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.
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.”