NEW YORK -- Seton Hall had Syracuse on the ropes in the second half of the final second round game in the Big East Tournament. The Orange built a sizable lead in the first half, but squandered it away to a pesky Pirates team.
With the 'Cuse up just two, the Hall angered Syracuse.
Really bad idea.
In fact, a terrible idea.
After an Arinze Onuaku block, fellow Seton Hall big man John Garcia got in the face of Onuaku. That's about 500 pounds of solid muscle screaming at each. Both sides needed to restrain several players or else they may have torn their heads off.
One team took this momentum and ran with it (literally and figuratively), but the other didn't cower away...at first. It took ten seconds for Seton Hall to set off the Orange again. Brandon Waters intentionally fouled SU's glue guy, Kristof Ongenaet.
Another scrum ensued, this time Eric Devendorf and Eugene Harvey received double-technicals for a little shoving match. The Pirates' actions played right into the 'Cuse's hands.
"Altercations like that always bring a team together," Jonny Flynn said.
"I think the two altercations we got in really pushed the button for our team to go out there and be aggressive and really stay focused in the game to put it to Seton Hall."
Put it to the Pirates they did.
SU scored a mind-boggling 28 points in a mere six minutes. It was obvious Seton Hall's attempt to get the 'Cuse off task failed miserably.
"We knew that's what they wanted to do," Flynn said, "To agitate us. They aren't going to knock us off like that."
The scrums clearly knocked the Orange's most explosive personality onto his game. Eric Devendorf had three points before the set of double-technicals. Devendorf finished the game with 19 points.
"Eric is a great player, great shooter, and he feeds off emotion and he really took us," Flynn said.
But Devendorf's actions didn't please everyone and he knows it.
"When they announced I got a technical, I heard the crowd cheer loudly," Devendorf said, "I know people don't like me."
The crowd's displeasure of "E" as he likes to go by, doesn't stop him from pumping his chest, emphatically screaming, and gesturing to his student section.
During the game telecast, ESPN's announcing crew discussed how much emotion is going too far.
Devendorf once again had an explanation for his behavior, "People may not like it, but this is basketball. This is what I do. This is what I care about."
While the red-shirt junior guard has had some questionable behavior off the court in the past, he's right when it comes to these actions on the court. Devendorf plays because of his passion to play and win.
That's what college basketball is about. Devendorf's emotion was targeted towards his teammates and his fans. He didn't get up into Seton Hall's face after the storm of three-pointers he drilled.
The Orange need to play with that same emotion Thursday night in the quarterfinals against Hasheem Thabeet and the rest of the UConn Huskies. Sophomore Jonny Flynn says he is well aware of what Thabeet will try to do against the 'Cuse.
"He's going to try to do what Seton Hall did today," Flynn said. The Orange knows the 7'3'' center is going to talk trash and verbally make his presence known.
"We can't back down to Thabeet. We cannot let him intimidate us. We have to go right at him."
Jim Boeheim's club cannot "go right at him" like it did last time around. A high screen on every possession setting up a Devendorf or Flynn drive into Thabeet isn't going to beat the Huskies. SU needs to be smart in the paint. Quick passes around Thabeet to alert and ready hands will beat Thabeet.
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