It’s a song that jumps off the page.
Seton Hall men’s basketball ranks 355th out of 358 Division I teams in percentage of assisted field goals. The Pirates have an assist on just 37.7 percent of their buckets.
For context, Arizona leads the nation at 67.4 percent, Marquette leads the Big East at 65.8 percent, and neighborhood rival Rutgers is seventh in the nation at 63.6 percent.
At the bottom, Washington is the next high major closest to Seton Hall, who ranks 334th at 41.9 percent. Among Big East colleagues, this is DePaul at 42.3 percent.
Hall coach Kevin Willard referred to the issue last week, calling his team’s roster “baffling” and disapproving of “way too much one-on-one basketball.”
RELATED:Former Hall star Levell Sanders coaches Binghamton
He also lifted it in November, citing the Pirates’ reliance on pull-up jumpers, calling them “offensively challenged” and lamenting that “sometimes you sit there and say ‘My god, this is painful’.”
After a much-needed farewell week, the Hall (11-5 overall, 2-4 Big East) will outperform St. John’s (10-6, 2-3) at Madison Square Garden (afternoon, Foxsport 1) on Saturday as a team ?
“In Big East game, it’s very clear that every possession matters, so we have to collectively, as a unit, do better to get better possession and get a shot every time, and ultimately take better care of the ball.” postgrad guard Bryce Aiken said Thursday. “We will definitely go back to playing team basketball.”
There are several factors behind the low support rate. The Pirates only shoot 31 percent of the 3-point range (301st in the country), wasting more than a few open looks and accompanying assists. They are fouling at a fast pace, aiming for a Big East lead with 22.5 free throws per game. And they run a violation with a lot of isolation. With no apparent facilitator on the field, players seem to hunt rather than team up for the best shot.
It worked in a 90-87 win over UConn in which they assisted just 10 of the 32 field goals. It didn’t work out so well during last week’s loss to Marquette (six assists on 25 buckets). Opposite St. John’s, which has one of the Big East’s more porous defenses, the ball could be moved.
Seton Hall does not come out of the bye with another foul. The Pirates have had a system that focuses on individual play for years. But even a slightly better commitment to getting the ball through the air could help a catch-and-shoot threat like guard Jamir Harris, whose ability to do what he does best has been limited until now.
Seton Hall has been doing well at Madison Square Garden since the program turned the corner in 2016 to set a record 13-6. But four members of the Pirates rotation have never played a college game at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Aiken said he only went to court there once, in sixth grade. Saturday will be a first for attacker Alexis Yetna.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to get there and see this basketball landmark,” Yetna said. “Obviously it’s something special for every basketball fan in the world. To be in a place where so many extraordinary things have happened is a blessing and something I will not take for granted. But it’s still just basketball, something I do every day.”
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and college basketball since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at email@example.com.