Notebook: Seton Hall loses Sandro, game in 77-66 defeat at Iowa State

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Clashing with Iowa State for the second game in a row, Seton Hall lost forward Sandro Mamukelashvili to a wrist injury early and would struggle on offense in a 77-66 loss on the road.

Five Thoughts

The team didn’t start well offensively, and Sandro’s injury only made things worse. Seton Hall’s defense was up for it albeit the game’s overall flow seemed a bit sloppy and had some poor shot selection from both sides, but the offense used all the borrowed time given to them in this one. Iowa State was woeful from the line early on, the Pirates were 8-30 (26%) from three, and both teams shot sub-40 percent in an overall ugly game for about 30 minutes considering what these two teams are capable of. Seton Hall saw a 4:24 scoring drought and the game featured several spans where both teams failed to score for over three minutes.

The extent of Sandro Mamukelashvili’s wrist injury is TBD. Sandro came down extremely hard and awkwardly on what looked like a combination of his right forearm, shoulder and head at 15:13 in the first half after his lower body was taken out from under him while airborne for a rebound. It seemed like Sandro was primarily holding his head while being attended to on the court before emerging from the locker room several minutes later with a soft bandage and heavy ice on his wrist, being escorted by Iowa State medical staff. Sandro was not seen on the bench for a long stretch of time until appearing in street clothes cheering on his team in the second half.

Edit (12/8, 11:30PM) — Kevin Willard confirmed an x-ray was performed and Sandro has broken a bone in his wrist. He specifically mentioned Tyrese Samuel and Jared Rhoden as the two primary guys he will call upon during Sandro’s prolonged absence.

Adapting to losing Sandro on the fly on the road is tough. But I’m not fully sold on Seton Hall not having any options besides Sandro and Powell, as if this was automatically a lost cause as soon as he left the court. Many words can be written about all those tertiary options, but Myles Cale and Quincy McKnight are the pair that need to step up the most, in my eyes. Just one non-Powell point was scored from 11:08 to 2:13 in the second half.

The supporting cast stepped up early in the second half. All that said, the bench showed the sort of production that needs to be tapped into more frequently. Deep in the middle of a 14-minute Powell scoring drought, a series of big buckets from Anthony Nelson, Romaro Gill, Shavar Reynolds Jr., and Jared Rhoden kept the team’s offense chugging along and prevented this one from getting ugly. Willard appeared to opt for a smaller lineup with Reynolds instead of Tyrese Samuel despite Samuel being the more like-for-like replacement with Sandro sidelined.

What is the answer to more structured point guard play? Anthony Nelson had three of the team’s measly four assists at the half in only eight minutes and seems to be the most efficient distributor over small stretches. Willard has been very public about Nelson’s body language and it affecting minutes, but it seems Nelson facilitating the offense needs to be tapped into more at the expense of someone like McKnight, Reynolds, or even Cale.

Quotes from Kevin Willard on AM970

On Sandro’s wrist injury: “They took an X-ray and it looks like he broke one of the bones. The cardiologist, we haven’t been able to reach him. I don’t think he’s on call on Sundays. We won’t know the extent of the timeline until we get an MRI tomorrow, but he’s going to be out for- it’s a broken wrist, so 6-8 weeks probably we’re looking at.

It took a lot of gas out of us early just from a flow standpoint. He had gotten so good offensively and was doing so many good things. It hurts, and it hurts for him because he was having a heck of a season. We’re going to have to have guys step up and we’re going to need guys to step up and pick up their game a little bit.”

Replacing Sandro after he stepped up as second scorer: “I’ve got to get Myles Cale more shots. Jared Rhoden just has to shoot the basketball. He didn’t miss a shot in walkthrough and he wouldn’t shoot one today. I just told the guys, that they have to remember who they are and true to who they are during the game. He’s a guy who can make shots. It’s been off him shooting it and giving us a chance to rebound rather than him turning it over and us scrambling a bit. It’s a tough situation for Tyrese coming in as a freshman. He didn’t do well offensively but for the most part, being thrown into that situation and having to play those minutes all of a sudden I thought he did a good job.”

On Quincy McKnight’s scoring woes: “Quincy just had a bad night offensively, it happens. Not being able to flow a lot of offense, we got stuck with space pick-and-roll. With Q, we’ve never been built where we’re a spread pick-and-roll. We’ve always brought MP off screens or things like that. When you lose a guy that you run offense through early in the game, I didn’t do a good enough job– I think I was a little too simple. Myles didn’t practice well this week and he didn’t play good today. When he doesn’t practice well he doesn’t play well. He’s got to get back to– I think early in games he’s just pressing a little bit.”

On Powell struggling a little: “This is kind of what happened in January last year, he got a little sped up. The eight days off didn’t really help our game, I thought we were a little gassed the first 10-12 minutes. Him I’m not worried about. I need to figure out the four-spot more than anything with Tyrese, get Taurean [Thompson] back in there. Get him some good work in practice because he can give us a low-post threat. We worked all week on throwing the ball into Sandro and work it in-and-out, that was something we were going to get going early. … Once we lost Sandro, it [the offensive approach] kind of just went by the wayside. We’ve got four days of practice to figure it out. I have confidence in Tyrese and I have confidence in Jared that they can pick up the minutes and play the way they’re supposed to play.”

On period of time ahead of team being favorable despite Sandro out: “The tough thing about this week was I was trying to get a game inbetween [Battle 4 Atlantis] but we were supposed to play in Walsh again [due to Prudential Center schedule]. I didn’t want to play in Walsh this week. The long week was a good because we got guys some rest but at the same time, I thought we were getting a good rhythm and all of sudden. But I think the four days will build some confidence for Tyrese and Jared at that spot and build me some confidence in Taurean because he can score the basketball down low, he really can.”

General thoughts: “I thought defensively we did a pretty good job in the first half but we had some stupid fouls. … That’s something that hurt us and I thought that was the difference in the game. We didn’t play overly smart. Tough place to play, it is, it does get loud in here. But we had our opportunities and we had some good shots that if we knocked them down it could have helped us out. For guys who had to step up and scramble when you’re losing a guy playing 30 minutes a game, getting your 14 points and 7 rebounds. I thought those guys did a good job.”