Date: Wednesday, Mar. 4
Time: 7:04 PM EST
Site: Freedom Hall (18,865) in Louisville, KY
Series History: UofL leads 7-4 (4-1 in L’ville, 3-3 @Seton Hall)
Last Meeting: UofL 82, Seton Hall 92 (Jan. 19, 2008 in Newark, NJ)
National Rankings: UL No. 6 AP, ESPN/USAToday (3/2)
Officials: Mike Kitts, John Gaffney, Pat Driscoll
With a win on Senior Night in Freedom Hall the Cardinals will head to Morgantown, West Virginia with a regular season BIG EAST Championship well within reach.
Of course, they will need some help early as UConn will need to fall at Pittsburgh first, but then the Cardinals will look to close out the Mountaineers and avoid both Pitt and UConn until the championship game.
Regardless, the Cardinals are now playing for seeding. I think it is fair to say they have a two seed locked up, but with either a regular season title, or a tournament title, it would be hard to avoid giving them a one seed.
First things first, on to the Pirates of Seton Hall.
Louisville (23-5, 14-2 BIG EAST) has now won five strait and that is in large part thanks to their senior class, who will be recognized Wednesday night. Let me quickly mention Earl Clark and then move on, but be sure to enjoy seeing Earl on the court for the last time as well.
The fact that he will be included in Senior night festivities, I do not like. It’s called SENIOR NIGHT for a reason, you want your day in the sun, fulfill your commitment to the University and play your SENIOR year.
The 2008-2009 version of the Louisville Cardinals features three seniors: Will Scott, Andre McGee and Terrence Williams.
Will Scott transferred in from Cornell following his freshman season and has seen his playing time diminish lately. He saw his first and only minute of action since the DePaul game against Marquette and has played in only 16 games this season.
He has scored 316 career points (115 at Cornell) and gone 74-24 so far in a Cardinal uniform. More importantly Scott learned earlier this season that he was one of only 15 students accepted into the Modern Chinese Studies graduate program at Oxford University in England.
Scott, though a basketball senior, has all but finished his master’s degree in business administration. For more on his Oxford acceptance check out this great article by the Courier-Journal’s Eric Crawford.
Andre McGee is coming off a season-high 16 points in 28 energetic minutes against Marquette. Following an impressive strip at halfcourt, McGee raced towards the basket and threw down a rare two-handed jam for the 5'10″guard.
“I can jump pretty good, but I’m getting old,” McGee said with a laugh. “My legs are getting tired.” A co-captain throughout this season McGee works with fellow undersized guard Preston Knowles to create a 1-2 punch on defense that can be downright suffocating.
While never an offensive threat, McGee can knock down the three ball (35% for his career) and has games like on Sunday where he can light up the scoreboard. McGee has played 117 games as a Cardinal so far, averaging 5.1 points (614 total), 1.8 assists, 1.6 rebounds and nearly a steal (0.9) per contest.
Terrence Williams will be missed on all accounts. His personality, his charisma, his thunderous dunks, and more recently, his sweet jumper. There isn’t much more than can be said about Williams college career at this point that hasn’t already been put out there.
I’d like to remind everyone again to head over to Lowe’s and vote for Twill in the Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award honors the attributes of senior student athletes in four areas: classroom, community, character and competition.
The award program is designed exclusively for college seniors who are utilizing their complete athletic eligibility, remaining committed to their university and pursuing the many rewards that a senior season can bring. Williams had been one of 30 initial candidates. The winner will be announced during the NCAA Final Four.
Williams is 21st in career scoring at UofL with 1,452 points and needs 1 point to reach No. 20 Allen Murphy (1,453 pts., 1972-75).
He is fifth in career three-point goals with 175 and will move up to fourth with 5 more three-pointers (Francisco Garcia, 180)...Twill is fourth in career assists at UofL with 493 and needs five assists to move up to third (DeJuan Wheat, 498).
Terrence is sixth in career steals with 183 and needs 8 steals to move up to fifth (Reece Gaines, 191) and then one more for fourth (Lancaster Gordon, 192). Following the Marquette win Williams had this to say: “We want to go out as champions. I’m excited about the position we’re in. We’ve been through a lot of wars and there’s a lot more basketball to play.”
Seton Hall (15-13, 6-10 BIG EAST) is coming off a 89-78 loss at the hands of Pittsburgh. Even before the Pittsburgh loss, coach Bobby Gonzalez was stumping for his squad’s inclusion in the postseason NIT.
Following the Pirates win at South Florida (although Seton Hall has six BIG EAST victories, all six have come against the bottom feeders of the conference, 12th thru 16th place) Gonzalez had this to say: “We still have some work to do… (But) We belong in the conversation.”
Georgetown is the only of the Pirates six BIG EAST wins against a team with a winning record. That win over the Hoyas was the start of a five game winning streak that propelled the Pirates into postseason contention. Since however they have lost four of five and finish with this game and at Cincinnati to end the regular season.
Sophomore guard Jeremy Hazell, who recently became Seton Hall’s 37th career 1,000 point scorer, is averaging a team-leading 22.7 points while shooting 36.1 % from downtown.
Junior forward Robert “Stix” Mitchell, a transfer from Duquesne who was the Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year in 2006-'07 when UofL asst. coach Richard Pitino was with the Dukes, averages 14.3 points and a team-leading 8.2 rebounds. And junior guard Eugene Harvey puts up 12.2 points per game to go along with a team-high 4.8 assists per contest.
Seton Hall’s loss to No. 1 Pittsburgh dropped the Pirates to 2-8 this season against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top-25. They defeated No. 19 USC on Nov. 20, lost to No. 12 Memphis, fell at No. 13 Syracuse, lost to No. 18 Villanova, lost to No. 13 Notre Dame, lost at No. 4 UConn, defeated No. 12 Georgetown on Jan. 25, lost to No. 1 UConn, lost to No. 10 Marquette and lost to No. 1 Pittsburgh. All-time, Seton Hall is 64-202 (.241) against teams ranked in the AP Top-25.
Seton Hall has done an excellent job of protecting the ball this season. To date, the Pirates rank third in the BIG EAST in turnover margin. They’re averaging only 12.1 per game while forcing 15.1 turnovers per game. Seton Hall is for the third straight year, towards the top of the BIG EAST Conference in steals per game average.
The Pirates are averaging 8.6 steals per game which is second-best in the conference. Seton Hall finished the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons as the BIG EAST steals leader.
Bobby E’s Gamebreaker: POINTS IN THE PAINT!!!
It doesn’t take a basketball genius to see that the Pirates are a small basketball team. Seton Hall doesn’t have a lot of size and tends to have problems on the glass, and looks to mitigate those issues by shooting the ball well and scoring in transition.
Louisville needs to effectively press the Pirates and establish the inside game rather than try and match Seton Hall shot for shot.
Although the Cardinals should still be 10 points better than the Pirates if they take that route, if they let Hazell go off for 29 like he did last year, the Pirates could cost Louisville the BIG EAST Championship for the second year in a row.
Whatever style of play the Cardinals go with they seem to emerge victorious. “We can play fast and we can play slow,” coach Rick Pitino said. “If we’re in a fight with Pittsburgh or Marquette, we can hold our own. If we’re in a running game, we can hold our own.”
The game will be televised on the BIG EAST Network (WHAS-TV locally) with Bob Picozzi (play-by-play) and Mark Adams (color) calling the action. You can also hear the game broadcast on WHAS (840 AM) by Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Bob Valvano (color) or on SIRIUS satellite ch. 127.