DePaul Notebook: Willard’s knee, Delgado diving on the floor, and more

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With the dust settling and Seton Hall gearing up for a tough road game at Providence on Wednesday, there is still plenty to digest from their close win over DePaul.

From Kevin Willard sitting on the bench for an abnormally long time (it’s not because he has thrown the towel in), to Angel Delgado diving on the court (and the status of his bum knee), plus an interesting stat of just how much Desi Rodriguez carried the team offensively, we’ll cover all the loose ends below.

While I didn’t notice it yesterday, I did observe that Willard had been occupying the first seat on the bench a bit more over the past few games, and thought little of it besides it being a break in his usual sideline coaching routine.

Associate head coach Shaheen Holloway assuming the role of a head coach and manning the sideline at times plus assistant Grant Billmeier’s lung-busting instructions while the Pirates defended took precedent with many fans and media taking notice.

Willard was asked about it yesterday, and he explained at length that it’s due to an injured meniscus that he’ll have to take care of after the season. It was refreshing to hear more of the human side from him.

“I have a really bad wheel right now. My right knee is swollen like a cantaloupe, it just — I have to exercise this year or I’ll probably have a heart attack, and I won’t stop — I have to get surgery at the end of the year on it, and so — I just — right now, I could feel it throbbing.

“I was on a treadmill last July, and it stopped and started, and I tore some of my meniscus. I wasn’t going to ruin my August golf season — I was stubborn — I thought it would go away, and it hasn’t gone away, and now I’m stubborn because I need to work out this time of year to relieve stress, and it’s getting worse. Once the season’s over, the doctor is going to scope me and take care of it.”

“I actually — I never get to sit and talk to our guys when they come out of the game — it’s actually nice. You can have a conversation with them and it’s not in the huddle, it’s not — Sha (associate head coach Shaheen Holloway) does a great job, so I’m not worried about that aspect — but it’s nice to sit down and talk to your guys in a different way while the game’s going on, and I get a chance to be the guy that pumps them up a little bit. Unfortunately, it’s just a bad wheel.”

Conspiracy theory debunked.

Moving on, Desi Rodriguez claimed that yesterday was the first time he had seen Angel Delgado dive on the floor — Delgado did so at least once mid-way through the first half after Seton Hall started sluggishly on the defensive end. Coincidentally, the two had discussed the matter the day prior in practice.

“It was good, that was probably the first time in my career ever seeing him dive on the floor like that,” said Rodriguez of Delgado’s intensity.

“We definitely talked about that, yesterday actually. I said, ‘Yo A, why you can’t jump on the floor?’ and he said ‘I’m too big’ and I was like ‘You’re not too big to jump on the floor’ and he did it today and I was surprised and it set the tone and got the momentum going.”

“I can’t even get up right now,” joked an ice pack-wielding Delgado post-game.

“I have to leave everything on the court right now. Like I said, it’s our Super Bowl. I want to win this game so bad.”

On that topic, Angel is playing a bit less than 100-percent due to the dislocated knee cap he suffered in the first half of the Marquette game. 

As a result, Kevin Willard is not practicing the big man in order to avoid unnecessary knocks on his knee that could aggravate the injury. 

“I stopped practicing the big fella just because I really want to take care of that knee,” said Willard.

“It’s fine, he feels good — he doesn’t even have to get therapy on it — but it’s one of those things in practice where I’m just worried about him bumping knees with somebody and then all of a sudden, it flares back up.”

Delgado was comical but serious in his response to how he’s taking not practicing. 

“You don’t even know. I just look at him [puts on angry face, laughs]. I be so mad when he told me just stay on the bike.  I hate the bike. I’m just mad about that, I’ve never missed a practice before, I’ve never missed a game. I don’t want to miss a game. Every time he takes me out at practice because I like to practice, that’s when I get better.”

“Right now I feel a little better for my knee. I didn’t even think I was hurt, I didn’t think of nothing like that, I just play.

“It’s better, you see me on the floor today,” continued Angel when I pressed him on his status.

“It’s getting better, I’m getting rehab tomorrow, I’m going to lift my legs so they can get a little stronger. I’ll be good for Providence because we need those wins, we need to get to 20 right now, that’s the most important thing.”

Lastly, Desi Rodriguez carried the offense as a whole, but especially late in the game. His play kept freshman Myles Cale glued to the bench despite his impressive cameo in the first half.

“Myles Cale played really well in the first half, and then Desi just had it going,” explained Willard.

“I wanted to slide him in there for Myles Powell, but I was hoping Myles Powell would make a shot for us and kind of get — but Myles was passing the ball tremendous. He draws so much attention. Again, I think the freshmen have been really progressing great.”

Here’s the stat: Over the final 13:48 of yesterday’s game, aside from one Angel Delgado lay-up, Desi Rodriguez was the only Pirate to sink a field goal. 

The negative side of that is obvious: Seton Hall put all their eggs in one basket, and their offense (spacing, passing) didn’t look as good as it did in the first half, but the end result was ultimately a ‘W’.