By Jon Rothstein
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The passes were crisp and the timing was perfect.
Like a quarterback engineering a flawless two minute drill, Jordan Theodore was the quintessential floor general for Seton Hall in last night's 75-63 upset over No. 8 UConn.
Scoring 19 points and dishing out 11 assists while only committing four turnovers, Theodore put on a performance that was likely the best of his four-year career and it raises the question that many didn't think would exist when the season began ---- is the Pirates' senior point guard the best at his position in the Big East?
It certainly looks like it.
While other lead guards such as Cincinnati's Cashmere Wright have gotten to off to terrific starts, no player has transformed his game like Seton Hall's senior captain.
The Pirates' surprising 13-2 start can be directly attributed to the play of Theodore and senior power forward Herb Pope but Theodore's progression could be a bigger factor because it was somewhat unexpected.
After an up and down junior season, Theodore is a completely different player than he was a year ago.
In last night's win over UConn, Theodore didn't make a shot in the first half but handed out six assists and committed zero turnovers in the first 20 minutes. That type of stat line might have been unheard of at earlier points of his career.
"I love the way he's doing what he's doing," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said of Theodore recently. "He's dishing out a high number of assists and he's rarely turning the ball over. He's been a consummate point guard."
Earning that title has been a process.
Forced into more of an offensive role last season when Pirates leading scorer Jeremy Hazell was out for 12 games with a wrist injury, Theodore struggled when he was looked to anchor the Pirates' offense on the perimeter.
"I don't know if he was ready for that," Willard said of Theodore last season. "It takes time to get used to having packages put in for you on a regular basis."
Now, it's become routine.
"This is the first time in my career that I'm being featured as the go to guy," Theodore said. "I'm initiating everything and I look at it like I'm extension of Coach Willard on the floor,"Whatever he (Willard) needs done, I'm going to do."
And that's been obvious.
In Seton Hall's last six games, Theodore has dished out 41 assists and only turned the ball over 14 times --- a tremendous transformation for someone who was once looked at as a "score first" point guard.
"When he came here was an energy guy," Pope said of Theodore. "Now he's running the show and making all the important decisions. He's a pure point guard."
And maybe the best one in the Big East.
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