Return trip to Georgetown another huge test for Seton Hall

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Thinking back a week and a half ago, Seton Hall’s prime time Saturday night clash with Georgetown at Prudential Center carried plenty of post-season importance. Their return game in the nation’s capital on Wednesday will hold equal weight as the Hall looks to make an NCAA push following a week off.

Quickly approaching seven days since Kevin Willard’s team finished a three-game home stand 2-1 with a close loss to Butler, Seton Hall (17-7, 7-5) find themselves squarely on the NCAA bubble and in search of a 4-2 finish over their remaining regular season games to jockey into a strong position come Selection Sunday; anything less and there’s reason to worry.

A brief respite away from the Big East’s front lines should provide extra focus going forward.

“Win or loss, it was a good time for us,” said Willard of the week-long break for his troops. “We’ve been playing hard, we’ve had a good stretch. I would have obviously liked to win all three home games, but to go 2-for-3, obviously [I’m] not that disappointed.”

“I like the position we’re in, we’re actually a little better than I thought we’d be going into the last six games. It gives us a chance to rest – I’ve been playing guys a lot of minutes — it gives guys a chance to get some rest and get re-energized.”

On paper, all seems well in South Orange — and things are, the Pirates are playing very consistent ball — but the onus is on Willard’s team to punch back after Butler torched a top-40 defense for 81 points and 1.17 points per possession last Wednesday.

“I feel bad for our next opponent defensively because Coach is going to rip us apart in practice about defending,” said Isaiah Whitehead post-Butler. “I would guess we probably touch a ball 25-percent of the time next practice.”

That next opponent that Whitehead feels bad for is none other than Georgetown (14-12, 7-6), for the second time in as many weeks.

Losers in four of their last five games and again in desperate straits as far as the post-season goes, the Hoyas perhaps unjustly will draw the ire of Seton Hall’s defense after they were held to just 61 points and .87 points per possession in Newark, their second lowest rate of scoring all season.

“Defense,” said a firm Whitehead when asked about what the team has to improve upon. “I can’t emphasize enough how much were going to work on defense all week just off of this performance alone. Coach was really getting after us at halftime and then after the game — he was kind of lost for words because he’s never seen us play defense like that before.”

If there’s one opponent that will draw the Hall back into a more sound defensive game, it’s probably ever-tough Georgetown.

In their first meeting, Ismael Sanogo and Angel Delgado played the best tandem post defense I’ve seen, perhaps all season (not to mention Sanogo was switching off on smaller Hoyas and Mike Nzei provided blocks off the pine), while Khadeen Carrington and Isaiah Whitehead also did their parts in the backcourt during what was truly a heavyweight bout on hardwood.

Last but not least, Derrick Gordon rose to the occasion and then some when he came off the bench twice for a foul-prone Desi Rodriguez and played his heart out. Georgetown lead guard D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera (11 pts, 4-10 fg, 4 asts) was held in check by Gordon after DSR averaged nearly 20 ppg & 5 apg in the games leading up to the game in Newark.

Known for his deflections and relentless defending, Gordon may be less than 100-percent after injuring his pinky twice against Butler.

“I dislocated it again,” said Gordon when asked about the splint on his finger. “I dislocated it preseason and I dislocated it twice during the game today. It’s just a minor injury … It happened so fast, I just had to pop it back into place and keep going. It’ll be fine though.”

If it’s not Derrick, then Desi will have to step up and provide another dynamic, whether it be offensively or defensively. The key for Desi has always been focusing to stay on the court, primarily due to less-than-stellar defending or quick fouls.

Whatever the micro-level details, as a team Seton Hall can now play without the distractions of being on the cusp of a national ranking and trying to extend a four-game win-streak.

There’s just one focus: navigating away from the murky NCAA bubble waters by winning on the road for the fourth time in conference play.

KenPom says: No. 61 Georgetown 73, No. 36 Seton Hall 71 (43%)

Last 10 meetings (Seton Hall 5-5):

Feb. 6, 2016, SETON HALL 69, Georgetown 61, Newark, N.J.
March 7, 2015, Georgetown 73, SETON HALL 67, Washington, D.C.
Feb. 10, 2015, Georgetown 86, SETON HALL 67, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 20, 2014, SETON HALL 82, Georgetown 67, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 18, 2014, SETON HALL 67, Georgetown 57, Washington, D.C.
Jan. 30, 2013, Georgetown 74, SETON HALL 52, Washington, D.C.
Feb. 21, 2012, SETON HALL 73, Georgetown 55, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 18, 2011, Georgetown 80, Seton Hall 75, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 14, 2010, Georgetown 85, Seton Hall 73, Washington, D.C.
Jan. 25, 2009, SETON HALL 65, Georgetown 60, Newark, N.J.

Projected Georgetown starters:

D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera (16.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.2 rpg)
Tre Campbell (3.7 ppg)
Marcus Derrickson (6.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Isaac Copeland (10.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
Jessie Govan (6.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg)

Projected Seton Hall starters:

Isaiah Whitehead (16.6 ppg, 4.9 apg)
Khadeen Carrington (13.8 ppg, 2.6 apg)
Desi Rodriguez (11.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
Ismael Sanogo (4.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
Angel Delgado (10.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg)

Time: 9pm et, Wednesday
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 570AM
Opening line: Seton Hall +1.5

  • Small editorial note: I’ve changed the font color in stories to black from the default gray. It pops more and should be easier to read. Was something I was meaning to address for awhile, but never heard a second complaint so I didn’t get around to it.

    If there are other changes like this that you think would be a good idea, don’t be afraid to be vocal (however, I also don’t get to read every comment). This along with a reader insuring that I had RSS set up on the site are just two examples of constructive criticism.

    • PadrePirate

      Chris, I’ve said this already once before. For about 2 weeks now (give or take) it takes my computers (there are multiple ones in the house) super long to connect to this site and only this site. I’m not sure why, but I have to wait 3+ min each visit and even each change of screen with “establishing secure connection” flashing in the corner while I impatiently leave the room or find some else to do on my phone.

      Just wondering if you changed anything in your configuration. We did recently add a filter which blocks twitter (don’t ask), and I wonder if that has something to do with it. Please let me know if anything comes to mind.

  • Fishjam

    Hope this week off and all these projected brackets have the team hungry. Come out and take it out on GTown. Need Desi to play a good game this time. He was a non-factor in the first game in constant foul trouble. Georgetown actually out-rebounded us last time. Pirates have had a hard time finishing around the rim lately and need Desi’s ability to finish and rebound. Would also like to see Khadeen have a big night attacking the basket.

    • VinBick

      Khadeen does not need to take inopportune 3’s. He has hurt us in that department in the last couple of games. Playing within one’s strengths secures W’s, not the poor selection type shots.

      • iratepirate

        Our offensive schemes are pretty garbage. The weave is built for creating space on the perimeter. The Pick & Roll can help you drive but our opponents have seen our offense enough to know we are doing one of the two things above.

        We don’t break zones by putting someone in the middle. We don’t use baseline cuts to force teams to put players on the post. Good defenses funnel us into either taking 3s or driving into 3 on 1 situations. I am tired of hearing from announcers for them to get Delgado more involved down low. Until the offensive schemes get fixed we will be scouted.

        Can we still beat teams like Depaul, Gtown, St. Johns. Yes. That’s only because we have good talent and those teams aren’t as disciplined. We are going to have to step it up to beat the good teams.

      • ThePirateFan

        Georgetown fouls so often that this team should be driving to the basket as often as possible and utilizing pick and rolls liberally. Last I heard Georgetown is in 300th+ (out of 350 or so teams) in fouls/minute. Gotta take advantage and hit our free throws.

  • Andrew Herbst

    We better go come refreshed and ready to go. We’ve had a week off. We need to attack on the boards and need to finish our layups. This is a very winnable game. Desi has to build off his strong 2nd 1/2.

  • Matty P

    Interesting to look at ESPN’s bracketology and see that they moved SHU from the last 4 in column to the last 4 byes column. I would’ve figured they would have moved SHU to the first 4 out with the only game last week being a loss to Butler.

    • Fishjam

      Yeah its strange. Lunardi @ ESPN has had Seton Hall in their last 4 out most of the season while most other brackets had them in. Now after the Butler game, Lunardi has them in and most other sites have them out. Only thing that can be learned from this is the Pirates have to take care of business on the court these last 6 and in the BET to submit a resume that is free from reasonable doubt. A NCAA bid is so important for this program this year they can’t afford to leave things in the hands of a commitee.

    • Will start with bubble watch / bracketology content after the Georgetown game. Frequency will pick up as needed.

      • Matty P

        Thanks Chris. It’s definitely an exciting time when you get the chance to do a bubble watch / bracketology vs other years where it was trying to find some positives to end the season.

        • Or like last season’s bracketology, which week-by-week slipped into the abyss after Seton Hall was somewhere around a 4- or 5-seed in January.

          • Matty P

            I guess the one positive is that this team never moved up that high in anyone’s bracketology, unlike last season where we had so much hope until it all came crashing down in a ball of flames. I’ve got faith that this team can at least go 3-3 to finish off this season.

  • Jersey Jerry

    With G’town’s BIG 7-footer out we need to OWN the paint … we need a BIG night from our front line from start to finish … another double-double for Angle would go a long way in making the trip back to Jerzy sweeeeeet! Lots of drives inside will open the ring and sure would like to see IW have another stellar night from ‘down-town land’ … interesting KenPom has us w/a “L” in this one, 73-71 … have said for years, first one to 72 wins 90% of the time … let’s get this one done then on to NYC for another “W” … GO HALL!!! Why not us???

  • Fishjam

    Will be interesting to see what, if anything, this team will do differently after a week off. That’s a lot of practice time to clean things up and/or implement new strategies. Also an opportunity for one of the bench players to earn some PT with a strong week. I hate to bash Rashed all the time because he actually had a good game vs GTown or Marquette (can’t remember) but would like for Carter or Braeden to step up as Rashed is just not quick enough for BE competition.

    Nzei and Veer haven’t been playing much and need to pick up their games so we don’t have to play our starters 34-35 + minutes every night. And Desi is the one starter that could stand to be on the floor more IMO. When he’s mentally focused he is such a good player. Need him to rise up and be consistent.

  • Joe Schmoe

    throwback uni’s? They should use them the rest of the way…

    • LBP

      Just wear em.

  • Fishjam

    This has been bothering me for a week……can anyone tell me if the pick set on Ish on Roosevelt’s floater at the end of the Butler game was legal? To me it looked like Chrabaz didn’t really get set and should have been an illegal pick. Fast forward to 1:04 of this clip and let me know:

    • Clearly illegal and I knew this before seeing the replay for the first time. Officials were horrible both ways down the stretch.

  • Using RPI Forecast, I calculated Seton Hall’s RPI assuming the following:

    Gtown win plus wins against Providence, DePaul and SJU + losses to Butler and Xavier
    Gtown loss plus the same as above

    About a 16-point RPI difference (47 vs 63). How accurate? Anyone’s guess.

    • Fishjam

      That RPI forecaster paints a grim picture. Even a 4-2 finish only gives us an RPI of 47 which would leave us square on the Bubble.
      It also states that there is an equal chance of us beating Georgetown tomorrow as beating Xavier at the end of the month (44%)

    • Matty P

      Chris is that difference based on the assumption that each team would stay at their current RPI percentage? Also would you say it’s safe to look at any RPI number we have and deduct it by 2 since Louisville and SMU, who are both above us, are out of tournament consideration?

      • First part: correct. I haven’t looked into how RPI Forecast does their calculations, but that has to be it.

        As for the second part, interesting take. Haven’t thought of it like that. Thing is that Seton Hall will be compared against other schools, so unless SHU is ranked after those two schools and the school they’re compared against is ahead of those two (highly unlikely), I don’t see that having any affect.

    • Ryan Kelly

      Well RPI is fluid from day to day cause 25% is the winning percentage of your opponents and 25% is the Winning percentage of your opponents opponents. so ideally wed like every team we play and beat to win all their other games making their winning % higher and all their other opponents to win their games too. so we could end up higher than 47 provided that Xavier, Providence, and Butler continue to win all their other games too

  • LBP

    Watched the Butler blasting of Creighton and still can not figure how Hall lost to either Team–Guess a Butler win was good?? Team has to be hungry against GTown–they have nothing to play for and Angel and Sanogo must dominate inside. Hall has to step up now–no excuses

    • Fishjam

      Think I would have rather have seen Creighton win that one although there’s so many possibilities it’s hard to figure right now. But since Butler is above us in most brackets, we want them to lose. Our game at Butler March 2nd may make or break our chances.

      • LBP

        Fishjam I agree that without a win tonight, Butler win would be imperative for Hall to get in the dance. That is why I thought Butler beating Creighton was better for the Hall.
        Could see with a loss tonite a 2-4 finish, altho we match up well with Friars–Hall does not match up with Xavier and Butler at home may be too much.
        So I am utting much more on tonight than maybe others. Hope the Refs let the Teams play.

  • shufaninva

    I’ll be there, just a couple of rows behind the bench!! Can’t wait.

    • Fantastic. You shouldn’t be hard to spot, I expect the Verizon Center to be a library.

  • WilponsStinkLessNow

    First time these teams met the refs really let them slug it out under the hoop. Hopefully Angel, Ish and Enzi can repeat their defensive dominance, and the refs let them play. That was Angels best offensive game too, if I recall correctly.

    • Angel very good offensively (and good defensively too); Ish tremendous defensively along with Nzei.

  • LBP

    Happy that they are playing hard– Now if Angel can take over it would be great

  • LBP

    Huge win–they played really hard tonight and I am pleased even though it was not pretty