NEWARK – In a quiet moment in the locker room following a win over Pittsburgh, Jordan Theodore said every game was a must win for Seton Hall.
The fact that the Pirates can lose a game or two and still make the NCAA Tournament is a moot point. After a six game skid, the Hall feels like a team that has something to prove.
Mainly that they weren’t a phony team with a hot start to the season and that they are worthy to be a part of March Madness.
They did just that with a 94-64 beat down on St. John’s.
“It feel like we started fresh since we lost six in a row and now we got our rhythm back,” Theodore said. “We’re looking like the team we looked like in the beginning of the season.”
Or maybe even better.
“I feel like this was one of our best team games that we played all year,” Theodore said. “We played really good team defense.”
Not to mention flawless offensive execution that included six double-digit scorers.
Shooting 62 percent from the field for the game, the Hall hit 63 percent from beyond the arc, with 15 three-pointers.
“We’re taking good shots. The right guys are taking them at the right time,” head coach Kevin Willard said of his teams three point shooting. “Really like the ball is hopping around right now and guys are taking shots.”
Which is giving the Pirates a legitimate shot at making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, something which looked like it may not happen after a six game losing streak.
At that point, Theodore had to do some soul searching.
“I looked myself in the mirror because during that six game stretch I wasn’t playing well either. I was turning the ball over; I was getting one or two assists. For me being the leader of this team I can’t do that,” Theodore said. “I got to make the game easier for them [my teammates] and that six game stretch I wasn’t.”
The last three games he has. And so, Theodore (16 points and 10 assists) is right back where he wants to be. In a position to get to the Big Dance for the first time.
“I want that so bad, so bad. I dream about the tournament. Trust me, it hurts every year,” Theodore said. “I just want to walk across the court and see the bubble with the blue and the white NCAA letters.”
While his coach is only focused on his team’s next game, he can’t help but boast about his team’s tournament resume.
“You look at where our RPI is, our strength of schedule, the amount of road games we’ve played, the teams we’ve beaten, but we still have a lot of work to do to get to that, but we’ve always had that big picture on the wall,” Willard said. “We refocused and put ourselves in a position and that’s all you can ask for.”
To remain in that position, the Hall has to at least split their final four games. And that starts with traveling to Cincinnati on Saturday.
“It doesn’t get easier. We’re going into the [Cincinnati] Bearcats' house and they’re a great team and they’re trying to dance also,” Theodore said. “We just have to keep our heads up and go in there ready to play.”