Ahead of tonight’s tipoff against Seton Hall, we sat down with Big East Coast Bias for a short Q&A to get some insider info on the Pirates. Check out what Andrew Padyk had to say:
FOW: The historical factor may side with TCU as this would be their first tournament win since 1987, but the Pirates haven’t had much tournament success in recent history despite making it a whole bunch. What would a win tonight mean for Seton Hall?
BECB: I think a win tonight for the Pirates would mean Kevin Willard and the program not only taking the next steps but also further along the process of Seton Hall being one of the main teams in the mix for the Big East. Its weird and taking a step back a bit but Kevin Willard in his time as Pirates head coach has been the best coach that the program has had since the PJ Carlesimo has the main man in West Orange. This is the fifth time in the Willard era they have made the Big Dance and success has not been their much minus reaching the Round of 32 in the 2018 Tournament, but overall I would say that this is slowly becoming the new norm for this program that has had some success in the past but not at this consistent level. The next step now is for Seton Hall to start kicking forward. After proving they can consistently be here and slowly be a part of the NCAA Tournament furniture now come the tricky part of starting to make further inroads into the Tournament. A win tonight could be the start of that and then after that well only time will tell.
FOW: How would you describe the Big East brand of basketball?
BECB: I think we’re both coming into this one having watched some of the best basketball in the country between the Big XII and the Big East this season. If I were to describe what Big East Basketball is immediately my mind goes to blood bath, but that’s honestly because this is a conference from top to bottom has strength in it and on anyone can win on a given night. It is definitely a league that trends towards guard play and good shooting, but also a lot of stellar defensive play as well. One other thing about the Big East is that it is a conference that trends more towards older players and teams that have bit more experience on the floor. More recently it has seen greater variety of styles ranging from the more helter skelter styles of Mike Anderson at St. John’s and Shaka Smart at Marquette to a more controlling game such as what Ed Cooley’s teams at Providence bring to the table.
FOW: Furthermore, how would you describe Seton Hall’s style of play?
BECB: They are a team that relies heavily on their front court and their size to dictate play. The Pirates are not a team to out run opponents but under Kevin Willard they has definitely been a team that will out muscles teams especially within the perimeter hence why guys like Ike Obiagu, Alexis Yetna, Tyrese Samuel and Tray Jackson have taken on such prominence in terms of minutes on the floor. Though while these guys are busy at work, the likes of Jared Rhoden and Myles Cale at guard have been great at stretching the floor and finding space for the Pirates to operate. I like to think of them like a coiled spring in a way the coiling action is suppressing opponents to just 66.3 points per game and them they expand but crashing the glass and find their opportunities down the floor.
FOW: If you could take one TCU player and stick him on the Pirates roster, who would it be and why?
BECB: Well I think you guys might know where I am going to go with this answer, but its a pretty obvious one. Mike Miles come on over the Pirates. Adding him to Seton Hall’s lineup would give the Pirates that immediate boost that has been missing with the loss on Bryce Aiken to Concussion. Sure they have managed to adapt well with a next man up approach but oh my stars you put Miles in next to Rhoden and you got yourselves a one-two at guard with that mixture of size, skill, and scoring touch, and then add Miles’ defensive play. Oof that would be amazing to see come together.
FOW: Being that Seton Hall is up in New Jersey, what kind of crowd can we expect from the Pirates here in San Diego?
BECB: I would expect this game to be a fairly neutral crowd overall being that San Diego is not particularly close to either Forth Worth or West Orange. Though there should still be a pretty vocal crowd there for the Hall. They are one of those fan bases that even if their is small group there they will make their voice heard in the arena.
FOW: What would you say the Pirates biggest strengths and weaknesses are?
BECB: There biggest strengths this season have been their size as this is a team where the shortest player on the floor is 6’ 2” tall, and on top of that the ability of their front court to drive and dictate play has been a massive strength this season. One underrated strength though has been the ability of Kevin Willard to mix and match his team adopting a next man up approach the roster that down the stretch paid of dividends that helped propel the Pirates to the Tournament. As for weaknesses the down side of mixing and matching has been a drop in scoring as they are team that draws heavily on their defense at times to dictate play and that can have the negative trade off of not being the most proficient on offense at times. This also could mean that teams can cancel out the impact Jared Rhoden has on a game especially with the absence of Bryce Aiken though the Hall has managed that well up to this point.
FOW: How hard is it going to be to outrebound Ike Obiagu?
BECB: One thing that I have noticed when watching Seton Hall this season is that the teams that have played a more pressing style of play have been the ones to succeed at getting after Ike Obiagu. Like the one game that I think is pressed into my mind when thinking about this question was Seton Hall’s 84 to 63 loss to St. John’s back in January. In that game Obiagu had one of his worst nights but the biggest takeaway was that St. John’s was able to nullify his play around the rim but taking on an aggressive style and pressing within the paint. Weirdly I feel like the Horned Frogs might make this all the more interesting with them being one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the nation. In a lot of ways the battle tonight between Eddie Lampkin and Ike Obiagu will be a microcosm for tonight’s game. Although on a side note I do feel like a lot of people are forgetting that Alexis Yetna is down there as well and can get his fair share of rebounds for the Pirates.
FOW: On a scale of 1-10, what is your confidence level the Pirates can come away with a win in round 1?
BECB: You know its weird I feel like every so often my mind on this game goes back and forth on what is going to happen tonight. I think that’s in large part as to why I wanted to reach out to talk about this this ga I feel like this game for a truly balanced match up which makes sense for a 8-seed vs. 9-seed game. As for giving it a grade on a scale? I’m going to say 7 out of 10. I think they’ll have their work cut out for them against the Horned Frogs but can see them winning. Its not out of the realm of possibility especially if Rhoden has a solid night and Obiagu is too tough to handle around the basket then the Pirates should be setting sail of the high seas of the Round of 32
FOW: We’re well aware of how talented and dangerous Jared Rhoden is on the court, but is there another player TCU fans may not be aware of that could make a splash in this matchup?
BECB: So if he was able to play this answer would have been Bryce Aiken but he has sadly been out for the season since suffering a concussion a few weeks back. In lieu of Aiken I have two answers to this question and they are both related to Aiken. The two players who TCU fans should keep their eye for in tonight’s game are Aiken’s replacements Myles Cale and Kadary Richmond both of whom have stepped up greatly in Aiken’s absence. Cale is the third leading scorer on the team with 9.8 ppg and Richmond is right behind him with 9.0 ppg, though Richmond’s main asset has been moving and getting after the ball as he leads the team with 4.1 apg and 1.6 steals per game. Either player give Seton Hall a different flavor of what they need on the floor and they have each paired well with Jarred Rhoden. Sure its not at the level that Aiken was bringing but it still has been pretty productive down the stretch and in the run up to the Tournament.