Seton Hall slams LIU Post 77-48 in final preseason exhibition

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SOUTH ORANGE – Powered by Desi Rodriguez’ 18 points, the Hall polished off Division II LIU Post 77-48 in their third and final preseason game.

Khadeen Carrington added a quietly efficient 13 points and two assists.

An engaged start from LIU Post didn’t last long as Seton Hall made a living in the post before back-to-back Myles Cale (10 pts, 2 asts, 2 stls) threes put the hosts up 29-10 with six to play in the first half.

Sandro Mamukelashvili (4 pts, 13 rebs, 4 blks) — who collected 13 rebounds after receiving a start — and Angel Delgado (8 pts, 9 rebs) skied for a pair of impressive blocks over the first 20 minutes to help the Hall hold a commanding 40-18 advantage at the half.

As expected, the visitors couldn’t claw within 20 points in the second half as Kevin Willard mixed and matched a bunch of different looks while playing without Ish Sanogo and Myles Powell, who both sat out today due to minor violations of team rules — Willard said both would be back for the season-opener on Friday. 

Five observations:

Desi Rodriguez cemented his bid for the best preseason from a Hall player. Building on his 20-point games against Boston College and La Salle, Rodriguez barked orders like a senior and converted a pair of steal-and-slams in the open court today, everything he did looked effortless — he easily could have scored 40.

Kevin Willard was a bit experimental today. He didn’t play Myles Powell and Ish Sanogo, while pumping the brakes on Rodriguez and Delgado’s minutes for obvious reasons. After playing some full court press early on that Willard said was meant purely to increase his guys’ energy, Seton Hall could have pushed the game for a wider margin but they appeared set on pretending like this game was closer than it was; freshman walk-on and one-time Marquette commit Philip Flory saw the court with six to play, as did likely redshirt candidate Romaro Gill.

Sandro Mamukelashvili was the most impressive of the three freshmen, beating out Myles Cale by a hair. Rebounding should be somewhat natural for the 6-10 Mamukelashvili, but he has a nose for the boards and when combined with Delgado, will make a powerful rebounding duo — more on this from Willard below; four blocks also helped Sandro’s cause, two of which were very impressive.

Myles Cale wasn’t far behind Sandro, with Cale showing why Kevin Willard has compared him to Fuquan Edwin, at least on the offensive end. Cale’s outside stroke looked good and he nearly threw down a thunderous slam that was prevented by a hard flagrant that saw Jordan Walker jokingly slide to Cale on the baseline as if to rescue him. Walker (7 pts, 1 ast, 2 TOs) was energetic and took a few high percentage looks, but looked unpolished and a little erratic in general until putting on an absolute show that kept the crowd engaged during garbage time.

Regarding the show that Walker put on, his electric nature is certainly innate and not learned. He has a unique presence on the court that was on display over the closing minutes — which he probably thought resembled a high school game. Once Walker tightens up some parts of his offensive game, I think Seton Hall fans will be very pleased. They were certainly very pleased when freshman walk-on Philip Flory dove over Cale for a loose ball up 32 points with two to play, the mini standing ovation was appropriate.

Five quotes from Kevin Willard:

On Myles Powell and Ish Sanogo: “Just minor team violations. Nothing major, just minor. Just trying to keep everyone on track. They’ll be back for FDU.”

On Sandro Mamukelashvili’s rebounding, and him combining with Delgado: “He’s doing a lot of good things, the problem with him and Angel is that Angel is used to playing with Mikey [Nzei] and Ish [Sanogo] on the defensive end in our schemes. Once Sandro learns what to do at the four spot, his length can really help Angel.”

I asked Willard about a moment when he pulled Delgado aside for 30 seconds in the first half: “I asked him what he was doing for dinner because this one is almost over. Those were my exact words. He said he didn’t know yet. I was trying to get his mind off of missing some shots — keeping him from getting frustrated about a 6-foot-6 guy that is whacking the heck out of him.”

On the late-game energy that saw the crowd go wild: “Phil [Flory], Shavar [Reynolds], Myles [Cale] and Jordan [Walker], those guys play with great energy. We had three guys dive on the floor, a really good block by Ro’ [Gill], I thought that group for the last five minutes played with really good energy.”

Regarding Romaro Gill’s (8 minutes) redshirt status: “Yet to be determined … We’re probably going to make a decision some time this week.”

  • Louie Dee

    Chris – I really appreciate the detail report as I wasn’t at the game but I’m really curious about the team. I have a few questions: What are your thoughts on E. Gordon? Who would be our back up PG if Khadeen gets into foul trouble?

    • I was thinking about Gordon vs. Walker during today’s game.

      Walker certainly has the flashier attributes, but Gordon has more size and experience (albeit not on the court in D1).

      Perhaps it will depend on opposing match-ups, but Walker, for obvious reasons, does exude more PG-like tendencies since he has been one for awhile. Would have to see more of both in pure PG roles.

      • Louie Dee

        Thank you for the quick response. You’re the best!

  • PadrePirate

    Thanks, Chris. With I-Heart Radio plus these post-game wraps, it’s almost like home cookin. Sounds like our backcourt is still a work-in-progress. Not many A’s and high TO’s from the guards. They’ll work it out. Good to see Sandro’s blocks and boards. It will be interesting to see how he integrates into the defensive flow…

    • Almost like the good ol’ days — was listening to WSOU for La Salle.

      I remember listening to one of those Pitt games (cant remember if ’04 or ’06) on the radio. Wasn’t quite as easy to watch on TV ~10 years ago!

      Think the guard play is a work in progress, and the key will be ball movement. No natural PG? Need to make up for it in PG by committee (unselfish, all on same page, etc.)

      Tough for me to say having not seen La Salle game and then a D2 opponent tonight without two key players.

  • Andrew Herbst

    Thank Chris for your recap. I like how Sandro is getting rebounds. I think our backcourt will come together. Have to expect growing pains from Walker. Can’t wait for Friday.

    • Thanks Andrew. To a neutral, Sandro came off as a center today. Think SH has a real good, versatile gem here.

      • Andrew Herbst

        I think so too. I love that he has an inside out game

  • Craig Steel

    Thanks for the write ups on athe exhibition games. Can’t wait until Friday’s official start. Feels like a great year of basketball is back for our Pirates!

    • You’re welcome Craig. Can’t wait either. Took the day off from work — will be covering from the Rock.

  • VinBick

    There was a bit of criticism here regarding Desi when discussing the returning seniors. He seemed to be portrayed as the weak link of the starters. He was portrayed as going into funks too often and losing focus during games. I defended him at that time and was surprised at the criticism, frankly. Desi has always been a warrior in my book; he is capable of putting the team on his back at times. The summary of each pre-season game describle him in positive light.

    Are we looking at the “go to guy” in Desi? This team may be even better than projected with some nice new contriibuters.

    Gorden showed nothing last season, and the comments here are more positive about walk-ons than Gordon. Hummmm?

    • RonD

      Totally agree about Desi. He was our leading scorer in BE road games last year.

    • Not sure if you are referring to me in particular or comments as a whole, but I stand behind this statement regarding Desi prior to this preseason: He is the most explosive player on the team (yes, more than Angel) but given his talent level, also the most inconsistent. I’m confident Willard would agree with this statement if asked off the record — just see his track record of benching Desi.

      As for Gordon, I didn’t get to include him in my recap because I had written 600~ words as-is 🙂 The modern attention span is only so long.

      Since the game wasn’t televised, I thought images of diving walk-ons getting Walsh excited was more appropriate than a performance that didn’t turn any heads.

      See my thoughts in a reply Louis Dee about Walker vs. Gordon.

      • VinBick

        The general theme of the comments made earlier here were what I was talking about, Chris. Do not recall who said what specifically. My support of Desi is based on an “eye test” with no real expertise in evaluating player talent. I’m simply a passionate, old alum who bleeds blue!

        In game interaction between Desi and his head coach has seemed confrontational and/or harsh at times. Coach Willard should be the calm, capable leader keeping the troops on track to perform at their best in the ebb and flow of the contest. Have always thought that private dressing down may be more appropriate and screaming at kids during games mostly ineffective, regardless of the situation.

        • PadrePirate

          Not trying to get into a debate here, but I’ve always found KW very calm (toward players) on the court, at times, maybe even too calm, for my taste, when someone could use a robust wake-up call.

          Last season, when Desi used inappropriate language directed at KW or the staff, KW benched him without any heated discussion. Again, when Desi failed to block out Josh Hart (his assignment), on the famous Nova game-winning tip-in last year, KW didn’t react on court, even though he would have been justified in doing so.

          I totally agree that off-court corrections are usually the better way, but a good coach knows how and when to use his emotions to get the most out of his guys, understanding how each player works. A guy like Desi, who has lapses where he seems a little mentally out of sync, discouraged, or whatever, may respond positively to a little pumping up by a teammate or coach.

          • VinBick

            As usual, the good Father adds proper perspective to the discussion. As stated, what the hell do I know as a fan with no coaching experience? Thanks for setting the record straight.
            I will recite three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys before noon.

          • PadrePirate

            No reason to get personal, Vin. I thought you started a good thread about Desi and was just sharing what I saw last year. Us armchair coaches need to stick together, right? No hard feelings. If I can get over there after Christmas, we can have a beer at the St John’s game.

          • VinBick

            There is a problem with no nuance able to be conveyed when posting on line. The comment was presented as humor and genuine respect for your contribution. I love your insightful and helpful posts, period! I feel badly for the misunderstanding.

            Would love to meet up at half time of the Redmen game!

  • Louie Dee

    Wow! Rutgers beat St Johns in an exhibition game. The hardwood classic might be a tough game this year.

    • PadrePirate

      For some reason, ESPN took down their pre-season rankings, but I think RU was around 100. Not sure what the precise reason for optimism is, but a win over the Johnnies is a good sign. We should have a pretty tough OOC schedule.

      • For reference, KenPom has Rutgers at #125 and SJU at #51

        • Louie Dee

          Just got my tickets for the SHU vs. Rutgers game. FYI. They are selling out fast.

    • SJU played 4/5 starters 28+ minutes, too.

      I did warn that SJU is the sexy pick, but perhaps not ready. Not sure how much the exhibition says about SJU being worse than advertised, Rutgers being better, or both (or neither!)

      I’ll wait for some non-conference games first.