Our #10 ranked Louisville Cardinals (21-5, 9-4 Big East) have won four games out of their last five and will return to the KFC Yum center on Saturday afternoon to face the Seton Hall Pirates (13-14, 2-12 Big East). The Pirates are struggling in the grueling Big East and have lost their last 8 games. The Cards lead the all-time series with Seton Hall 12-5. The Cards beat the Pirates back on January 9th at their place 73-58.
This is coach Kevin Willard’s 3rd season at the helm at Seton Hall. Last season he led the Pirates to a 20 win season for only the third time in the last 19 years and they got their first NIT win since 1956. This season hasn’t been so kind to coach Willard and the Pirates. They had some pretty big obstacles to overcome heading into this season without a true senior on the roster and losing their best two players from last season in Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope. But add in all the injuries that have piled up and it really has turned into a tough year for the Pirates. They recently lost sophomore Brandon Mobley (9.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.7 apg) with a season-ending shoulder surgery, junior Patrik Auda (7.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.2 apg) is out for the season with a broken foot, and both junior Aaron Geramipoor and junior Brian Oliver have missed significant stretches due to injury as well. To top it off coach Willard just found out Thursday that sophomore guard Haralds Karlis has been playing with a groin hernia and will require surgery at the end of the season. To say that there is a lack of depth for this Pirates team is an understatement. And the one thing you can’t deal with in the rough and tumble Big East is a lack of bodies. This team ranks at or near the bottom of every statistical category in the Big East but three. They do shoot the ball well and rank 7th shooting 32.9% from the 3 and 1st in made 3’s at 7.1 per game. They also do a decent job of sharing the ball and are ranked 10th with 12.9 assist per game.
The Pirates rank nationally 211th with 66 points per game, 185th with 34.6 rebounds per game, 98th with 14.1 assist per game and 152nd shooting 43.6% from the field per game. Their current RPI is 122, and they are in 14th place in the Big East. Kenpom has their adj efficiency at 102.1 ranked 139th and their defensive adj efficiency at 96.9 ranked 111th. He has them ranked 115 overall.
In-conference offense: 3pt-32.9%, 2pt-40.6%, FT-64.4%
In-conference defense: Turnovers-10.7pg, Steals-5.9pg, Blocks-2.0pg
Coach Kevin Willard: “One of our biggest weaknesses, we don’t have the horses.” “I think it’s wearing down on us more mentally than physically. Physically, we’re getting out-matched. It’s tough to keep battling when you’re so undersized.”
The Pirate Players:
Haralds Karlis SOPH (3.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.0 apg) 6-5 G is decent long range shooter for this team, he also defends well at the shooting guard. He found out this week that he will have to play the rest of the season with groin hernia. He shoots 32.5% from the field, 20.8% from the 3 point line and 69.6% from the free-throw line.
Eugene Teague JR (11.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.5 apg) 6-9 C is a transfer from Southern Illinois with two seasons of eligibility. He gives the Pirates a good inside presence. He’s strong, got great touch around basket, runs the floor well and demands a lot of attention down low. He shoots 55.4% from the field, and 55.4% from the free-throw line.
Fuquan Edwin JR (17.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.4 blkpg) 6-6 G/F is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Pirates and has a steal rate so good it looks like a typo. Indeed among major-conference players, only our Peyton Siva can look Edwin in the eye when the topic turns to steals. Edwin is ranked 2nd in the Big East with 2.6 pg and Siva is 3rd with 1.9 pg. Edwin shoots 45.3% from the field, 41.4% from the 3 point line and 69.8% from the free-throw line.
Aaron Cosby SOPH (11.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.9 apg) 6-2 G is a pretty good long range scorer and he ranks 12th in the Big East in 3 point percentage and 5th in 3’s made per game at 2.2. He is shooting 40.9% from the field, 36.8% from the 3 point line and 73.2% from the free-throw line.
Tom Maayan FR (2.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.4 apg) 6-1 G is a solid player and very good on the ball defender. He shoots 38.6% from the field, 30.8% from the 3 point line and 35.3% from the free-throw line.
Kyle Smyth SR (4.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg) 6-4 G is a graduate transfer who played for Willard at Iona, and was eligible immediately this season. He fills into that depth the Pirates have at the wings. He shoots the ball well and has a great basketball IQ. He shoots 34.5% from the field, 33.7% from the 3 point line and 89.5% from the free-throw line.
Brian Oliver JR (7.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.2 blkpg) 6-6 G/F is a transfer from Georgia Tech. He started 12 games his final season at Georgia Tech in 2010-11 and was the third-leading scorer for the Yellow Jackets. He has brought scoring to the floor this season for the Pirates. He shoots 34.2% from the field, 34.8% from the 3 point line and 92.3% from the free-throw line.
Aaron Geramipoor JR (0.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.0 apg) 6-11 C has not played any significant minutes this season. He has struggled with a stress fracture in his right foot. He shoots 33.3% from the field, and 50% from the free-throw line.
Kevin Johnson FR (2.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.0 apg) 6-9 C had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a slightly torn meniscus, and has missed time this season. He is shooting 50% from the field and 45.2% from the free-throw line.
Rick Pitino has a lot of respect for Kevin Willard and says that he is the best young X and O guy coaching the game right now. And Willard is putting together a decent program at Seton Hall. He is just having one of those tough transition seasons and luck really hasn’t gone the way of the Pirates. They will be severely outmanned Saturday and really don’t have much of a chance against a Cards team that is now poised for a major NCAA run. This will be a great game for the Cards to fine tune and work on some things. I really would like to see Peyton Siva driving the lane more and taking the ball to the basket. He is gonna have to start getting to the foul line. Will be watching to see if Wayne and Kevin continue to produce, and if Gorgui can get it going a little more on the offensive end of the floor.
I would never say that any game is a guaranteed victory but this is as close to a guarantee you will see this season.
The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 80 Seton Hall 58