Seton Hall dropped an emotional rollercoaster of a game against Oregon in the first round of Battle 4 Atlantis after leading by as many as 19 points.
The Pirates looked in good shape after going up 57-41 with 13:45 to play in the second half following a barrage of Myles Powell three-pointers, but Oregon would score 14 of the game’s final 16 points over the last six minutes of the game to cap off an epic offensive collapse from Seton Hall.
This game had a Sweet 16 atmosphere. I guess it’s no coincidence that the only other time these two schools met, Shaheen Holloway went coast-to-coast to jump-start a Pirates Sweet 16 run. It just seemed like every possession mattered a bit more and the intensity of this one resembled something seen on a second weekend in March. Myles Powell getting tripped by the Oregon bench late in the first half, every possession seemingly being so hard-fought — this was a classic one- or two-possession March game with its fair share of momentum swings.
Myles Powell is living up to the hype. Being honest, I kind of shrug off a degree of Powell’s hype when listening to ESPN or reading digital news, chalking it up to national naivety. But the guy put on a show tonight and lived up to the ridiculous ESPN billing, it’s hard to say much more than that; Powell hit four threes in 3:11 to start the second half and six threes in a row at one point. It was an incredible showing until Seton Hall seemed to default to Powell throwing up prayers late in the game, an option that became exhausted over the final quarter.
Seton Hall is developing a problem with closing out games, which separates them from the elite tier. First Michigan State and now this, you can easily say Seton Hall has blown two games it should have won. The two games were lost for different reasons, but one common thread was that the offense hasn’t been good enough down the stretch. In Newark, they sped the game up too much when they should have pumped the brakes, and tonight they were way too one-dimensional against Oregon’s late pressure.
The post forwards struggled tonight. Compared to past games, Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu were non-existent on the offensive end and hurt Seton Hall on the defensive glass. The Pirates were out-rebounded 39-28 and 15-9 on the offensive glass, yielding +6 Oregon second chance points. Tyrese Samuel seemed to be taking Sandro Mamukelashvili’s spot in the first half, but Sandro bounced back in the second half, although it wasn’t enough to fully anchor the forward core.
The team can’t get memorized by Powell. He is undoubtedly a showstopper, but it seems that Powell’s teammates can take a backseat to his performances instead of firing on all cylinders alongside him. It’s Kevin Willard’s job to augment the two and make sure the team keeps an even keel while also tapping into Powell’s take-over ability. Just two points over the last six minutes including none from Powell is an epic collapse.
Five Quotes from Kevin Willard (AM970)
Willard on the turning point: “They went small … They picked up their pressure and I just thought we were so casual with the basketball … We gave them momentum when we had momentum. Unless we fix the rebounding, offensive rebounding– as hard as we’re playing in the half court and getting guys to take tough shots, we’re just giving up way too many … Someone else has to step up [besides Powell] … That’s where we need to get better: you ride him as much as you want to but someone has to make a play at the end. Their small lineup hurt us, it really did. It spaced us out a little bit, gave them some driving lanes and it made it hard for us to go big … We fouled, that’s something we’re doing a little bit too much of.”
On Shavar Reynolds’ late runner without a timeout call: “Playing Myles 35 minutes this time of year is really hard. Not having timeouts has hurt us, in the Michigan State and it hurt us tonight. Tried to play a lot of guys early, Tyrese Samuel played well and got hit with a thigh bruise at the end of the first half. Q was cramping– I don’t know why we were cramping up, the only guy that should have been cramping up was Myles Powell, the way he was playing. They’re denying him, someone has to go out there and make a play. Us being small with Sandro at the five, I thought Sandro playing 30 minutes played really tough but we never should have put ourselves in that situation … Our fouling, I think that’s what it really came down to, us fouling gave them a chance to get to the foul line. Even though they didn’t shoot it great, it gave them a chance to set up pressure and gave them a chance to get back into the game.”
On the decision making to feed Powell or spread the ball late in games: “We had opportunities, we had guys getting down the lane. Us not getting to the free throw line hurt us, not giving us a break at all. I’m surprised we’re not getting to the free throw line as much as we’re driving. Our big guys, they’re blocking shots but I need them to rebound a little bit more. They’re not being productive enough on the inside. But they’ll get better … But this team will get better. One way or another we’ll improve on our rebounding whether it’s tonight outside on the practice court or–“
On role player production: “I love the way Ty’ [Tyrese Samuel] is playing. He got whacked a little and is limping around. Playing Tyrese and Sandro together, being small will be good for us. Our sophomores have to play better. Jared [Rhoden] and Ant [Nelson] are two guys who I love, but they have to play better. They have to play better in these games and they’re capable of doing it and they should be doing it.”
Willard on disappointment or concern at this point: “None. I wasn’t going to load up on this and if we didn’t win the tournament it’s a disappointment. It’s only still November. I said this awhile ago, I think this team is going to continue to get better and better and better. When you play high-level games– we had our opportunities, we had our opportunities against Michigan State, we need to do a little bit better job with leads and running offense in terms of quick shots. I think as we round into form a little bit these games are going to help us later on.”