Pirates In the Zoo

Another day in the Big East

Our #5 Panthers have their final primer against Seton Hall University before they take on the Syracuse Orange on Big Monday. Pitt is playing its best basketball right now. Though I expected a much bigger fight out of Georgetown than what we saw, I repeat my worry that Pitt will have a slump game soon after playing so well (that might be my damaged psyche from football season though) . Right now, Seton Hall is the next game on the schedule, not Syracuse. I’m confident that Jamie Dixon will have their heads in the right place though.

The Seton Hall game, unfortunately, is scheduled at the same time as during the Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens play-off game. Hopefully Pitt fans will have some time to either go to the game, or at least switch over to watch it every once in a while on TV. There will reportedly also be football recruits at this game. I would not be surprised if new football Head Coach Todd Graham made an appearance as well. Pitt basketball games have often been a good place to grab some recruits attention, and show them Pitt fans are passionate about their teams. Do what you can to make them feel welcome.

Seton Hall, with 1st year coach Kevin Willard (a ’97 Pitt basketball Alumnus), has been having a disappointing season to say the least. They’re sitting at 8-9, 2-3 in the Big East with wins over DePaul and USF who are both winless in the Big East. They played Syracuse very close at home, losing only by 5. However, the Pirates have been without arguably (actually, there’s no argument) their best player in Jeremy Hazell who is 25 by the way (?!?!). He injured his wrist 3 games into the season, and has been sidelined. The big story, though, was Hazell was held at gunpoint over Christmas and shot in right armpit. He played last night, however, against DePaul and scored 23 points. CBS’s Eric Angevine had something to say:

Just to recap, Hazell came back from his wrist injury in the absolute minimum time his doctor would allow. He was also shot — SHOT — by a gunman just eighteen days ago, and he came back playing out-of-his-mind, not tentative or ginger on the ol’ wings at all. As the Associated Press reported, “Hazell, a first-team preseason All-Big East selection, had an alley-oop dunk to make it 77-60 with 2:17 left. He scored 15 points in the second half. Hazell said he never doubted that he would return to the court even after being shot.”

I think I’d be a DNP – quivering pile of goo for the rest of the season if I had been shot by a robber, but it wasn’t nothin’ but a thang to Hazell. That’s pretty tough, both mentally and physically.

Hazell has been a factor for all of the past SHU-Pitt games. SHU surprised Pitt last year and took a win from them when Pitt was in NJ. The other factor is the rebounding machine that is Herb Pope (20 rebounds against Syracuse). Pope also had some health problems. He collapsed during a workout last April, and had to have surgery to correct a birth defect in his heart. That story kind of took the spot of another from during the season on Herb Pope. Check it out:

Considering Pitt had offered a scholarship to Herb Pope, I’m kind of glad he didn’t take it.
For game analysis, its kind of hard to say what kind of team this is. The one without Jeremy Hazell has not done great. They don’t rank very well in any category. With having enough rest from Georgetown, and this game being at the Pete, I don’t foresee Pitt having a terrible time in this game. This could definitely be a trap game if Pitt is looking to far ahead to Syracuse, but Pitt doesn’t seem to have a history of doing that in the past. They always play up/down to their opponent but should have this comfortably. I’ll be at the game in the Zoo as always, so I’ll be tweeting from there with pictures/comments.

Hail to Pitt, and Go Steelers and Pens!

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