Advocare Invitational: Seton Hall’s toughest test awaits

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Poised to make national noise after taking care of Iowa on the road in commanding fashion, Seton Hall is set to clash with Florida on Thanksgiving in the Advocare Invitational.

Albeit against one of the youngest teams in the country, the Pirates looked calm under pressure and failed to lose their lead in Iowa City for the final 16:37 despite a less than 100-percent healthy Angel Delgado (9 pts, 11 rebs).

In case you forgot (is that possible?), freshman two-guard Myles Powell was the star of the show as he poured in 26 points (5-7 3pt) while the ever-present Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington combined for 45.

The Hall is ranked one spot behind undefeated Florida (4-0) in both the AP (No. 33) and USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 30), setting up an appetizing Turkey Day matchup that will likely decide who takes on No. 11 Gonzaga in the semifinal; the Bulldogs take on winless Quinnipiac. 

These two schools have met only once before when Florida won 70-68 on last second free throws in the preseason NIT final back in 1987. Seton Hall was described as a “perennial doormat” by the NY Times, which was accurate at the time but comical in retrospect as they were just about to reach the program’s pinnacle in the years to come.

Seton Hall is faced with a chance to take down a top-10 KenPom ranked school, which will likely project as a resume win come March and only garner more votes in the AP poll should they carry momentum into the final rounds of the Advocare Invitational.

Scouting Florida:

As I wrote earlier this month, second-year coach Mike White returns every significant player except one from his 25-11 team that lost to George Washington in the NIT quarterfinals in March while the Gators have received a spark from College of Charleston graduate transfer Canyon Berry.

The senior wing is averaging 13.3 ppg — tops on the team — despite playing the role of an impact sixth-man for a group that is on the other side of the experience spectrum (62nd) compared to Iowa.

Like Seton Hall, the Gators have a rotation that goes at least eight-deep — six of which are juniors or seniors. White’s team is more methodical (186th tempo) than the Hall has been used to this season (Iowa was 12th) and they are ranked sixth in defensive efficiency after finishing 14th last year; Florida has held their opponents to 60 ppg so far.

The Gators haven’t played any powerhouses, but all four opponents are ranked 160th or better in KenPom and they’ve had to tour Florida, playing away from the O’Connell Center due to renovations which will surely have prepared them for a neutral court Advocare Invitational game in their backyard.

Three things to watch:

It looks like he will be close to 100-percent, but Angel Delgado’s health is a concern after he looked a bit hobbled against Iowa even though he nearly tallied a third consecutive double-double to start the season. Kevin Willard will need all his offensive weapons ready to go against a strong defensive team that will have formidable size across their starting front line in 6-11 USF transfer John Egbunu, 6-8 Justin Leon and 6-8 Justin Robinson.

While the focus has been on Angel, let’s not forget about Ish Sanogo. It seems clear that Willard’s glue guy has also been playing banged up after he sustained a pre-season knee injury, prompting Willard to tell media Sanogo played longer than he should have (29 mins) in the season-opener. Ish has done fine in the scoring column, but he has not yet reached last season’s form in other areas of his game that make him special. Seton Hall will need Sanogo or another supporting forward like Mike Nzei to rise to the occasion alongside Delgado on Thursday.

Seton Hall’s free throw shooting is a legitimate concern. It’s not surprising, but it is a worry since the Pirates rank 340th in free throw percentage (56.6%), down from 65.8% in 2015-16. The focus should be less on Delgado and Nzei’s collective 11-25 rate and moreso on Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez combining to make 18 of 33 (54%). To top things off, Madison Jones is a career 53-percent from the line, which makes for a very shaky backcourt when a close game comes down to the charity stripe.

KenPom says: No. 10 Florida 74, No. 36 Seton Hall 71 (39%)

Projected Seton Hall starters
PG – Madison Jones (4.7 ppg, 5.7 apg)
SG – Khadeen Carrington (21.7 ppg, 3 apg)
SF – Desi Rodriguez (16.3 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 apg)
F – Ish Sanogo (5.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
F – Angel Delgado (15 ppg, 13.7 rpg)

Projected Florida starters
PG – Kasey Hill (6.5 ppg, 3.8 apg)
G – KeVaughn Allen (12.3 ppg)
G/F – Devin Robinson (12.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
F – Justin Leon (7.8 ppg, 4 rpg)
F – John Egbunu (9.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg)

When: Thanksgiving, 830pm ET
Radio: 970 AM (Gary Cohen, Dave Popkin)
Opening line: Seton Hall +3

  • jfp1992

    Feels like an important game, if there is such a thing in November. A loss, while not bad, robs them of a likely #11 Gonzaga match-up which would be great for their resume. Plus, we all would LOVE to see how they play in a redemption game against Gonzaga. Beat The ‘Zags and they’re likely ranked come Monday with a another resume building game in the championship (#21 Iowa St?).

    • iratepirate

      Yeah, I’m definitely not even thinking about Gonzaga. This will be a huge test. My hope is that we catch Florida sleeping on their success. They haven’t played a team as good as us, and they might be thinking they’ve got a huge advantage. We just came off of playing Iowa, which is pretty strong competition.

  • Joe Schmoe

    Like the BET last March…One opponent, one game at a time. Florida will be a good game. Not concerned about rankings, votes, standings or braketology at this point.

    • LBP

      Nor am I Joe –but I do believe SHU is under-valued and I believe the Hall beats Florida by 10–Halll just has better athletes

  • Andrew Herbst

    This was a great test. But we’ll be ready to play. Our juniors are experienced and aren’t fazed by spotlight.

  • hallstorm

    This is a good game and a good litmus test. I think even though Florida has inside presence, the 3-point line will have to be closely guarded.

    I like our offensive execution so far.

  • PadrePirate

    Very excited to see how the Hall responds to this challenge. If our PFs can stay healthy and out of foul trouble, we’re in for a fun game. The back court weapons are there. Just hope this doesn’t come down to FTs.

  • Opening line: SH +3

    • PadrePirate

      What does Vegas know anyway? Hall by 5. GO PIRATES

    • LBP

      Line is down to 1.5 and may end at 1–Vegas has not caught up with the Hall-Guess everyone can figure how I bet 🙂

  • LBP

    Happy Thanksgiving to my Pirate families and friends–hope we feast on Gator tonite

    • Happy Thanksgiving to all. Good luck remaining awake for tonight’s game 🙂

      • PadrePirate

        Wimps! In Europe it’s a 2am tip off. You East Coast guys are lucky

        • >> Eat large meal early
          >> Pass out early
          >> Wake up for 2AM tip


  • 11yearplan

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone and go Pirates!

  • Matt


  • PadrePirate

    So far, perimeter D and TO’s are the difference. Need a spark

  • LBP

    Like how hard this Team plays– Team will get better

  • PadrePirate

    Nice half. Leading on the boards although Angel only has 1. Gators 6 tres. Seesaw battle

  • PadrePirate

    Zaga are waiting. No surprise

  • LBP

    I do believe J.Thomas is needed for this Team– gotta get M.Powell a few more shots

  • hallstorm

    Difficult game to watch after the myriad of blown bunnies and giveaways after the hot start to begin the second half. Sad, because this is a game they should have won. They are the better team and they will not like what they see on film offensively.

    • LBP

      Hall is the better Team but just missed too many opportunities underneath–tonite was an example of missing I.Whitehead–a player to control the floor. A little disappointed with Jones but he is new to the Team

  • Matty P

    Tough loss tonight. Went through that 4+ min drought that we’ve seen shu teams go through and they just couldn’t get over the hump after cutting it to a 1-2 point game a couple times. They also gave up too many second chance opportunities. Positives to the night was they did better at the line and Powell looks like he’s going to be a dangerous weapon for this team.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone

  • PadrePirate

    Shame. Lack of PG leadership felt. We’re also not getting enough from back up PFs. KC is still shooting lights out but cannot carry the offense alone.

  • Joe A

    Terribly sloppy effort. Bad defense and bad shot selection. And what happened to the rebounding? Totally disgusted. This was a game they could have won. They’ve got a lot of work to do.

    • Matty P

      I feel like the defense has been a little disjointed early this year and definitely not at last year’s level. I’m sure some of that can be attributed to the loss of Whitehead since it’s easier to switch with a 6-5 athletic guard. I’m not an expert, but to me it also seems that Sanogo has been over helping and been late to get to the shooters. I’m guessing that’s more him trying to do everything. If they can get the defensive side figured out then they should be in great shape since they’ve got a balanced offensive attack.

  • Thehall

    It’s early no reason to panic. The only thing that worries me is our lack of depth down low. If AD gets into foul trouble we are at a huge disadvantage. I thought Nzie would show more improvement this year. I liked what we got out of him last year and was excited to see him come off the bench and give us a spark this year. Hopefully he stil will.

  • Joe A

    No, we don’t need to panic at this early point in the season, but they blew a real good opportunity to get a win that might have helped them at tournament time. Plus they would have gotten to play Gonzaga and either Iowa St./Miami which would have helped their strength of schedule.

    They gave up way too many easy baskets tonight including a bunch of uncontested three’s. Delgado was nowhere to be found on the boards (3 rebounds) and there were numerous dumb fouls. And while Carrington was outstanding again, he still continues to struggle at the line. He needs to shoot between 75-80% and he’s nowhere near that so far (54%).

  • Notebook is up. Please contact me or drop a note here if you’re not seeing the story as expected on the home page

    • PadrePirate

      Chris, I always have to go through “portfolio” or your twitter feed (I don’t have twitter) to see the latest posts. When I go to the home page, I still get the Iowa article.

      • Clearing your browser cookies will solve this. Ill see what I can do on my end since this isnt happening to everyone

      • Can you try now? I was receiving the same error on my phone — I then made a change — and now it looks solved.

  • Joe A

    When is this team going to wake up and start playing some defense.

  • Joe A

    This is an embarrassment. Quinnipiac for crying out loud.