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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.
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Friday / January 18.
  • Seton Hall, Rutgers Gear up for Weekend

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    Coming off the Thanksgiving holiday, both Seton Hall and Rutgers are gearing up for games this weekend.

    **After winning 2 of 3 in Puerto Rico, Seton Hall (4-1) actually received two votes in the AP Top 25 poll, the same poll that features seven Big East teams in it: No. 2 UConn, No. 3 Louisville, No. 4 Pittsburgh, No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 15 Marquette, No. 20 Villanova and No. 21 Georgetown. Syracuse, which beat defending national champ Kansas in Kansas City, and West Virginia also received votes.

    “It’s too early to even think about ‘resume wins’ or anything like that, or NIT or NCAA, because we have so much basketball to play,” PIrates coach Bobby Gonzalez told WABC radio. “But to come in and beat USC and Virginia Tech and get some quality wins like that, and play Memphis, too, which is a strength-of-schedule game, and go home 4-1, I think that’s pretty exciting right now for this early in the year.”

    The Pirates next host Delaware (2-3) on Saturday at noon at “The Rock.” It will be a big day of hoops in Newark as the building will actually host three games that day, including two as part of the Legends Classic featuring Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and Washington State.

    “The one thing you don’t want to do is go home and then lose a game at home you’re supposed to win,” Gonzalez said. “And sometimes kids think, ‘Because we’re at home, we’re playing Delaware, we can relax.’ It’s not like that in Division I. You get beat. It takes away beating Virginia Tech [in Puerto Rico] if you lose to Delaware or anybody else. No disrespect to them because it’s a good team.”

    Sophomore guard Jeremy Hazell was named Big East Player of the Week last week and is averaging 22.8 points on the season, including a 32-point outburst against Memphis in Puerto Rico.

    “With [Hazell], you just think the ball’s in,” Memphis coach John Calipari told me. “What he does to your defense is he changes how you have to play. You gotta go put on him, you gotta open up lanes for other guys based on you know he can make shots.”

    **Down the New Jersey Turnpike at Rutgers, things are not as rosy.

    The Scarlet Knights (3-2) are coming off back-to-back home losses to St. Bonaventure and Lehigh.

    The Bonnies were picked last in the 14-team Atlantic 10, while Lehigh was selected second in the Patriot League.

    “This was a wonderful win for our team and our program,” Lehigh coach Brett Reed said after Wednesday night’s 76-71 victory. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rutgers, the way they are developing their program and the progress they have made over recent years. For us, it was a team effort, first and foremost.”

    Sophomore guard Corey Chandler came off the bench against Lehigh to score 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while freshman guard Mike Rosario had an off night, scoring 10 on 4-of-20 from the field.

    “Corey gave us great minutes tonight,” said head coach Fred Hill. “I thought Corey did an outstanding job tonight. We are asking him to play some point, which is new to him. We are putting him in a new situation. He understands the situation and he has responded outstanding and he gives us great life off the bench.”

    Hill may want to consider starting Chandler instead of bringing him off the bench in order to inject some offense into his starting lineup. If Rutgers is going to be successful in the long term, Chandler and Rosario need to play well together.

    Next up for the Knights is St. Peter’s on Sunday at the RAC. St. Peter’s has lost Darrell Lampley, the former Linden star, who left the team.

    Former Bloomfield Tech star Wesley Jenkins leads the Peacocks at 18.3 ppg.

    (Photos courtesy Big East and Star-Ledger)

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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.