Seton Hall played the best 30 minutes of basketball that I’ve seen in quite some time to climb out of a 13-point first half deficit and notch a huge resume win over Wichita State in overtime. The Pirates clamped down on defense in the second half and we’re able to sustain several Shocker punches late in the game to pull out a potential pivotal 80-76 win.
My five initial thoughts on the win and a bunch of quotes from Kevin Willard, Khadeen Carrington and Derrick Gordon.
Five thoughts (and one):
Defense won this game. Seton Hall shot itself in the foot for most of the first half by starting zone (more on this in the quotes), but I felt when they got something like five consecutive stops early in the second half when the deficit was at seven, they really started to believe they could win this game.
Ish Sanogo ripped the ball out of Ron Baker’s hands down the stretch and I believe he did the same against Evan Wessel. He was matched up against smaller guys for most of the game and was huge along with Derrick Gordon’s on-ball defense against Baker and VanVleet. Wichita State had the 6th-best turnover percentage coming into the game so forcing 21 turnovers, 15 of which came after the half, is significant.
Desi Rodriguez is really developing into a gamer. I had to Google research Desi after he committed to Seton Hall a few years ago because I had no idea who he was. There was little to find on him outside of being a raw but freakish athlete; he’s come a long way over the past season and a half. He had a key 6-0 run just by himself in the second half that was capped off by his two-handed flush that drove the crowd into a frenzy. He can score in a ton of ways including from beyond the arc and is really having a breakout sophomore season.
Speaking of the crowd, those who showed up were tremendous. The Rock was still shockingly only about 70-percent full, but the fans that did show up were loud thanks to the players giving them something to get off their rear-ends and cheer for. The student section was tremendous again and the students dressed as lobsters/Santa in the front row were mentioned in one of Seton Hall’s huddles. I almost feel bad for the “fans” who could have been at the game but chose not to, but I don’t — they missed a good one.
This is a resume win. Ole Miss is quietly developing into a solid win, but Seton Hall really needed this game if they to be a player come Selection Sunday and the players knew that. Wichita State is a household name for anyone that follows college hoops (especially the committee) and more importantly this boosts the team’s confidence heading into conference play.
Angel Delgado dug deep today. He started the game with a ton of energy but missed several shots in the paint while Shaq Morris took it to him on the other end of the court, but he turned things around. Delgado scored all but 2 of his points after the opening 16 minutes and was able to stay in the game while guys like Morris and Anton Grady were in foul trouble late and in OT. That was Angel’s fourth-straight double-double.
Seton Hall could have folded. After taking the lead 55-54, Conner Frankamp reeled off eight-straight points to give Wichita State a seven-point lead with over four to play. At that point, I thought the game was done and dusted — the Shockers have been around the block and then some, they don’t give up those types of leads easily. Desi Rodriguez and Whitehead combined for eight points on their next four possessions to put the Hall back within one and the rest is history.
Five quotes (and some bonuses):
Kevin Willard on the poor defense early (mostly due to zone): “The first half was all my fault. I had too much time to watch film and tried to be creative. I tried to confuse [Wichita State] and I ended up confusing our guys. In the second half, we got back to being real simple, doing the things we’re good at defensively.”
Willard on the team’s progression today: “We have a long way to go. The most I’m going to take out of this is in the past we’ve been knocked down and we’ve run for the hills. [Wichita State] came out and knocks us down and for the first time what I saw was guys taking a step towards the fight. That’s as important as anything.”
Khadeen Carrington on the defense of Ish Sanogo and Derrick Gordon: “I’ve never seen him [Gordon] like that. He was locked in today, he’s our defensive leader. He started the defensive intensity and everybody followed from there. Ish got some big stops, some big rebounds and I just kept telling him on the floor ‘Keep doing it bro, this is going to be a big win for us’”
Carrington on the post-game locker room being a party: “A little bit. Every time we get a big win like that, Coach comes in and he kind of screams and we kind of jump on him [laughs].”
Derrick Gordon on the post-game emotion + locker room: “Great, it felt great, honestly. I didn’t know if I was going to get another shot at them, so to beat a team like that, for us to beat them it’s definitely going to help our resume come tournament time. I’m excited, Coach came into the locker room after the game, we we’re jumping around. I’ve never seen Coach Willard like that after a game, so when he’s doing that it’s a great sign. He was jumping around, we we’re slapping his head and stuff like that. We don’t really get to do that but when we win games that’s the time when we can do it.”
Gordon on his experience at Seton Hall so far: “I love it here, the things that I’ve experienced here, I didn’t really experience at my past schools. Just how it is here, how everybody interacts, and how it is on the court, I really love it. I don’t care about the whole starting thing, I really don’t. At the beginning I was a little concerned about it, [but] when you win it makes things that much better. You love your teammates that much more for that because they’re going to have your back, so I’m happy.”