Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
In an effort to jump-start his team against UConn, Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez gave junior Keon Lawrence his first start at point guard while sitting down senior Eugene Harvey, who had started 12 of the previous 13 games.
Lawrence shot 2-for-11 from the field and finished with 4 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes in Seton Hall’s 71-63 loss.
This development marks quite a turnaround for Lawrence, who was reinstated Dec. 19 after being suspended indefinitely for driving the wrong way on the Garden State Parkway and causing a two-car accident.
A former star under Dan Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep, Harvey had been averaging 8.9 points, 5.3 assists and 2.8 turnovers with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“We felt like we were getting off to a slow start…and a big part of it was turnovers,” Gonzalez said on Monday’s Big East conference call. “And not getting us in our offense and not being in the flow. And I wanted to change some things up. We wanted to get Keon going. It’s not that Keon is our most talented point guard. It’s a tough decision to make because Eugene’s a very good player and he’s a senior but we gave it a shot and we liked the way we started last night. We stayed with it a lot and we thought Keon was better defensively with guys like Kemba Walker and [Jerome] Dyson. And then we went with Jordan Theodore.
“They didn’t make shots but they did everything else. They defended, they battled, they handled the ball. They got steals, they got assists, they gave us quickness and toughness. So I went with what I thought was working and what I thought was giving us the best chance to win the game. We’re not going to give up on Eugene but we have two very good guards in Jordan and Keon, so we have some options this year.”
Gonzalez, whose team has dropped four straight games and five of six overall, said he wasn’t sure if he would start Lawrence Saturday at home against Lance Stephenson and Cincinnati.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “We beat Cincinnati two years in a row and both those were wars. But Eugene has actually played some of his best games of the season in the last couple of years against Cincinnati, ironically. For whatever reason, I know they visited him [on a recruiting trip] so he’ll be pumped up to play them. I’m not sure. He’s a senior, we’re at home. I’m not going to give up on him but I do like what I saw. I thought that Jordan and Keon are the defensive quickness that we want for the future.”
Asked what Harvey had to do to get back in Gonzalez’s good graces, the coach added: “He has to take care of the basketball. I feel like he’s turning the ball over at the most inopportune times in games and it’s really costing us. Obviously, he’s a senior and I’ve stuck by him and I’ve been loyal and I’ve been behind him.
“I’m not going to give up on him. I think he’s still got a lot of ability and he’s still the same kid who scored 1,000 points, 500 assists, a lot of great things for us. But at the same time, in the Virginia Tech game, he helped bring us back with 17 points in the second half but turned the ball over three straight times at the beginning of overtime.
“And that’s kind of been Eugene this year in a nutshell. And as a senior, we need him to be more of a leader, more consistent.”
(Photo courtesy Seton Hall Athletics)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.