 p.m. at Allstate Arena.