Hazell turning it on in final days at Seton Hall

Published March 04, 2011

| Associated Press

Jeremy Hazell somehow got lost in the wild ending surrounding Seton Hall's 84-70 upset of No. 15 St. John's.

It's the way his senior season has gone with the Pirates.

The shooting guard scored 28 points in a win over Alabama early in the season and broke his wrist in the game. In the middle of his rehabilitation, he was grazed by gunfire in a Christmas holdup attempt near his home.

And when Hazell scored a season-high 31 points in the stunning upset of the red-hot Red Storm on Thursday night, he got pushed into the background with the ejection of St. John's coach Steve Lavin in the closing minutes.

Hazell doesn't seem to mind. The lanky 6-foot-5 player seems at peace heading into his final home game on Saturday against Marquette (18-12, 9-8 Big East). He will be turning 25 later this month and he wants a shot at the NBA when he's done with the Pirates (12-17, 6-11).

"I think anybody who knows college basketball can see what an unbelievable job he has done in building this program," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "It's going to be tough to see him go, because he is well liked on campus and well liked in the community.

"He has been a great representative of the university, and to do what he has done in 3½ years, and to put up the points he has put up, shows you what a great basketball player he is."

Hazell's resume is impressive. He heads into the regular-season finale with 2,098 career points, the third highest in school history, trailing only Terry Dehere (2,494) and Nick Werkman (2,273). Had he not missed 13 games with the broken left wrist, he would have topped Werkman and might have been threatening Dehere's record.

The Big East Conference's all-time leader in 3-pointers in league games, Hazell refused to look back on his career, one which has not included a trip to the NCAA tournament.

The positive is that he has become a better player. His defense has improved, and this season his shot selection has improved.

Another note of interest on Thursday was that Hazell played without the wrist guard that he had been wearing since returning to the lineup on Jan. 12. It was his decision.

"It's the last couple of games of my career," he said. "So, it is all on me."

His shooting improved playing without the guard. He was 9 of 14 from the field, and 4 of 6 from 3-point range. That included one second-half bomb from at least 25 feet, and another off-balance shot as he was falling to the court.

"The wrist felt great," the Harlem resident said. "It felt like I was back. My shot was looking good."

It didn't hurt that Hazell had help. Freshman Fuquan Edwin scored a career-high 19 points, hitting 5 of 6 from long range.

Forward Herb Pope smiled when asked about Hazell, who now has scored 30 or more points 15 times. He has 53 games of 20-plus points.

"I saw a sign in the crowd that said: 'Teach me how to Hazel,'" Pope said. "That's the kind of night it was. He was scoring in a variety of ways. When a guy's playing like that, I'm sure coach Lavin just had to give it to him. You can't do anything about it."

Fellow senior forward Jeff Robinson said having Hazell on the floor makes the game easier for the Pirates.

"I love playing with him," Robinson said. "Everybody keys on him and it opens a lot of stuff for everybody else to get open and make plays, not just rely on Jeremy to score all the points. But when he is open and he is hot, you have to go to him. He can score as many points as anyone in the country."

Hazell wasn't interested in his point total against St. John's. He was happy winning and getting the bragging rights over a cross-rival rival, many of whom he knows very well.

"It's just a game," Hazell said. "Sometimes you are going to do good and sometimes you are going to do bad. It's just the flow of the game. Tonight, I was clicking. Everybody was clicking and it felt good, like back in the days when everybody was playing great and everybody was on. We looked tremendous out there."

Hazell has done that a lot at Seton Hall.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2011/03/04/hazell-turning-final-days-seton-hall/