Seton Hall up against 22 years of history when they travel to No. 11 Villanova

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In the midst of a seven-game winning streak and now sniffing around the Associated Press Top 25 poll, Seton Hall (12-2, 2-0) travels to the hallowed on-campus halls of the Pavilion on Wednesday night for a grueling litmus test against No. 11 Villanova (12-2, 2-0).

Perhaps the most unique moment after Seton Hall’s 78-74 win over DePaul on Saturday wasn’t Kevin Willard’s stern answers regarding benched starter Desi Rodriguez — the “opportunity could be his [Veer Singh’s] for a while.” insists Willard.

It was when Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press asked Ismael Sanogo how old he was after the sophomore described the Pavilion as a tough place to play three times in one sentence.

“19,” replied a semi-confused Sanogo.

“Seton Hall hasn’t won there in 22 years. Tough place to play,” cautioned Carino.

Ish: “Oh…[laughs]. I mean, there’s time for change.”

If Seton Hall is going to reverse a drought that has lasted since Bryan Caver scored 21 points against Kerry Kittles in February of ‘94, it’s going to take a special rebound from last year’s 80-54 embarrassment that was brought to national attention after Sterling Gibbs’ forearm blow.

“Yeah, they’re really good… [laughs]. They’re really, really good,” said Kevin Willard of Villanova after his team’s win on Saturday over DePaul. “Their one loss to Oklahoma, they didn’t play well in Hawaii, and then their loss at Virginia… Until someone knocks them off, in my opinion it’s Villanova and Xavier [as best teams in the league], they’re really good.”

It’s not easy to be better than a 33-3 team like the Cats were last season, but Villanova might be just that this year. Jay Wright has lost guard Darrun Hilliard and forward JayVaughn Pinkston to graduation as well as Dylan Ennis (9.9 ppg, 3.5 apg) to a transfer to Oregon, but returns everyone else along with a big boost in freshman phenom guard Jalen Brunson and freshman wing Mikal Bridges.

Top-25 in ten major KenPom statistical categories and ranked No. 1 overall, Villanova is the usual highly-efficient and well-rounded team that everyone has come to expect from a Jay Wright coached bunch. That said, one statistical quirk to note is the team’s 229th-best shooting percentage from beyond the arc and top-ranked percentage from within it.

While that does detract from the Nova stereotype (the Cats are still 6th in offensive efficiency), Villanova is 6th in 3PA:FGA ratio and 55th in percentage of points coming from beyond the arc. So yes, with Ryan Arcidiacono (28-73, 38%) and Josh Hart (26-66, 39%) leading the charge, this is still that dangerous perimeter team you’re picturing (they’re just better from inside it now too); Nova canned 13-of-25 from downtown in their blowout of Xavier last week.

“We have to play defense,” stressed Isaiah Whitehead when asked on Saturday about Villanova. “They’re a great shooting team. If we defend the three-point line, we should be in great shape to be with them down the stretch … If you stop them from scoring, there’s nothing the crowd can do. If you stop them from scoring, the crowd doesn’t scream. If you stop them from scoring, we get out in transition and get easy buckets.”

Senior Derrick Gordon compared it to another Wichita State-like game, so in other words a type of game that he personally talked about over a month prior to tip. Gordon and Ish Sanogo’s respective defensive skill-sets will need to be at-the-ready against a Nova team that has four guys averaging over 9.8 ppg.

As Willard alluded to, outside of losses to two top-five teams, Villanova has won their other 12 games by an average margin of 23.75 points.

Jumping back to Desi Rodriguez, I don’t know what Willard will do and I doubt many will until close to tip (why help Nova out?), but I’d personally start a senior in Gordon and bring Desi in off the bench. That’s assuming they’ve made amends, etc. Veer Singh has had his moments but doesn’t look to be ready for the moment… like a daunting game at a top-15 team.

Last 10 meetings (VU 7-3)

Feb. 13, 2015, Villanova 80, SETON HALL 54, Villanova, Pa.
Jan. 3, 2015, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 61 (ot), Newark, N.J.
March 13, 2014, SETON HALL 64, Villanova 63, New York, N.Y.
Feb. 7, 2014, Villanova 70, SETON HALL 53, Villanova, Pa.
Jan. 8, 2014, Villanova 83, Seton Hall 67, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 25, 2013, SETON HALL 66, Villanova 65, Newark, N.J.
Jan. 18, 2012, Villanova 84, SETON HALL 76, Villanova, Pa.
Feb. 15, 2011, Villanova 60, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.
Feb. 2, 2010, Villanova 81, SETON HALL 71, Villanova, Pa.
Jan 6, 2009, Villanova 89, SETON HALL 85 (ot), Newark, N.J.

KenPom says: No. 2 Villanova 76, No. 42 Seton Hall 63 (10%)

Projected Villanova starters:

PG – Ryan Arcidiacono (12.9 ppg, 4.6 apg)
G – Jalen Brunson (11.7 ppg, 3 apg)
G – Josh Hart (15.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
F – Kris Jenkins (9.8 ppg, 3 rpg)
C – Daniel Ochefu (10.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Projected Seton Hall starters:

PG – Isaiah Whitehead (15.1 ppg, 4.6 apg)
G – Khadeen Carrington (13.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.6 apg)
G – Derrick Gordon (8 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
F – Ismael Sanogo (5.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
F – Angel Delgado (9.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg)

When: 7pm, Wednesday
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 970 AM
Opening line: Seton Hall +14.5

  • Andrew Herbst

    This will be a great test for us. I like the idea of Gordon starting. Then we could have Desi come off bench.

    • VinBick

      Watched the tape of the DePaul game first half, and Desi did not show up at the defensive end of the court trip after trip. He looked like he was dogging it, and even on the offensive end, he displayed little energy. Clearly, benching him was spot on even if he had not mouthed off to his coach. Poor effort and mouthing off will limit any player’s time on the court.

      • Andrew Herbst

        I felt same way. I loved that Willard took a stand. We can’t have those kind of performances with poor effort.

    • JJer

      Funny you should say that about Gordon starting. I was hoping he didn’t start. I’m scared of a potential backcourt depth issue starting all three guards. It’s Desi and Soffer backing them up, who might get eaten up by Villanova’s smalls.

      • Andrew Herbst

        Agreed.

  • Matty P

    If SHU can do a good job defending the 3 (Nova takes an average of 28 per game despite shooting at 32.4%) and win the battle on the boards (Nova is at the bottom of the big east in this category while SHU is close to the top) I think they will have a good opportunity to keep it close and possibly pull out a win.

  • shufaninva

    Hey Chris,

    Any thoughts on SHU’s “new fab five” offering??

    • They had actually offered 2 of the 5 guys months ago, but reading between the lines, probably a PR thing between the Hall’s staff, the kids and media.

      On a recruiting note, tough to make much out of this since these are 2017s and 2018s, but I get the feeling that SHU is making progress reputation wise. Winning and pure talent will erase the short-term memory of what happened last year. Will other schools negatively recruit once these kids get down to 5-8 schools? probably.

  • PadrePirate

    Everyone will need to be at the top of their game to keep this one from being a blow out. I think they can hand with these guys (within 10), even at home, if they stick to their strengths (tough D) and limit the TO’s.

    Agree with Chris and VB, better to bring Desi in off the bench. Hopefully, the lesson was taken and everyone can move on without further distraction.

  • SHULaw05

    It’s time for a change at the Pavilion! The Hall must play the intense D that we have seen the last few games and protect the rock from TOs. We can hang with them if we play tough D and keep them frustrated. The Wildcats love the three, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they go cold from beyond the arc and are forced to go inside. Time to step up in the paint! We can do this. Go Pirates!

  • Matty P

    Interesting article from Jerry Carino discussing the issues and what could have been if SHU was able to expand Walsh. http://www.app.com/story/sports/college/2016/01/05/seton-hall-nova-could-walsh-have-become-pavilion/78295532/

    • Fishjam

      I like the article as it’s a question I have asked many times over the last 20 years when going to Meadowlands or Prudential for games. Walsh is a nice little Gym to watch a game and if they could ever expand it to become Pavilion-like with a capacity around 6-7,000 it would be a big boost for the Program and the school.

      All of the challenges mentioned in the article are valid. If they worked at it, I bet they could buy some real estate from the county in Ivy Hill or if they wanted to get creative they could have knocked down Boland and built a modern arena and rec center on the North-West part of campus around Ward Place and South Orange Ave. But both of those options would cost a whole lot of money and although I believe it would be a big boost to the school in the long run, the financial commitment is something I doubt the leaders of the school would go for.

      • Matty P

        The idea of knocking Boland down and building it over there would be interesting. Unfortunately that can no longer happen with the size of the classes that SHU has coming in. The past 2 years have been 2 of the largest in school history and they’ve been having trouble housing the large number of students. I think the best way would be to purchase real estate from Ivy Hill, but I’ve heard that for every acre they purchase they would need to replace it with park space somewhere else which could get expensive quickly. Would be nice if they could have convinced the town to make it a multipurpose area that would be used for not only the games, but shows and performances. Maybe even provide some after school activities for people from the Ivy Hill apartments or people within Irvington.

        Wouldn’t it be nice to be Rutgers for just this one time? All the open space they have around the RAC and no trouble with convincing the local area to get things done.

  • Fishjam

    The 1st upset in Conference play…..Marquette takes down Providence on the road.

  • LBP

    Just want the Team to play hard–if Desi gets in ,no pouting and bring his lunch-pail. Nova a good match-up for the Hall

    • SHULaw05

      Let’s Go Pirates! Good news for sure. I was confident this matter would be resolved. Time to play basketball!

      • Hallbuster

        is this official?

  • WilponsStink

    What does this mean?

    Jay Wright@VUCoachJWright

    Unfortunate incident last night in bucks county – Arch focused on SHU – will be available after game

    2h

  • WilponsStink

    Against Xavier, Nova shot 63% from the field, and 53% from 3-point land. Against Creighton they shot 68% and 33%. This is one heck of a jump shooting team. Let’s hope the defense is tight tonight and the rims are stiff.

    • LBP

      The rims are not tight and they can shoot–that is why I am interested if Hall D is real

  • fouline

    22 years means absolutely nothing! We’re playing well. Let’s see what we can do. And hope for the best.

  • WilponsStink

    The officiating has been bad in the first half. Nova is getting away with murder under the glass. Ochefu is going over the back or throwing guys out of the way on every missed shot, and Archi and the other guards are taking out Seton Hall’s legs when they leave their feet for a rebound. Archi finally got called for it twice in the last 5 minutes, but they’ve been doing it all half.

  • Matty P

    Getting killed on the boards against a team that doesn’t rebound well. That’s been the biggest difference in this game.

    • Matty P

      The number of missed free throws don’t help the matter either.