Columbia Notebook: Donuts, a Jeremy Hazell sighting, classwork & more

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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.

Five thoughts

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.”

  • PadrePirate

    Good to hear that KW is aware of the defensive dip this year. Work in progress, ok. But we can’t wait for JT to solve that.

    • iratepirate

      JT playing a Gordon-like game would be phenomenal. You have to frustrate the opposing team’s PG. With JT and Jones taking turns at the 1, you can really go 100% defensively.

      The IW/DG combo last year made PGs work hard and eventually led to a lot of mistakes that we could capitalize on. For now, they have to find a way to create more havoc and get some turnovers.

  • Matty P

    Powell has been a great pickup for this team. He’s shown that he’s willing to go hard on the defensive end and has shown his offensive ability to drive when teams over commit on his 3 point shooting ability.

    I think because of those factors he might be best served as the 6th man for this team. He’d be able to bring much needed scoring to the second unit and has shown that he can infuse the team with energy at times when they get a little stagnant.

    • PadrePirate

      Kind of agree, but it’s hard to keep a guy like that on the bench, esp when MJ is under-performing. I think you’re right, though, and still hope that MJ will improve his game and that JT will add to, not disrupt, this team’s chemistry. We really need a true PG to run the offense and get other guys going.

  • ScarletPirate

    I’ll say it again – Powell reminds me of Terry Dehere.

    • The Hobokenite

      TOTALLY! The way Powell strokes the ball, is very reminiscent of the legendary #24. Although, Terry also had insane ball handling skills and speed, which allowed him to blow past defenders if they closed in on him. It’s good to see there’s some old school Pirate fans on here. Hazell was a great shooter, but Terry Dehere was a legendary baller. I had the opportunity to run into Terry at the season opener in Walsh Gym.

      I was really impressed with Jones hitting 12 footers to relieve the pressure of off the front court. If he starts hitting, wow, the defense will not know what to do.

      This difficult preseason schedule will pay dividends when the Big East schedule kicks in. It looks like the Big East conference is finally coming back to prominence. It’s great to see the ranked teams doing well.

      • Joe Schmoe

        Hazell was a volume shooter…not a great shooter.

        • Career 34.4% — would need to compare that to an average. It was the streaky nature that turned heads

        • hallstorm

          Hazell was not Dehere, of course (or even James Major, in my book), but he extended the defense and could hit some pressured 3’s. In Hazell’s defense, he didn’t have much of a supporting cast.

          I don’t want to jump into Dehere-type talk, but Powell has impressed. He has a very quick release and sensational body control. He also has a remarkable eye to see the whole floor, as well.

      • Good point re: Jones. Those two mid-range jumpers looked effortless. Would really add another facet

      • PadrePirate

        Yes to the BE! Great to see 4 BE teams in the top 20. We still have plenty of holes to fill before joining that club, but I think this team could get there. Powell brings a spark, but we still need a leader.

  • VinBick

    It was a nice bounce back game at the Rock last night. Lots of extra passes and balanced, unselfish play makes for W’s regardless of the foe.

    The student section made its presence known and is growing in size and enthusiasm. The flag guy needs to hit the gym though. Eight times around the dance team? Come on…..

    • Joe Schmoe

      With regard to the flag guy…. Its still early in the season….

      • VinBick

        Too slow and he looks like he is out of shape. May have to find a new flag man quickly. Do not think he will ever reach even 12 laps.

      • PadrePirate

        🙂 funniest thing I’ve heard all day.

  • PadrePirate

    Looking ahead via KenPom: Hawaii (198), Cal (53), and still undefeated S.Carolina (33).

    We could use a strong OOC road win. These are our last 3 road games before BE play, but do “neutral court” games (Cal, SC) have the same weight for the committee folks?

    • iratepirate

      Beat Cal and USC and we are in business resume-wise. Those will both be guaranteed top 100, and possibly top 50 teams. Will they be looked at as “true road wins”. No, but who cares. They will be solid wins to rest our case on for the Committee. If we swept the rest of the OOC we would be guaranteed to ride into conference in the Kenpom mid-30s. That’s exactly where you want to be.

    • Matty P

      Here’s an interesting article from a couple years ago with an interview of a member of the committee: http://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/article/2014-02-12/ron-wellman-answers-questions-about-seeding-game-sites-and

      Here’s the specific response as well to help answer your question regarding the weight of neutral sites: “Yes, we do look at those neutral site games. For instance, if Wake Forest were playing in Greensboro, calling that a neutral site game, it’s probably more of a home court advantage for Wake Forest than the other team. So is that truly a neutral site game? Those are the type of things we talk about when evaluating neutral site games.”

      So based on this type of response the loss against Florida would be viewed closer to a road loss than neutral and the outcome against USC would be viewed closer to a home win/loss, since it’s being played at the Garden.