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.
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.”