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.
St. Benedict’s Prep coach Dan Hurley is not happy with how point guard Eugene Harvey is being treated at Seton Hall.
A senior from Brooklyn, Harvey lost his starting job three games ago and was singled out on a Big East conference call by head coach Bobby Gonzalez for his penchant for turnovers.
“It shows a lack of loyalty to make comments like that about a particular player,” said Hurley, who played at Seton Hall. “In intercollegiate athletics, when your team’s losing, you should hold all players accountable. This is not the NBA. If you’re going to choose just one player, I think it’s wrong to single a player out in the media.”
Hurley said he made multiple calls to Gonzalez to discuss the matter but the calls were not returned.
“Bobby Gonzalez and the team are focused on preparing for Louisville Thursday,” Seton Hall spokesman Matt Sweeney said.
Harvey did not start for the third straight game Thursday night in Washington, D.C., when Georgetown beat Seton Hall, 85-73, to fall to 10-6 overall, 1-4 in the Big East. He came off the bench to notch 7 points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists in 16 minutes.
“I was gonna settle on Eugene [starting] tonight but he actually said to me that he felt more comfortable coming off the bench after the Cincinnati game so I put Keon [Lawrence] back in there [as the starter],” Gonzalez told reporters after the game. “And then Keon struggled at first, Eugene went in and turned the ball over. Jordan [Theodore] turned the ball over.
“But I went with Jordan in the first half. One thing about Jordan, when we were down a certain amount of points, one thing about Jordan is you know you’re going to go down swinging. He’s gonna fight. He’s gonna go down kamikaze, just running around, playing hard and that’ what I thought we needed at the time. In the second half I went back to Eugene because I think he realized he hadn’t played well and he came and gave us a lift. But I think at times Keon is going to go to the two a little bit and it’s going to be Eugene as the starter and Jordan kind of more of the way it was.”
Hurley played behind Bryan Caver during his time at Seton Hall and said it was difficult for Caver when he was subbed out after a mistake.
“I saw Bryan Caver, who had NBA ability, struggle mentally because he wasn’t allowed to play through mistakes. He was pulled in and out of games. Point guards need to play through some mistakes,” Hurley said.
Harvey is averaging 8.6 points, a team-best 4.9 assists per game (fifth in the Big East) and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0. Theodore is averaging 7.9 points, 3.0 assists and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.4. Lawrence averages 4.4 points, 2.3 assists and has the team’s best assist-to-turnover ratio (4.5).
“Eugene is shooting over 50 percent from the field. He makes free throws and has a 2-to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. I’m not sure what else he’s supposed to do,” Hurley said.
Hurley insisted that he’s not trying to tell Gonzalez how to coach, simply that he’s “disappointed” in the comments he made about Harvey.
In an effort to jumpstart the offense, Gonzalez started Lawrence in the team’s Jan. 6 loss at UConn and then again in the Jan. 9 victory over Cincinnati. Harvey had started 12 of the previous 13 games.
“He has to take care of the basketball,” Gonzalez said of Harvey on last week’s Big East conference call. “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.”
For his part, Harvey said he’s OK with Gonzalez’s decision.
“At the end of the day, it’s coach’s decision,” Harvey said after the Cincinnati game. “I’m a positive guy. I’m not selfish. It’s bigger than me. I stay positive. I cheer my team on. The guys that was in, I was cheering for them. I was rooting for them. The only thing I want to do is win.”
Seton Hall has three players who can play the point in Harvey, Lawrence and Theodore, and Harvey admitted that it can be “tough” rotating minutes.
“Sometimes it’s tough because all three of us want to play. We all want to be out there when the game is on the line. But unfortunately, maybe one of us or two of us can be out there. It gets tough at times…but I just put my faith in coach because at the end of the day he’s going to make the best decision for the team and he’s going to put who’s playing best at that time on the floor.”
Theodore also said he’s OK with the team utilizing three point guards.
“It’s great, three point guards,” Theodore said. “It’s kind of fun because if guys know their role, then it makes everything better. I know my role coming off the bench. I’m supposed to bring the energy, play defense, score when I have to, lead the team. And I believe that I’ve been doing that, so if I’m doing that every game and everybody else is doing their role, then we have no problems.”
Hurley said Harvey deserved credit for his play in the games the team lost.
“In the Temple game Eugene played very well and they lost,” Hurley said. “If he didn’t play such a great second half against Virginia Tech, they would never have even made it to overtime.”
Harvey was benched for part of the first game against Georgetown before coming back during the second half, when the team made a run.
“It’s a credit to Eugene that in the second half he responded the way he responded after being benched again in the first half,” Hurley said. “In the second half when you’re down 20, you bring him back in the game. He plays his butt off and you cut it to 7 or 8, that showed the character of him. A lot of players would’ve just gone out there and gone through the motions so I’m proud of the way he handled himself.”
(Mike Vorkunov contributed reporting; Photo courtesy Seton Hall Athletics)Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter.
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.