By Jon Rothstein
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Take the pictures and put them away.
There’s a strong chance Seton Hall might never again have a power forward the caliber of Herb Pope.
The 6-foot-8 senior has been the primary reason for the Pirates’ surprising 8-1 start — and one he attributes to being more directly involved in the offense.
“I’m getting the ball more,” said Pope, whose averaged 21.9 PPG and 11.3 RPG through the season’s first nine contests. “I’m more in a rhythm on the offensive side of the floor than I was the past two years.”
After arriving from New Mexico State as a transfer at the start of the 2008-09 season, Pope sat out one year before playing the last two for Seton Hall. During that time, the Pittsburgh native patrolled the backboards as an ancillary piece around sharpshooting guard Jeremy Hazell and skilled forward Jeff Robinson.
Now, it’s completely the opposite.
“His role has completely changed,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “Last year, Herb was a guy who solely focused on rebounding and playing off of other people. Now, I’m running everything through him. It’s his show.”
And Pope knows that show is far from over.
While he’s produced at a high-level in the non-conference portion of the Pirates’ schedule, the skilled big man is aware that doing in the same thing in the Big East is something completely different.
“What we’ve done to this point doesn’t mean anything,” Pope said. “The Big East is going to be a completely different animal.”
With Pope, senior point guard Jordan Theodore and sophomore wing Fuquan Edwin as Seton Hall’s only proven offensive threats, the onus on Pope to score the ball in conference play might be immense — something he plans to relish.
“I’m looking forward to that,” Pope said of the scoring responsibility he’ll have in the Big East. “I’m a four-man that’s playing the five. I really feel for the first time I’m going to be able to show my versatility on that side of the floor.”
Your thoughts on Pope’s great start? Sound off below…