Five thoughts: Willard legacy, seeding & more

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Seton Hall’s bubble burst in thrilling fashion on Saturday afternoon, as they downed No. 13 Butler in a game which will be remembered similarly to Pittsburgh in 2006, though hopefully with a better outcome.

Post-win, below are a couple thoughts on the game yesterday and a few zoomed-out big picture thoughts on the team.

Five thoughts

At what point do we start to discuss Kevin Willard’s legacy? There were a lot of comparisons to the P.J. Carlesimo era last season because of many “first times since…”, but replicating that kind of success two years in a row is remarkable in terms of Seton Hall hoops. There are still a lot of variables at play, but factor in the core that Willard has and some of the incoming talent (and pending talent like Trevon Duval), and the future can be very bright. Remember: Willard was in talks with a realtor to sell his home two years ago.

How good was the guard play down the stretch? Khadeen Carrington scored 12 of his 17 in the second half, most of which came late on, and Myles Powell of course hit those two big three-pointers after a barrage of misses over his last few games — he was officially 0-for-16 dating back to the end of DePaul. Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado largely carried the team offensively to that point, but it seems like the guards excel in a more down-hill attack-attack-attack approach. 

Yet again, Seton Hall set the bar higher for ultimate toughness and resiliency. Like I noted in my quick post-game recap, this was yet another case of bend but not break. Down 10 on the road at Hinkle, extreme foul trouble, your best player on the bench injured, a six-man rotation — and it didn’t matter. I was thinking that only an offensive outburst would turn the game around and while strong defense helped, it was 23 points over the final 7 minutes that did the trick.

How far can this team go? I still don’t think this group is better than last year’s team, but their ability to prove everyone wrong is a wildcard factor at this point. Marquette and then Villanova is the path to the Big East final whereas NCAA seeding is still pending…

On that note, the Pirates are now playing for NCAA seeding. That’s a comforting feeling and it should take some pressure off the team on the court, though who knows if that is a good or bad thing. Seton Hall is now an 8-seed according to Jerry Palm (CBS) while they’re still a 10-seed for Joe Lunardi (ESPN). Regardless, they will need to at least beat Marquette to threaten to get out of the 8-9 game, which almost surely eliminates the chance of making an NCAA run; falling to a 10-seed could actually be better.

As a bonus, check out Gary Cohen’s call of Myles Powell’s big-time three below.