“The little things”: Seton Hall out-seniored by Xavier in physical 73-64 loss

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NEWARK, N.J. — This was a game that one would expect a senior-rich Seton Hall to win, or at least put up a stiffer resistance in defeat.

Instead of taking control of a gritty Big East game after the Hall went up 42-32 just two minutes into the second half, it was another senior-laden team in Xavier that got the job done at Prudential Center.

After being doused in “J.P. sucks!” chants from the student section, J.P. Macura took over and scored 18 in the second half and 27 on the day to lead his team to an impressive road win, and a conversely disappointing loss for Seton Hall, who have now dropped three of four.

“The crowd was great, and I thought our energy was great, but you have to give J.P. Macura credit because he really did something in the last four minutes that swung the whole game,” observed Kevin Willard.

“I thought Xavier did a good job of going big and long on us again. I thought they were big and physical. I thought we had some good looks, but you have to give Xavier credit being really physical with us and [they] got into us.”

Macura’s approach to the game is the definition of senior play. Great shooters and adept passers come and go frequently, but his Derrick Gordon-like intangibles are what set him apart from the pack and are an attribute that Xavier edged the Pirates in today.

Just ask the king of tough play, Ismael Sanogo, who scored eight and pulled down five offensive boards in the loss.

“We just had mental lapses, not boxing out, certain plays we let them get going, let J.P. get going,” said Sanogo of what did his team in.

“He’s the X-factor of that team, once he gets going, they’re a very good team.”

Even after coughing up a ten-point cushion, Seton Hall still had plenty of opportunities down the stretch to make up for it, but they could only manage 13 points over the final ten minutes after leading 51-47.

Three key missed free throws, sub-par decision making on offense, just-missed shots — the little things cost the Pirates today during the final quarter of play.

“It’s always disappointing when you play your hardest and you mess up on the little things and that costs you the game,” said an ambassador-like Sanogo, who answered to all media before Khadeen Carrington would finally join him.  “It’s our mental toughness, finishing plays off at the end and we’ll be fine.”

Carrington, who shot 0-7 from deep and is now 0-17 from long range (“I’m not going to call it a slump”) since going 12-for-21 against Butler and St. John’s, concurred. 

“A few little things. A little box-out here or there. Second chance points, that’s basically it,” said a clearly dejected Carrington. “Mental toughness. Finishing defensive plays. That’s basically the main two [things to work on] right there.”

Interestingly, Sanogo going down with an injury to his right shoulder at the 9:27 mark surely added to the downfall. Sanogo would return during the under-four timeout and said “I had a little scare for a bit, but I’m fine” regarding the injury.

“Ish going out hurt us a lot,” said Willard.

“Ish going out at the time he did really took a little bit out of our energy. Even though Mike [Nzei] did a good job, the way Ish was playing with his energy and his defensive presence stopped us from getting out on the break.”

Taking a look at the big picture, Seton Hall has their worst KenPom rating of the season, have lost three of four, and have their first losing streak since late last January.

They will drop out of the top-25 on Monday and have a week off to think about things before taking on DePaul next Sunday.

Gut-check time?

“Not at all. Every team goes through a rough stretch,” said Willard.

“Xavier lost two in a row and everyone said it’s the end of that, and Creighton loses by 30 at Xavier and everyone says what’s wrong with them. You’re going to hit a tough stretch in this conference … I have total confidence in where we are, we just need to get back to doing some little things.”

Well we lost two in a row, so not that well,” assessed Carrington of where his team is at.

“Like you said, we have a bye week, so we can work on things and just get back to ourselves.”

  • LBP

    Hard to take this loss. Carrington is in a slump
    Why Coach KW put Desi in with 2 fouls in first half was a mystery–everyone knew Macura would bait him into a 3rd–( our entire section called it) — why M. Cale –who looked like he was gaining confidence on O and whom played great on D ( as did Walker) in the first half –does not spell M. Powell in 2nd half is pure mystery. Look , the Refs were horrid but if Deeno shoot 5/20 -the Hall will lose.No need to complicate this situation with not having some fresher legs for the End Game.
    Bottom line === bad Game by Refs; Bad Game by Deeno; and , Bad nite for Coach is just not a formula that will work.

  • cali jack

    Well folks its time to look in the mirror and face reality.We’re a good team but not a great team.We’ll drop out of the top 25 this week which I hope motivates the seniors.The biggest deficiency ,as everyone knows and only KW will not admit,is we don’t have a PG.KC is a good SG but he’s a horrible PG and JW is a freshmen and not ready for the big stage.Unfortunately,none of this is going to change this year so somehow we’ll have to deal with it the best we can. At minimum,JW needs to get more minutes and we’ll see how he and the team respond to that.I’m tired of watching KC and DR dribbling on the perimeter,passing to each other,throwing up missed 3 pointers and turning the ball over The offense has absolutely no flow.Looks like a street ball game in NYC..In KC and JW defense this is on Willard for whiffing on Aiken,Duval,Washington,Alvardo and who knows how many other PG recruits.On the positive side, we brought good energy hustled and played good defense for the most part.Sanogo and Cale played great.Cale also needs to get more minutes to help us now and in the future.We’ll make the tournament but don’t see us going deep. Deficiencies are talent and position based.The season is now squarely in the seniors hands.I don’t think KW has the balls or creativity to turn this around.

    • PadrePirate

      Last phrase sums up my feelings on this situation. Some adjustments need to be made in the rotation and offensive sets, but I just don’t see him doing much. He’s a “dance with the fella who brought you here” type. We’ll squeak by DePaul but the underlying problems will remain. I think it would take a blow out loss or two more losses in a row before we might see any tangible changes.

      • cali jack

        I hope KW finds a bigger job after the season concludes.I’d like to see us get Danny Hurley.Lets get some fire and balls.

        • Pirate_Law

          Sadly I think RI to the Hall is too much of a lateral move (not saying theyre completely equal). I think Hurley stays at RI until a significantly more major school comes looking for him. We’d have had more of a chance to lure him away with our current group of seniors but not with what will be left.

        • Joe J

          If this group of seniors fail to win a single
          NCAA tourney game in 4 years Willard should go. No more excuses. If he can’t get the job done with these players then he never will. Louis Orr did a lot more with less talent in his tenure and he got fired. Coaches should be judged on those games and Willard has failed so far. He must win at least a game this year

          • shu_92

            While I agree with you that it would be a massive disappointment if we don’t win a game in March, don’t forget this is the strongest the programs been in 25 years and built for long term success.

          • cali jack

            That may be true but its built solely on one recruiting class ie Whitehead,Delgado,Rodriguez,Sanogo,Nzei and Carrington. That class is about to graduate and what has he produced behind that?I think he represents the university very well,graduates kids who stay out of trouble which is highly commendable.However,as a BB coach who get paid to win he’s very average at best.

          • Joe J

            Very true. That window is closing fast. If Willard can’t win a tournament game with this group (the best team talent wise in 25 years) how will he fare next year and beyond with less talent? Not very promising. He may even leave on his own after this year to buy himself more time somewhere else. He knows how it works.

          • lizadin

            nzei is a junior.

          • Mike Walsh

            The best player on this team is a sophomore – Powell. Thompson was a starter as a freshman at Syracuse. Cale and Walker will not disappoint, I believe that Mamu will be very good. Nzei is here for another year. YES, THEY ARE BUILT FOR SUCCESS.

    • LFR

      Very good summary. I especially liked your last sentence: Willard is lacking in key areas, and it shows in games like this one.

  • Joseph Attanasi

    Extremely disappointed with the last 10 minutes of the game today. It was a game that was there for us to take, but Xaiver obviously wanted it more.

    A couple of observations. Our starters can’t continue to play these crazy amount of minutes (Delgado-39, Powell-38, Carrington-37) and hope to beat the better teams in the conference on a consistent basis. They all looked out of gas over the last 10 minutes, only scoring 13 points. They missed shots they had been making and turned the ball over on numerous occasions. They weren’t the same team that controlled the game for the first 30 minutes. Willard appears to to not have confidence in his bench, but the he needs to trust Cale, Walker, Sandro & Gordon a little more. They may not be 100% ready, but there are no other options. We got to get the starters down to 32-34 minutes a game.

    We continue to have way to much one on one play. Especially when Desi and Khadeen are going one on two or one on three. Desi turned the ball over seven times today. Totally unacceptable and we’ll almost never win when he’s doing that. We are so much better when we move the ball and try and make the extra pass to find the open man.

    Lastly, we need to step things up on defense. Defending the three and boxing out (i.e. J.P. Macura) has really hurt us at times. We give up too many open looks. You won’t beat teams like Xaiver and Creighton playing like that.

    Still hoping we can get things back on track because I think this team has the potential to accomplish some big things in March. These guys can do it, but they need to be willing to put in the necessary effort to make it happen.

    • PadrePirate

      Good points here. What would it take to get this team back on track? What worked in Dec is no longer working. Smart coaches have adjusted and other teams are improving…

    • cali jack

      Agree on bench minutes.Walker isn’t ready to be a prime time BE PG but how much worse than KC can he be for 15 minutes a game?Cale is also ready to play 15 minutes a game.Let them play thru their mistakes.KW gives KC and DR that opportunity.

      • shu_92

        I heard a couple people float the idea to start Walker and have Powell come off the bench. It would allow Carrington to ease into games at his natural position and It would give us the best 6th man in the Big East.

        • lizadin

          I’m sure KC wishes he was back to his natural position

          • Ardy

            I think KC would work out better for the team as a 6th man as a experienced combo guard. Don’t know if his ego could handle it. KC knows Powell is clearly a much better SG than KC.hands down eventhough he is a sophomore.

      • Matty P

        I don’t feel Walker is ready for major mins in a game, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t get maybe 10 mins a game to provide energy off the bench. I think Cale is the player that should see 15 mins a game to come in for either Desi or Powell. Willard is going to need these guys to come in and at least hold serve during the game to give the seniors a rest to catch their breath.

    • slats33

      Please man. Enough with the ‘too many minutes’excuses. So weak. They’re in college

      • shu_92

        When opposing teams are sending waves of fresh bigs at Delgado to beat him up for 39 minutes a game it makes a massive difference in his play. He was worn down and rightfully so. The dude needs 3 or 4 minutes a half on the bench. I think Carrington and Powell can handle the minutes but I would like to see them get a couple more minutes of rest too.

      • Joseph Attanasi

        The point isn’t can they play 37-39 minutes a game, of course they can. It’s what it does to them by the end of the game. Playing that many minutes is a recipe for losing.

        When you starters are playing all those minutes and virtually play the entire second half, and the other team is going 8-9 deep, the results are going to be exactly what you saw today. The Xavier players had much more energy the last 10 minutes of the game and our guys were sucking wind and couldn’t make a shot. We were getting beat on the boards and we were slow to every loose ball.

        A few less minutes for the starters equals much stronger, fresher players at the end of the game and it probably would have meant a win today.

        • slats33

          I see your point and largely agree. I guess it speaks to coaching and in game management. Very frustrating loss for this group.

          • Joseph Attanasi

            Yes, we are all very frustrated. I totally get that. I’m just not ready to jump ship yet. We can’t forget the last two years and how these guys somehow were able to turn losing streaks in January into great stretch runs. Because of that, I think we owe it to them to give them a little more time and see how this plays out.

    • Matty P

      Completely agree that they need to get the starters down to around 32-34 mins a game. Willard is going to need to trust a couple of the guys off the bench to pick up some of those mins. No reason why someone like Nzei can’t pick up some of the mins for Delgado if Willard doesn’t feel comfortable with giving Mamu extended mins. Cale actually looked comfortable on the offensive end today, but was only able to manage 11 mins.

      One thing that continues to frustrate me after 4 years is that Desi never seems to pass off his drives. So often he’s able to draw most of the defense into the paint, but he very rarely passes to someone who would be open around the arc.

  • SHU95

    I think we were all hopefull that we would have a deeper bench this year and it would help propel the team in Conf. Play & in March. Not saying the bench won’t come along some between now & March, hopefully they will. However, here in mid January, we are not a Deep team. Xavier’s bench went 4 deep with a combined 80+ minutes. We went 4 deep as well, with a combined 25 min… Many of which were Myles Cale who played due to Desi’s foul trouble in the first half. Xavier was the fresher and more energized team the last five minutes.

  • slats33

    No bench, lousy “coaching”. Willard has been lucky. McDermott, Mack, Wojo, Wright, Ed Cooley, LaVall Jordan even. Those guys coach. Willard does not. He poses. The pirates were out hustled and out coached today. End of story.

    He admitted that he quit with 6 minutes to go at Creighton!

    • Biff Roughneck

      Please cite the source where he admitted he quit at Creighton. I’m not defending Willard, but he has owned Mack and McDermott, and who has more wins, in conference, against Jay Wright, since the re-alignment?

  • Andrew Herbst

    This loss hurts. We played well for 30 minutes, but wore down at the end. I hope Cale and Walker get more playing time. Khadeem needs a break. He looks wore down. This will be a good week for us.

  • Mike Walsh

    Powell is the go to guy and the seniors and coach need to accept that. Cale, Walker and Sandro need to get more playing time to get them seasoned and to give the seniors a break. Trying to hold a lead is a bad strategy when the leaders are worn out.

    • Matty P

      Trying to hold a lead against a top 15 team with worn out players isn’t going to work most of the time. Willard needs to find a way to keep the starters between 30-34 mins which opens up 30-50 mins a game for the bench. If I was Willard the majority of those mins (roughly 20-40 mins) would go to Cale (SG/SF) and Nzei (PF/C) and the remainder (roughly 10 mins) would be split between Walker/Gordon (PG) and Sandro (C).

      • Mike Walsh

        I was at the game and I just watched again on DVR. The Hall maintained their lead in the first half when Cale and Walker were in. They got a 10 point lead early in the second half, but, didn’t use Walker and Cale to give the seniors a blow. Also, KC and DR trying to do too much in the second half while ignoring Powell. I think that the Hall’s problems are an easy fix, just need to trust Cale, Walker, Gordon, Mamu more and make Powell take 20 shots minimum each game.

        • PadrePirate

          Easy for us, at a distance, but a coach has to deal with chemistry and manage ego’s. This is a test for KW’s softy, “oh, well…” shoulder-shrugging style. A strong, confident coach would sit the guys down and sell his vision: “Guys, I’ve watched the tape, I see what’s wrong, and here’s what we have to do to win ball games…” and it would work. A weak coach is going to just let this crap slide, because he doesn’t want to cut into the seniors’ playing time, and because sometimes they manage to pull it off when emotions ride high and shots fall easy.

    • cali jack

      Agree but Powell also needs to be more aggressive when he gets the ball.Was in position to take some open jumpers yet hesitated and gave the ball back to KC and DR.Wonder about the true chemistry there.

      • Mike Walsh

        Powell did hesitate on some open looks, I think he feels obligated to defer to the seniors. He took about 12 shots tonight and Carrington took 20, those numbers need to be reversed.

        • PadrePirate

          Bingo. Could you send a tweet, email, fax, letter or pigeon to KW this week? We’re waiting for him to get it, but I think he too feels obliged to defer to the seniors.

          • Ardy

            You guys are spot on. Running Powell from onside of the court to the other has to wear the shooter out. When his feet are planted they wave him off the spot. rather than getting shots with his feet planted. Nobody wants to set the pick and risk the foul. MP’s hesitation to shoot was recognizable to everyone including Xavier Creepy.
            SH is a top team and others will make a name for themselves off the Hall every chance they get. SH is not a high school team. This team was supposed to be put together to win? Let’s see what happens.

      • shufaninva

        I think you just came up with a great nickname for Willard. Dr. Wonder. Lol
        I know what you were actually saying, but Dr. Wonder fits Willard perfectly.

  • PadrePirate

    “Dear Mr. Willard, with all due respect, this is not just “a rough stretch.” Things are not going to magically get better. The strategy adopted this season worked most of the time Nov-Dec, but it is no longer working. Successful teams make adjustments and tighten up Jan-Feb. If you don’t make any changes, this team will grind out a few more wins vs lesser BE teams, but they will continue to come up short vs the top half and finish a bubble/NIT team although they have Sweet 16 talent. It’s up to you to form and channel that talent in the right way. The 4 seniors cannot do this alone. Do what it takes.”

  • 11yearplan

    Benching the starting point guard for the second team point guard worked for PJ because his back up was junior, Gerald Green. You will not get the same result benching anyone in place of Walker.

    X’s game plan was simple, take Powell out of the game, which Macura did, and wear down Angel. This left Deeno in position to beat them. He took a lot of good shots that did not fall. Mark of a shooter who has played too many minutes.

    The answer is equally as simple. Give the subs more time. The team will be less productive but they will wealthier the storm and will be fresh at the end.

    A full week off, with emphasis on game planning to have the subs play more and a trip to DePaul will right the ship.

  • VinBick

    Looking ahead to the rest of the regular season schedule and three or tops four wins appear to be the realistic in league production. This team had so much potential; yesterday, the ship sunk. It will be ugly a week from now in the murder capital of the country.

    We can debate the causes here, but the final season results will be a bitter pill for all of Pirate Nation. The Big East has some steller coaches, but with all of the experience and talent that Coach Willard is has at hisdisposal, and not producing a winning team speaks volumes.

    The Pirates may not even win a game in the BE Garden Party. The Big Dance? Forget about it. Another one and done there, too, if they even make the cut.

    • slats33

      I agree. Willard has truly been exposed. It’s unfortunate but he will jettisoned after next season. They can’t compete in this league with the projected starters next year. Powell is the only player they have; maybe Cale if he was coached properly.

      • Mike Walsh

        You must be kidding. They are going to start four players who are 4 star recruits and the 5th player is a 3 star – next year. These young kids don’t look great now, mainly because they are not getting playing time. Our current seniors are one 4 star(Delgado), two – 3 stars(Carrington and Rodriquez) and one 2 star(Sanogo). Aside from Whitehead, the talent on the floor next year will be better than we’ve had in years. Willard needs to trust these young guys now or the end of this year will not go as expected and the beginning of next year will start off slow.

        • slats33

          No I’m not kidding. You must see something I don’t because it looks to me like they just aren’t that good. Don’t really care how many stars they have next to their names. I guess we will find out.

          • lizadin

            We have seen these boys come back again and again..

          • Mike Walsh

            Do you recall when Angel was a freshman, he was always fouling out of games and his emotions were out of control. The difference between Angel and the current freshmen is that Angel got a lot of playing time to work out his shortcomings. The current crop of freshmen are not getting enough playing time to work out the kinks.

          • Biff Roughneck

            Then you must be drunk. Powell, Nzei, Thompson, Cale, Walker, Rhoden, Mamu, though young, are a nice nucleus.

      • lizadin

        nzei has been great, i hope next year is his year.

    • Mike Walsh

      So you are predicting a 8-10 Big East finish, at best????

      • Joseph Attanasi

        If all goes well, we should be no worse than 9-9, but most likely 10-8 or 11-7. Between two against DePaul & Providence, Georgetown, St. John’s, Butler & Marquette, there should be at least 5-6 wins there.

    • Biff Roughneck

      You are, simply put, out of your mind.

  • Mike Walsh

    Yes, the loss hurt. Yes, the coach is relying too heavily on seniors. With each game KW is going to come to the conclusion that he will have to trust the freshman and by the end of the season the team will be much better for it. The HALL has much more talent than last year. Our record at 15-5 is better than last year and we have 3 wins against top 25 teams. We may not win the Big East regular season title, but, all I care about is how we perform come tournament time. EVERYBODY STOP YOUR WHINING!!!

    • lizadin

      I totally agree with you! Negativity helps nothing!

  • Joseph Attanasi

    Just a question. Since we have one pretty good point guard on our coaching staff, why hasn’t he been able to impart his knowledge on how to play the position to Khadeen? I really don’t see any noticable progression in Khadeen becoming a serviceable PG. It’s been kind of one step forward one step back all season.

    Can we give Jordan Walker about 12 minutes a game? Carrington can play the two for half of that time and Powell can play the two the other half. That way KC and MP are only playing 34 minutes a game. They’ll both be fresher at the end of the game. Isn’t it worth a try?

    • Rich Ricci

      The problem is, point guards are born and not created, so all the coaching in the world won’t magically transform Khadeen Carrington into an effective one, Joseph. Point guards have a natural “pass first” mentality, see the floor very well, understand how and when to get the ball to guys where they feel comfortable with it, instinctively know when to attack and when to pull the ball out to reset the offense and have superior ball handling skills, all of which Carrington lacks since he’s a natural shooting guard, which weakens The Hall at two positions.

      As I said in an earlier post, the starting backcourt should be Jordan Walker running the point with Myles Powell at shooting guard and Carrington coming off the bench as combo guard to spell both players, which wouldn’t severely cut down on his minutes. Not only would this give Seton Hall their most efficient and effective team since you’ll have everyone playing their “natural” position”, but you’ll be grooming next year’s backcourt, which is how you build a program, rather than acquiescing into selfish players’ egos based on their seniority!!!

    • lizadin

      I give Carrington a ton of credit for playing PG. Is this something he wanted or was forced into?

  • Mike Walsh

    I cannot believe the comments on this site, I’m guessing that many of you are the type that have a bad couple of days after a loss. The Hall’s best player is a sophomore, Thompson was great as a freshman at SU, he will be great here. Cale and Walker will be good. Nzei is a good player. I think that Mamu will surprise us once he gains confidence.

    • lizadin

      I find it atrocious, true fans would never act like this.