NEWARK, N.J. — Both by chance and by design, the recent presence of Seton Hall’s Big East title-winning 1992-93 team helped inspire this Seton Hall team in a win against Georgetown.
Trailing the Hoyas 26-21 at the first half’s under-eight TV timeout, the Pirates had awoken from their early-game slumber, but weren’t quite on their front foot yet.
Then the ’92-93 team took the court for recognition with a glassy-eyed P.J. Carlesimo at the front of the pack.
As soon as they exited the stage, Myles Powell did his best Terry Dehere impression and was helped by Desi Rodriguez to spark a 9-0 run which would turn into a 23-5 onslaught that effectively won the game.
It’s typical in sports for current teams to get an extra boost when former players get honored at a game. But oddly enough, Kevin Willard and the entire team missed the honoring of history just feet from their huddle.
“Where were we at? I missed it,” asked Willard post-Georgetown, who was then told it happened at the under-eight.
“It was awesome [smiles]. I missed it, at the under-eight in the first or the second half? No one gives me a heads up around here. No, I think we had cameras in the huddle.”
The players also missed out.
“No, personally I didn’t recognize it. I was just too focused on what coach was saying,” said Powell, who coincidentally appeared the most inspired post-ceremony and was able to recall verbatim what Willard said in that particular huddle.
While the team was fueled by chance at Prudential Center, P.J. Carlesimo’s presence at Seton Hall’s practice just days prior was by design.
“It’s awesome. Anytime P.J. comes back, he brings such a great energy, a great passion — he loves this school so much, and to have him around for both practices yesterday was great,” said Kevin Willard.
“Just to pick his brain, and listen to stories he’s telling — I’m still waiting for us to put a statue of him up somewhere because no one is going to do what he did, ever. What he did here was monumental.”
As seen on Twitter, the legendary Seton Hall coach also gave a short speech to the team after practice.
“P.J.’s message was if you want to be good in March, you have to be good now. You can’t wait until late-February and say now we’re going to start fine-tuning for March,” explained Willard.
“His ’89 team and his ’91 team were really good in January and February. That was his message, it was a really good message for my guys.”
“Of course, seeing P.J. in practice yesterday, it was great,” said Angel Delgado.
“It was great to see those guys, they’re legends, that’s what we’re trying to be too. Seeing these guys coming here and support [us], it’s great, I’m happy.”
I then asked Angel what the team took away from the encounter with Carlesimo, and what it means mindset-wise.
“I talked to them [my teammates]. We’re an old team, we’ve been through a lot. The guys know what time it is, they take what Coach P.J. said and they really got it.”
LISTEN: P.J. Carlesimo interview, courtesy of Jaden Daly/DalyDoseOfHoops.com