Seton Hall Preview
February 2, 2007
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Princeton with a twist is how Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez describes West Virginia’s motion offense employed by Coach John Beilein.
“Pete Carrill made the two-one-two offense famous and there are a lot of variations of it,” Gonzalez said Thursday afternoon. “Herb Senedeck did it at N.C. State and he’s doing it at Arizona State. I coached against Mike McDonald at Canisius and he ran the same stuff and Georgetown of course with their style.
“I think there are a lot of similarities with their spacing, their cutting and the stuff that they run,” Gonzalez said.
The difference with teams like West Virginia and Georgetown is the athletes they employee within their system, says Gonzalez.
“Where as Georgetown is a very big team, very athletic, they run the Princeton style but they’ve got big guys like Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green. When you go to West Virginia the similarities are there as far as discipline on offense and they’ll back-door you and they can make you look bad.”
The Mountaineers, unlike Georgetown and others, will hoist up the 3 at a high rate.
“West Virginia shoot 30 3s a game and they lead the league with 10 ½ makes or 11 makes a game,” Gonzalez said. “They shoot 38 percent from 3. “The scary thing about them is they have probably a little more skill level and shooting ability than maybe some of the teams that run that style. They can hurt you so many ways.”
Gonzalez got some West Virginia prep earlier this week knocking off Princeton, 79-41 Monday night at Continental Airlines Arena.
Brian Laing scored 17 points and Big East freshman of the year candidate Eugene Harvery scored 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Seton Hall was coming off a disappointing two-overtime loss at Rutgers last Saturday to fall to 3-5 in the league.
Harvey is the latest in a long line of outstanding Seton Hall guards. The 6-foot, 185-pound freshman was one of the top high school point guards in the country last year and has not disappointed so far this season.
He averages 15.7 points and has handed out a team-best 94 assists in 21 games. Harvey scored a season-high 27 points in a win against Penn State earlier this year and has topped 20 points in a game three times so far. He has only failed to reach double figures just twice against Fairleigh Dickinson and Georgetown.
Six-five junior Brian Laing has been just as effective, averaging 16.4 points and grabbing a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game. Laing had a season-high 25 points in the Fairleigh Dickinson win and has reached the 20-point mark five times.
Seton Hall (12-9, 3-5) doesn’t start a very big lineup, 6-7 Stan Gaines is the tallest Pirate starter, but Gonzalez can go to 6-9 freshman John Garcia off the bench. Garcia has seen increasing action since West Virginia killer Grant Billmeier injured his knee against Providence and is lost for the remainder of the season.
Seton Hall also has 6-7 forward Mani Messy available as well.
“I’ve watched Coach Gonzalez’s teams from afar and I have a great deal of respect for the way they play,” said Beilein. “We’ve been trying to put together a plan – if there is a plan – to win at Seton Hall.”
West Virginia (17-4, 6-3) got 17 points from freshman forward Da’Sean Butler in his New Jersey homecoming on Wednesday night to down Rutgers 89-83 at the RAC for the Mountaineers’ first road win of the year. Forward Joe Alexander also threw down 17, while guard Darris Nichols added 16.
“Winning on the road I never had much doubt that it would happen at some point,” said Beilein. “Our teams have always been able to do it at some point but it’s just difficult. Hopefully we’re past that now and they can just go on.”
West Virginia shot a season-best 65 percent against Rutgers including 67 percent from 3-point range (14 of 21). Senior Frank Young leads West Virginia with a 14.3-points-per-game average. Joe Alexander is averaging 12.7 points, while Alex Ruoff and Nichols are averaging 10 apiece.
Nichols played 38 minutes against Rutgers and may get a respite if freshman point guard Joe Mazzulla is able to return from a deep thigh bruise suffered in the Marshall victory two games ago.
“Deep thigh bruises are tough to determine,” Beilein said. “He’s a young kid ad he’s strong and muscular. What you don’t want right now is another shot to that area and then it could be really damaging. We’ve got confidence in our other guys until we feel that he is 100 percent or close to 100 percent. We’re going to wait until he gets healthy and it could be Saturday.”
West Virginia and Seton Hall have played several close games recently. Six of the last seven have been decided by seven points or less. Last year, the Pirates knocked off the No. 11-rated Mountaineers, 71-64 in East Rutherford and two years ago beat West Virginia by three, 66-63, at home.
Tip off is set for noon and the game will be televised by ESPN Plus (Rob Simmelkjaer and Jim Spanarkel). MSN’s radio coverage begins with the Mountaineers Today at 11:30 am.
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