Five Thoughts, Five Quotes: Seton Hall smashes Southern Miss 81-56 at Battle 4 Atlantis

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Seton Hall overcame a concerning six-minute offensive drought to handle Southern Miss rather easily, 81-56.

Myles Powell (18p, 5r) had an off night but led the team in scoring while Sandro Mamukelashvili (14p, 7r, 4a) had several bursts where he dominated the game.

The Pirates seemed to rebound from their late collapse against Oregon and used a balanced start to lead 22-11 before a 1-of-10 field goal streak over 6:11 allowed Southern Miss to claw within 26-24.

Seton Hall fans everywhere were having flashbacks to just 24 hours prior.

But a late first half push back including five points from freshman Tyrese Samuel and a three from Shavar Reynolds Jr. gave Seton Hall a 40-31 advantage that turned into a double digit lead they wouldn’t relinquish after scoring the first bucket of the second half.

Quincy McKnight had an injury scare after collapsing to the floor mid-way through the second half, but the replay showed the non-contact injury appeared to be another cramp while he leapt for the ball, as opposed to on the way back down. His leg locked up and he was carried to the bench but was later spotted walking quickly to the locker room with the team trainer and ruled out of the game due to cramps with six minutes remaining, likely to rest him for Iowa State.

Five Thoughts

The integration of Tyrese Samuel (10p, 2a) continued tonight. He played well in the first half against Oregon before Kevin Willard said he hurt his thigh and Samuel earned some more minutes again tonight, sometimes alongside Sandro and sometimes in his place. This development is multi-faceted: Any complacency from Sandro should be gone with a talented freshman breathing down his neck and getting minutes for freshmen like Samuel early in a season always bodes well in the long term.

These five-plus minute offensive lulls are becoming an issue. Seton Hall doubled up Southern Miss 36-18 in the first half outside of the 6:14 span that allowed a 13-4 Golden Eagle surge among a sudden wave of impotence from the Pirates on the offensive end (1/10 from field). Sound familiar? Better teams can and will take advantage, especially when Seton Hall’s defense mentally wilts a bit as a side effect.

It bares repeating that Seton Hall received a rough draw having Southern Miss on their side of the bracket. And not because of how strong they are, quite the opposite. The Golden Eagles haven’t beaten a D-I opponent with losses to South Alabama and North Florida and were 17-point underdogs. Even more quirkier is facing Iowa State in the final Battle 4 Atlantis game, setting up extremely rare back-to-back non-conference games with one opponent; Seton Hall heads to Ames on December 8th.

The supporting cast is hard to predict. Sandro on the bench for Florida A&M and Myles Cale (5p, 5r, 2a) sitting for over 12 straight minutes tonight starting during Southern Miss’ first half run are two examples of guys appearing to have off nights. But while various guys will disappear for stretches, it also seems like someone else takes the baton and steps up — Sandro led the pack in that respect tonight and Jared Rhoden (9p, 4r) seemed to more directly pick up the slack for Cale.

After losing out to Oregon on the glass, Seton Hall finished +18 (41-23) tonight. Rebounding was one of the rare areas that Southern Miss do have positive KenPom stats, but the Pirates rebounded, pun very much intended; it was a team effort, six Pirates snared four or more rebounds.

Five Quotes from Kevin Willard on AM970

Opening statement: “We’re all disappointed after last night, not in our effort just with just the fact that we lost a close game. I was disappointed with these guys throughout the day. Sometimes after a tough loss, the best thing about these tournaments you get to jump right back on [the court]. Our attitude with all this preseason hype and all the rankings and stuff, we’ve lost– I wouldn’t say we lost — our edge of what helped got us here has, I would say, softened a little bit.

“It’s not practice because these guys practice hard and get after it, it’s more within the game. We get to a point where we relax and go into this ‘We can coast now’ and all of a sudden bad things happen. It was like that in the first half … I can see it, I can see it in the body language. I haven’t really yelled at this group tremendously, but I kind of lost it at halftime. I said ‘I just want to see through 20 minutes the edge where we constantly have to be on the attack.’ We can’t afford to relax, we’re not built that way.”

On Myles Cale, unprovoked: “I got on Myles Cale, I’m done being nice to Myles Cale. I love him, he’s such a good kid but I said to him ‘You’re going to get the Desi Rodriguez treatment from now on. You’re not going to like me, you’re not going to like it but I expect so much more.’ He’s such a good kid, he’s got such a mild manner, I think I take it easy on him sometimes, but I didn’t take it easy at halftime. Then all of a sudden I see an aggressive Myles Cale, getting to the rim, diving on the floor and he goes from being a minus on the stat sheet to a guy who is looking like he played last year. He needs to play with that edge.”

When asked about point guard position: “Ant [Nelson] was late to a team meeting today which kind of got me going in the wrong direction from the start. When I put him out there, he had bad body language and I’m not going to put up with bad body language. It’s just not going to happen but everyone knows me, that’s gone, that was today. Quincy was just cramping up. [Tomorrow] Ant is right back to where he was.”

On Myles Powell’s off game and minutes management: “With the amount of time that he’s missed with the ankle and he missed a week with a hip, I’m still trying to get him back. He’s not even a tenth of what I think he’ll be by time Big East play comes around. I want that scoring title bad, I think I want it more than him. I have a number in my mind that he has to get each night, so that’s a big factor too.”

On adjusted expectations: “Last night was disappointing. I haven’t slept yet but I still love who we are as a team. We’re five points from two wins and that was my other message to this team. I know the Twitter-verse is probably going nuts. I wouldn’t even think about getting on Twitter. Some guy today was killing me in the elevator, it was comical. He actually thought I would care what he said. I was telling the guys, we’re still that team. If people are going to jump off the bandwagon, great, just less people to pull around. I still have tremendous confidence in this basketball team … People who are really, really annoying in elevators and say stuff– I always say, I love the fact that I can make a grown man that miserable and never meet him. Now they know what my wife goes through. I haven’t slept. I was miserable last night, I’m glad my dog wasn’t around.”

On Sandro’s big game: “I yell at Sandro all the time. I think Sandro is as good a player as there is. He gets really down on himself … [names example] … ‘I’m like my man, you’re a junior and a heck of a player.’ … The more he gets comfortable with shooting the basketball, I think it’s going to help him because he’s still a little gun-shy … He’s a great passer, he’s got a great feel for the game and if you watch us on defensively, he does so many good things defensively. He needs to rebound a little bit better but he knows that.”