DePaul Notebook: Seton Hall crushes the Blue Demons, 87-56

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NEWARK — Following a pedestrian first 10-15 minutes of action, Seton Hall came alive with some help from Desi Rodriguez and buried DePaul under a few inches of Newark snow and 31 points.

Rodriguez put himself on the second team in practice, the Hall shared the ball at their best rate of the season (21 asts on 33 FGM), and the defense looked to really clamp down after an early flurry of offensive turnovers in the first half.

All that and more below.

Five thoughts:

I’m not quite sure how this DePaul team nearly knocked off Villanova at the Pavilion. I admittedly did not watch that game until the final minutes, but they looked in a different class than Seton Hall today after the Pirates got going. Billy Garrett Jr. can play on most teams in the country and Eli Cain is an impressive sophomore, but they have a lot of work to do elsewhere. Dave Leitao’s forward core is undersized and his team just looked really sloppy when trying to execute little things today.

That 31-4 run was something else. The two teams were trading sloppy punches until Desi Rodriguez’ personal 8-3 run at the end of the first half which got the crowd off their behinds for the first time and would turn out to be the catalyst of the game-changing swing. From a personal standpoint, I hardly watched the game after the under-eight media timeout as DePaul was that checked out. Seton Hall’s improved ball movement was put on full display to the tune of six guys picking up two or more assists and three Pirates (Desi, Jones, Carrington) tallying four.

This was the perfect game prior to a grueling three-game road trip in six days. Kevin Willard was able to get his second team into the game with around 12 minutes to play and limit his primary horses to about 20-25 minutes played. Willard had some interesting things to say about the road trip scheduling (stay tuned…), but the extra minutes got Myles Powell going a little bit and Dalton Soffer even saw a pair of threes go through the net. On another note, the team is nearly 100-percent from the flu bug that went around a week ago and has no significant injuries.

Angel Delgado is inching closer to being one of Seton Hall’s all-time greats when all is said and done. He is one double-double away from matching Eddie Griffin’s modern school record of 10 consecutive double-doubles and is seven rebounds shy of surpassing Adrian Griffin (803) on the all-time rebounds list. And in case you have forgot, Angel still has another year of eligibility.

The atmosphere was cozy-at-best. It’s hard to point blame since a Devils’ game tonight forced a noon tip which turned out to be in the midst of a mini snowstorm; it was still coming down in Newark as of 4PM and roads in Mercy County were very bad as of 5:30PM (took me 2:45 to get home). The crowd was loud when they needed to be but were afforded the luxury to leave much earlier than expected and the loudest they got were probably when a student nearly hit a half court shot to win everyone Chik-fil-A sandwiches during a media timeout.

Five quotes (and one):

Desi Rodriguez on moving himself to the second team in practice: “After we lost to Creighton, I went on the opposite team in practice. I was playing with the second team instead of the first team. I wanted to challenge everybody more and I wanted people to challenge me. I was playing against Khadeen in practice. I think that helped me today come out better defensively … It was my decision. Coach mentioned to me that I should want to play against Ish in practice ‘cause he’s a great defender. I took that advice and I went on the second team and this whole week we had great practices.”

Kevin Willard on what turned the game around and how Desi Rodriguez played: “I thought we came out in the second half with really good defensive intensity, got some easy buckets, passed the ball much better than we have in the last 3 or four games … He [Desi] got two post ups and he got easy buckets and I thought that really got him going. Where in some games in the past he’s missed a 3 to start, I thought the 2 easy looks Angel gave him on the two post ups got his motor going.

On what made the team click offensively: “We had a good week of practice, where we really talked about doing less 1-on-1 in transition and being more simple. Even Angel making the simpler passes out of double teams, looking for the right guys. I thought we had a very effective week of practice on offense, we didn’t spend as much time on defense, we spent more time on offense. ”

When asked if this was the best defense the team has played all year: “I thought it was good. We’ve actually been playing really good defense. Our defensive numbers are really skewed because we’ve decided to pass the ball to the other team and let them score layups on us. If you take those 26 steals — they had 11 today — if you take away those 26 where they’ve had 15 layups, if you take away those 30 points and them shooting 15/15, your defensive numbers are pretty solid. We’ve been defending pretty well all year, we’re making a conscious effort not to give the ball to the other team and say ‘Here have a lay-up’ because those kill your defensive numbers.”

Myles Powell on getting fouled for four-point play and him knowing Eli Cain, who he called one of his best friends: “We were talking about it, and he was saying he was going to hit more threes than me so after I hit the three I ran over to the bench and told him that was for him … He started talking junk about that [Cain’s three over him in first half] … I got the last laugh, we beat them by 30.

Angel Delgado when asked about breaking Eddie Griffin’s record: “If I get 1 point, 1 rebound and we win, I’m good with that. It’s not about me, it’s about if the team wins. If he got 10, I hope I get like 20, but I really don’t care. If we lose and I get 20, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be happy about that … I don’t look at it in that way like I’ve got to get a double-double. I look at the score and if we’re winning, I’m happy, if we’re losing, I’m not happy with that.”

  • Adam D

    The photo of the DePaul coach looking at Billy Garrett Jr pretty much sums up DePaul’s last couple of years in the Big East.

    • A good but depressing shot. On the surface it’s amazing that he never transferred, but then again his father is on the staff, so that would be interesting.

      • Matty P

        He’s been a good basketball player for them over these 4 years. It’s unfortunate for him that Depaul never was able to rise out of that bottom tier. I certainly wouldn’t have minded him being in a pirate uniform these past 4 years.

  • PadrePirate

    Amen to this week’s New Year’s resolutions: fewer 1-on-1 drives, more passing, and no more TOs for give away layups. I guess I can live with the 50% FTs if we can keep up those three things

    • They really cut down on them after opening flurry of TOs, but small sample size. Huge point of emphasis, in my opinion. Can’t be near/at the bottom of power conferences in FT% and assist rate.

      • PadrePirate

        21 dimes is a great effort for this team which averages only 12/gm, near the bottom of D-1. Let’s hope that trend continues. It seems like when our guys encounter a tough zone, they lose their bearings and revert back to solo jumpers or drives.

        I like the way this team looked after a week of good practice, but during this road trip they won’t have a week to prepare for each opponent.

  • VinBick

    Fun times at the Rock. This team is rolling and showing it can follow up on last year’s big achievements. Love the way the players are interacting unselfishly and supportive of each other. And, as fans we should note that Kevin Willard is handling his troops well. It was great to see the classy move by KW to pull off the dogs with 12 minutes to go, and let the whole team enjoy the playing experience. The Hall suffered in the past when “big time” coaches poured it on us during down years. Coach K beat us by 50 plus one year.
    We paid him back in the Dance in ’89. God has a long arm!

    What was most impressive yesterday was the defensive pressure on DePaul. They were looking so good against Villanova on offense. Our guys are improving each game.

    • Also notable that Leitao had his press on for some stretches of the last 10 minutes with his team down 25-30. Interesting… to say the least

  • shufaninva

    So what did Willard have to say about the scheduling of a three game road trip?

    • Matty P

      If you check out the SHU Athletics facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/shuathletics/) they have Willard’s post game interview, or at least a portion of it. Based on what I took away from it he wasn’t happy and felt they were screwed, which he feels like has happened each season he’s been at SHU. He also mentioned he wasn’t happy about only getting 2 days to prepare for Nova on the road.

      • PadrePirate

        I have nothing to compare with, not knowing the other teams BE schedules, but I’m sure every team has a tough stretch or two in their schedule. In those situations, it comes down to grit and the all the prior preparation you’ve put up to that point. I really like the way this team looked this week, after a good week of practice, but that’s a luxury that you don’t always get.

        • Matty P

          I haven’t looked at each teams schedule either, but as you mentioned I’m sure each team has a tough stretch that they need to go through. I would have to guess our schedule might end up slightly more difficult then some other schools in the conference due to playing at the Prudential Center and having to compete with the Devils and other events for time.

    • You can click the other link provided, or you can see tomorrow in my Marquette preview 🙂

  • Matt

    Any predictions on how many wins we finish with for the regular season? I’m at 17

    • Matty P

      So you’d be predicting we only win 5 more games of the remaining 15 games. If that is the case I know personally I would be disappointed. Also if that is the case then it’s unlikely this team gets a bid for the tournament unless they win the BE tournament.

      My prediction for the season would be 20 wins prior to the BE tournament. I think the team will win at worst 5 of the 7 games against the lower tier (Georgetown, St John’s, Providence, and Depaul). Then I think they should be able to get the extra 3 wins from the games against the top tier (Butler, Xavier, Nova, and Creighton) since 4 of those 7 games will be at home which I think there will be a lot of energy in the building for those games. If they can accomplish this they should be able to avoid a bad loss and pick up a couple good wins going into the BE tournament which should set them up for the NCAA tournament.

      • Matt

        I’m not confident this year because those other BE teams have shown signs of playing very well also. Georgetown I think will take 1 and St. Johns the same. I don’t see SHU sweeping either of them. Providence maybe sweep and DePaul likely since we took 1 but they can come out to shoot like they did vs. Villanova. I think Xavier will sweep us.. Creighton matched up real well at the guard spot. Villanova will split, and Butler the same.

        I guess I’m just unsure looking ahead. Their schedule is not great. 3 games against ranked teams coming up and 3 road games.

        • Matty P

          I guess I see it a little differently with Georgetown and St. John’s, bc I can see them sweeping both of them. I haven’t been impressed with Georgetown this year and they’ve already started off 0-4 in BE play. St John’s has improved but still isn’t at SHU’s level and will probably be in the bottom 3 this year. Also SHU playing St John’s at MSG instead of Carnesecca is a difference maker for me. If the game were at Carnesecca I would say it could easily go either way because of the environment.

          I also think we could win against Xavier. I think if you can limit Bluiett or Sumner and you have a decent shot at beating them. A good example of this is how they barely came away with a win against Georgetown since Bluiett had trouble scoring.

        • Joe Schmoe

          Games Left… lets look at the buckets of “3” approach wth likely outcomes in parenths

          @ Marquette
          @Providence
          @ Villanova (L)

          Best case for this three 2-1, worst case 1-2

          vs St Johns
          Vs Butler
          @ Xavier (L)

          BC 2-1, WC 1-2

          @ Georgetown
          Vs Providence
          @ St Johns

          BC 3-0, WC 2-1

          vs Creighton
          vs Nova
          vs Xavier

          BC 2-1, WC 1-2

          @ Depaul (W)
          vs Gerogetown (W)
          @ Butler (L)

          2-1

          Best Case season is 13-5 BE… “worst” case is 9-9 BE for 19-11 record heading into the BET. Not enough to get into tourny, would need to win 2-3 games in tourny to advance to NCAA.

          Obviously, if things fall apart they fall apart, but this team is solid. I predict some upset wins. and a 12-6 BE record.

        • PadrePirate

          For me, this team remains a bit of an enigma. They still have the tendency to rev up their play vs. more competitive opponents and dumb down to lesser ones. I think this could be a 20 win team (before BET), so something like 10-8 overall in Conf seems safe. I hope I’m wrong and they surprise us, but I’ve seen a lot of holes in our offensive game and the most other BE teams look pretty strong to me. I think we’ll have a better idea after this 3 game road trip which will say a lot about what kind of motor we’ve really got under the hood.

      • Matt

        Thinking about it more…who has SHU beat? South Carolina without their best player? They haven’t proven much to me except that they are a good team and won’t lose to bad ones often.

        • Matty P

          Agreed schedule wise they haven’t shown much regarding who they’ve beat. I would say they had a chance at beating a Florida team who’s shown they should be in the top 25-30 and beat a Cal team which should make the tournament. I don’t think this SHU team should be included in the great teams, but I certainly think they should be included with the good ones in the top 40ish range and make it to the tournament.

        • hallstorm

          I’m not one to predict any outcomes–I think it only sets things up for disappointment. I really believe taking one game at a time (even as a fan).

          But, since you bring it up, let’s look at some other teams in the current bracketology around SHU’s seeding:

          SMU is a good one. They are 14-3 with quality wins against Pitt (who just lost to Syracuse and got pummeled by St. John’s and lost to [Big East] 0-4 Georgetown), TCU (not exactly a tested team) and they creamed Stanford by 23.

          They do, however, have questionable losses against Michigan (a blowout by 22) and Boise State. They are a 7 seed.

          How about Wichita State? They are also 13-3 with a win against LSU (by 35!) as their only quality win. They lost to a struggling Michigan State and a mediocre Oklahoma State (at home). They are a 10 seed.

          How about…..Iowa State? Current 8 seed.

          Quality wins: Miami (impressive) and Texas Tech

          Losses to Cincinnati and Iowa (the same team we beat earlier).

          There is no conclusive answer, but Seton Hall is right where it needs to be. I think the loss to Stanford hurts a little, but Florida (which was a winnable game) and Creighton are respectable losses.

          Let’s see how the remaining January games play out. 3 away games and 2 home games. None of them easy.

        • PadrePirate

          W’s over Cal, SC, and MU, all ranked in top 50 by KenPom.
          L’s to Gators (14), Jays (19) respectable, though Stanford (115) will likely continue to fall.

    • Joe Schmoe

      5-10 to finish out the rest of the season would be a disaster…

    • PadrePirate

      That would be pretty disappointing. Hope you’re wrong. Anything less than 20 would kind of stink and not help our already thin recruiting.

  • Louie Dee

    We have horrible free throw shooters. Can we please get it together.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Coach said 50% FT shooting is acceptable

  • Joe Schmoe

    Its games like Saturday that make me believe this team can beat anyone anywhere when we are firing on all cylinders. hopefully this is a sign of the team maturing and gelling together…the next stretch of three road games will be a tough test.

    • Matty P

      As you mentioned I’m hoping that this is the start of the team gelling together from the extra practice time. I’m sure it was difficult for that to happen with all the traveling, but with a full week of productive practice hopefully it will be the beginning of them playing good team basketball. If they can continue to share the basketball and learn to limit turnovers this team has a much better chance coming away with a couple wins against the top of the league.

  • PadrePirate

    Watching the MU vs Nova game. Freshman Markus Howard (SG?) is impressive. The kid’s only 17. Marquette doesn’t seem to have much of a post game this year.