NEWARK — Seton Hall used a barrage of three-pointers from freshman Myles Powell early in the second half to blow a dangerously close game wide open and rout Columbia 95-71 on Thursday night.
Kevin Willard heaped plenty of praise of Powell, Ismael Sanogo returned from injury, Myles Carter was in class instead of at the Prudential Center and much more below.
Myles Powell displayed shades of Jeremy Hazell tonight. And get this stat: The last time Seton Hall played Columbia, Hazell scored 21 and was 4-of-9 from three. Tonight, Powell scored 21 and was 7-of-9 before missing his last three-point attempt. Myles will need to adjust to teams focusing more on him (Columbia’s assistant did tell the entire bench early in the game to not even let Powell get a shot off early) because he hasn’t taken a ton of tough shots, but all early signs are very good for this talented freshman who can do a lot more than just shoot.
Feeding Angel Delgado and ball movement were much improved tonight. Sure, Columbia was not a good defensive team coming into the game and their height doesn’t even compare to Stanford, but it’s nice to see Seton Hall show signs of focusing on weaknesses and improving upon them when given the time (two practices). They doubled their assist count from Sunday by the half and ended the game with 20 from six different players.
The defense is still a work in progress. Kevin Willard acknowledged this post-game, but Columbia was really working them defensively in the first half and early in the second before Seton Hall just overpowered the Lions. Getting Ish Sanogo and Madison Jones back to 100-percent will help, so this is going to be an open item until Jevon Thomas joins the team and we can really see what a full compliment of players will do defensively heading into the Big East season.
When Ismael Sanogo and Mike Nzei are both playing well, Seton Hall is really going to benefit. Kevin Willard had high praise for all the little things Ish does and if Nzei can remain effective coming off the bench as the first forward, it’s not amazing front court depth, but it’s as good as Seton Hall has had in quite some time. As Willard said (see below), Sanogo really gels with the first teamers while Nzei brings phenomenal offensive rebounding and gritty buckets to the equation.
A few tidbits: Myles Carter missed tonight’s game because he had to “reintroduce himself to the classroom” according to Kevin Willard — Carter had class tonight and attended that instead. His status going forward (specifically the Hawaii trip) will be dependent on his academics, but it sounds like he will travel … Madison Jones hyper-extended his right knee in the second half of the Stanford game, hence the knee brace tonight. He missed practice on Tuesday and played some on Wednesday … Seton Hall leaves on a 6AM flight Thursday for Hawaii.
Quotes from Kevin Willard and Myles Powell:
Kevin Willard on if he expected this from Myles Powell: “I did not expect the work ethic he has. We recruited him since he was a freshman. Everyone had told me he was a little lazy. I should have known by the way he attacked donuts, that he would not be lazy once he got in shape. Once he got in shape he is one of the hardest working kids we’ve had. His work ethic has really, really helped him to be here. Once he lost all this weight, his game has transformed. He can play longer, he’s not just shooting threes, he’s getting to the rim, his game has really changed because he has worked so hard to change his body. Anybody that loses 45 pounds in 4 months has to be dedicated. Once I saw his dedication to his work ethic and how good he was, I sat there and said ‘the sky’s the limit for this kid’”
Willard on his team’s defense: “We have to work on our defense. The biggest thing we miss with Isaiah and Derrick is the fact we lost two big physical guards. They made up a lot defensively at times. Madison is a good defender but in a much different way than Derrick … That’s one thing Jevon [Thomas] — he will help with that … We have to work on creating more turnovers.”
On the Florida trip overall: “I wasn’t that upset about the Florida trip. We’re not good enough without our full compliment to beat good teams. We can’t not play Sanogo and Myles Powell [injuries] — and expect guys to play positions they haven’t played [this early in the season] … You don’t like going 1-2, but sometimes it happens and you learn from it.”
On Ish Sanogo’s return to the line-up: “It’s huge. Mike Nzei is playing great and he’s progressing great, but Ish with that first unit, covers for everybody. He really does a phenomenal job defensively. 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 2-3 from the line. It’s not a stat line that looks phenomenal, but if you watch film and for people who really, really watch basketball, it’s amazing how many phone calls I get on a daily basis and they say ‘Wow I really love to watch that kid Sanogo play’. With that unit, he fits their personality, they know what they’re going to get with them, they trust him. And Mike helps with that second unit, he can score, he can rebound.”
Myles Powell on how he felt shooting the ball: “I couldn’t miss, but I just let the game come to me. I just came off an 0-for-5, I guess you guys forgot about that one. But my teammates, coming into practice Tuesday and Wednesday, I wasn’t shooting the ball in practice and they pulled me to the side and yelled at me, Coach yelled at me and told me to keep shooting the ball. So coming into the game today with that mindset, it felt great that my teammates believe in me.”
Powell on being billed as just a spot-up shooter: “I wasn’t always just a spot-up shooter, I was just overweight. All the things I wanted to do, I couldn’t really do. Now that I’m 45 pounds lighter, I can do that.”