Seton Hall still a 'work in progress' after successful start to the season

Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella in his office after a season-opening win on Friday. - Photo by Ray Floriani.

Seton Hall opened their season with a 63-46 win on Friday night to the satisfaction of new coach Tony Bozzella who still sees room for improvement.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The two visitors to the coach's office at Seton Hall were offered a drink.

"Snapple or water," said Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella following the Hall's 63-46 victory over Longwood on Friday. "That was a tough one to watch, but you guys hung in there. Hey, it's a win."

A close contest through the first half was opened up shortly following the break. The 16 minute to 12 minute (remaining) juncture sat the Pirates go on a 12-0 run to push the lead to 17 points. It was primarily courtesy of the defense: full court pressure unnerved the visiting Lancers. In the half court, trapping the guards out of a 2-3 zone also disrupted Longwood's offense fueling some easy baskets for the Hall.

Seton Hall used a good deal of 2-3 zone.

"I would prefer pressure man to man," Bozzella said, "but given the fact we have injuries and depth is a question, we played the 2-3."

The Hall did show some man mainly to "throw (Longwood) off balance,' per Bozzella. "Their shooters were getting too comfortable."

Longwood wanted no part of Seton Hall's size advantage inside so they decided on a perimeter shooting game and rolled the dice. Bozzella pointed out the fact Longwood struggled from three last season but knocked down eight treys against the Hall. They did shoot 22% from three (8 of 36). The Lancers attempted 36 of their 58 shots beyond the arc. But it wasn't so much giving up eight treys but the manner in which his team did, that coincerned Bozzella.

Resilency. With just under 15 minutes to play, Sidney Cook, a 6-2 Seton Hall forward, dove for a loose ball, landed out of bounds and did not get up.

"At first we thought it was an ankle or knee injury," Bozzella said. "What happened was (Cook) hit her head on a cheerleader's knee and the floor."

There was a 20 minute wait as Cook was taken off the floor by stretcher to go for a CAT scan. When play resumed the Hall came out hard picking up where they left off with that tough defense, smothering any hope for a Longwood comeback.

"Our kids had to wait and watched as one of their teammates, a family member, lie injured," Bozzella said. "To get right after it and continue to play hard tells you a lot about this team."

It is early but Bozzella already labels his club a ‘work in progress'. They played hard pounding the offensive boards: their offensive rebounding percentage was an astounding 53%. In analytic metrics a mark of 40% basically labels your team as 'chairman of the boards'. In raw numbers, the Hall held a 28-11 edge under the offensive glass. Ali Bra'Shey led all with 15 rebounds. The 6-foot forward almost matched the Longwood team grabbing 7 offensive rebounds.

On the flip side is a concern regarding point production. The offensive glass and points produced by forcing turnovers, an 18-6 edge in that department, provided a significant percentage. Ka-Deidre Simmons, a redshirt Junior guard, was the Hall's lone double digit scorer with 14 points. Simmons did add 7 assists and 4 steals in a strong all around outing. Still, someone who can step up and consistently score from the perimeter is necessary.

"We need someone to hit from the outside on a consistent basis," Bozzella admitted with a strong tone of concern.

The effort, once again, was lauded and for good reason. They may be undermanned due to injuries and there are questions to be answered (perimeter shooting) . On the other hand you cannot fault the effort.

"We are asking the kids to learn a new system," Bozzella said. "They are coming along and working very hard."

The effort to date not in question. The victories may not be artistic. Fine. Bozzella & Co. will gladly take them as they come.

For more on Seton Hall's adjustment to a new system after Anne Donovan's departure, check out our Q&A with Simmons.

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