“How do you get back up?” Hall responds to Nova game to keep NCAAs within reach

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NEWARK — Last season, Seton Hall’s home win over Xavier put an official stamp on a team that was NCAA-bound.

This year, the Hall’s hard-fought 71-64 victory over the Musketeers marks a pivot point between what would have been an up-hill, outside chance at a bid and a fate that is now largely controlled by the boys in blue and white.

If Seton Hall wins their next three, there’s very little chance they miss out regardless of what transpires at Madison Square Garden.

If they lose at Butler, the Pirates most likely need one at the Mecca to feel safe.

What appears constant is the inability to lose to either DePaul or Georgetown without throwing really throwing a wrench into things.

But while people like us are mulling over these hypotheticals, Angel Delgado & Co. have their eyes on the prize.

“When you win you’re happy, when you lose you’re sad. And you don’t want to be sad,” joked Delgado post-Xavier in his patented jovial approach with a Dominican accent that matched his DR-centric baseball cap.

While there doesn’t seem to be a primary leader on this team compared to years past, Delgado has been the most prominent leader on the court through consistency and sheer will-power on the low block to the tune of 15.3 ppg, 13.2 rpg, and 20 double-doubles over his last 21 games.

Long gone are the days when he would make a few mistakes and then sulk worryingly on the bench during media-timeouts.

“There’s no more ‘I’m tired, I’m sore’ — it’s over for that,” he said of the team’s current mentality.

“If you’re sore, go to the cold tub, that’s what I tell them. We have to play hard and play like it’s the last game [of the season].”

If Xavier was the last game of the season, Delgado and his guys staved off their own elimination after a tepid first half against a team that had leading scorer Trevon Bluiett return from an ankle injury to play an impactful but inefficient 38 minutes.

“It was a must-win, no matter what,” said an in-form Madison Jones of what was at stake against the Musketeers.

“It was a must-win, we didn’t want to walk out of here with anything besides a ‘W’. We knew it would be big for our season. We knew we had to come out of this home-stand with 2 out of 3 and that’s what we did.”

Although Jones admitted he doesn’t really pay attention to bracketology and bubble talk, the senior graduate transfer naturally can’t escape the post-season situation the Hall is in.

“Every game, every night is important, every single night is important. Every night is an opportunity, so we definitely talking about that [the tournament]. Of course we want to be playing in March and that’s our goal no matter what, that’s our goal from the beginning of the year and I feel we have a good chance.”

Something that was more of a concept a few months or even one month ago, is now taking shape for a team that receives most of its production from juniors and seniors.

“All the talk about bubble, bubble, bubble — that wears on you a little bit. These guys have done a good job, because they’re older, they understand what it’s all about now,” said Kevin Willard, who is now 5-0 against Chris Mack in Newark/New York City venues.

“Last year I don’t think they understood all the talk — seedings, RPI and strength of schedule — they understand that a little bit more. They look at each game as a great opportunity. Creighton was a big RPI win, even a Villanova loss doesn’t hurt you, this is a great RPI win. I think they understand that a little better.”

The opportunities will keep on flowing and Seton Hall’s NCAA chances must be kept afloat by preventing a replica of the 2012 debacle with a win at DePaul on Saturday, which will set up another important clash against Georgetown on Senior Night next Tuesday.

With just one home game remaining and it potentially being just as important as the Xavier game, I asked both Delgado and Jones what they thought of the weak showing from Seton Hall fans on Wednesday night and gave them a chance to relay a message to the fans.

Jones approached the question with defensive prowess and largely deferred, just like his playing style.

“It’s Senior Night man, it’s my last game — just come out,” he told me of what message he’d like to get across to fans.

“I can’t do nothing about the fans coming, I tip my hat off to those that do come we appreciate them no matter what. No matter the game, I feel like they should come support as they can, but like I said I tip my hat off to those that do come and show love.”

As for Delgado, he dealt with my question in a similar fashion to his playing style: directly and with ample force.

“It’s [there’s] fan they’re loyal, it’s [there’s] fans they’re not loyal. There’s fans that are coming because we’re playing that team [Villanova]. I just give credit to the people who came here today. People that didn’t come here, it’s their problem, I don’t care about that. If they don’t come, whatever — it’s whatever,” said a confident but relaxed Delgado.

“The people that came today, I really have to say thank you to them and for their support — I’m going to be playing hard for them, not for everybody. Because it’s not everybody, it’s a couple of people. That’s all I got to say.”

Despite, or perhaps even because of the ups and downs this team has faced, these guys believe in themselves to bounce back time and time again regardless of what fan support has been like, from incredibly pessimistic to overly optimistic.

And a large portion of credit must go to Kevin Willard, who is making his over-used “We’ll bounce back” line after a demoralizing loss sound more like a promise than an empty phrase; the Hall has hit back after each Villanova loss while their consecutive overtime wins over Georgetown and Providence followed a two-game skid.

“Every once in a while you get your ass kicked, and that happened Saturday. Sometimes you get beat up,” said Willard of his team’s 22-point loss to the national champs.

“That’s been my message to this team: How do you get back up?”

Seton Hall now has three more games as part of their post-Villanova bounce-back to position themselves as best as possible heading into Championship week.

A second consecutive NCAA bid for the first time since the early 1990s is what’s at stake.

“Growing up my whole life I wanted to play in the NCAA tournament,” reflected Madison Jones.

“Being almost there and having it right there in our hands and right there for us to take, I can’t really ask for more.”

  • PadrePirate

    Exactly. A bid is right there in their hands for the taking or dropping. This team is more than capable of beating DePaul and G town. Butler is just a better team and seems to have KW figured out, but even there, I think they could pull off a win if firing on all cylinders.

    Crowd-wise, I totally get how the kids feel, but not everyone can afford, money or time wise, to come to three consecutive home games.

    • Matt

      I agree when it comes to the alumni/adult fans but the student section has no excuse. I’ve been to almost all the home games this year and the student attendance has been a disgrace.

      • Joe Schmoe

        whats the size of the student section seat wise? when i was there in ’99 there were alot of programs on campus to get kids to goto the games. You could always volunteer for something and score a couple of tix as payment. The school ran shuttles from campus to continental at then time too… do they still do this?

        • Matt

          They still have the shuttles but section seat wise I think is between 500-1000 if you want to count the corners. Yesterday probably 100-200 students.

    • Just to touch on your last point — as I have noted elsewhere in comment section — well over 2K people that paid for tickets did not show last night.

      Paid was over 7K. If that number actually showed to game, we wouldn’t be discussing this now.

      Further, there was only about 4.5K at Creighton too (6.6K paid), which matched up with attendance last night. If anything, seems like that 4.5K core of fans showed up for all 3 games, whereas there’s a large portion of people who did not. Obviously impossible to prove without being in the ticket department with their data.

  • Joe Schmoe

    I dont think the commentary from the players is fair. First and foremost, the TV deal and ease of digital streaming make viewing all games from your living room or smart device rather simplistic. While there may have been few fans in the stands…how many were tuned in remotely? Building on that point…it is not Cheap, Easy, or fast to meander your way to downtown Newark on a weeknight to see a Bball game…. Late games in Newark are even worse. Its a lot easier to catch a game from your house for a number of reasons. What was the advertised attendance last night? How many season ticket holders were no-show or couldn’t re-sell there tix?

    • Biff Roughneck

      Sounds like a lot of excuses. You sit at home in your easy chair, eating Cheetos and talking about the Newark boogeyman, and then are offended by the players commenting on the poor attendance. I don’t know if you’re cheap, lazy, or both, but you have nothing but excuses.

      • Joe Schmoe

        Never once mentioned “the newark boogey man”. Don’t invent things. Also, insults are childish and unnecessary. Re-read and try to comprehend…

    • Matt

      Not cheap? Tickets can be found for $10 or less….Parking is $10-20 and the area is surrounded by Newark PD.

      • Joe Schmoe

        Current unsold (not from a re-seller) tix on ticketmaster are available for next game vs Gtown at a cost ranging from $39 to $98 per ticket depending on where you want to sit. Re-sellers (stub-hub) are not part of the equation since that ticket still counts as a sold ticket for gate attendance purposes regardless if it goes unused resold at a loss. The days of $10 face value SHU B-Ball tix are long gone ,my friend.

        • Matt

          Sorry, I’m going to call you out but if you go on StubHub right now you can get a ticket for $17. And the day of games the tickets are even cheaper. That’s a big game for this area and the final home game. And I never said face value. I said they could be found for that price.

          • Matt

            I’m also a season ticket holder paying through the “Young Alumni” program which provided me season tickets for 1 seat at a total of $210 for this year. I also get additional tickets for $10 in my section from the ticket office itself because I’m a season ticket holder.

          • Joe Schmoe

            “Young Alumni” is not available to everyone…only to “young alumni” . But the cost of the ticket is moot… its all the other extras…parking, food, time….thats what adds up. It’s already been said that the estimate was about 2500 to 3,000 ticket holders did not show up for the game. My original comment was because downtown Newark is nightmarish to get to on a weeknight,

          • Sportzdoc

            You’re going to count your “time” as an expense? That’s interesting, considering it’s a leisure activity. I come from Somerset County, 45 minutes from Newark, and you’re making the traffic out to be worse than it is. It’s worse getting home. Nightmarish is hyperbole.

          • Joe Schmoe

            Stubhub is a re-seller… every ticket listed for sale on stub hub with count for Gtown gate attendance…even if they go unsold and unused… its already a paid for purchased ticket. plus there are stub hub fees, so $17 really means $25..or $30 or whatever the stubhub fee is. for a less than optimal seat mind you. The fees on the internet is a fixed fee also so its even more painful to buy the “cheap set” and pay the same fee. For some reason, ponying up for a premium seat makes the processing fee easier to digest. Plus its nice to take advantage of some high level donors perks during the pre-game reception, that is if they leave the sticker on the ticket.

          • Matt

            Joe if you look now tickets dropped to $14 and with fees it comes out to $19 and change. It’s not that much to attend a game for an average individual.

    • 7139 paid attendance. 4500 is a generous actual attendance, in my opinion. At very best, (say 5K actual) over 2K people who paid did not show.

    • On note of TV deal, it surely impacts attendance. No doubt about it, though an accurate “attendance would be X if no TV deal” is hard to calculate. TV helps for long-term and cultivate a general fan base that is more wide in reach, but certainly hurts attendance.

      One example that is relevant is English soccer. They currently have a massive TV deal for their top league because those franchises have enough ticket demand, but their lower divisions all play at the same time on the weekend and have pretty restrictive TV black outs to force fans to come to games instead of watch on TV since a majority of their revenue is not thru TV but game-day income. I believe at one point people from outside the country had access to watch these games on TV, but not within England — for attendance reasons. Just an interesting comparison.

    • hallstorm

      I can say this: I go to 5-10 games every season and I wake up at 4:30-5:30 most mornings and it takes me anywhere from 1-1.5 hours to get home to Hoboken (I realize I should just spend the $15 for Uber). My brother and I got tickets on either stubhub or the student exchange in section 8, row 8 (foul line-so pretty damn good) for $30 each. That’s near the center.

      Tickets under the basket on either end were going for $18.

      I eat before I go and it doesn’t cost me any more to get there with the path.

  • Chris, thanks for the great game summaries and candid insight about the pitfalls and attributes of being Seton Hall. Unpredictable fan support, coupled with a core of remarkable fans and hard-nosed players that “get up” are part of what makes the Pirates so much fun to follow. I do wish there would be more fans, but the Northern New Jersey area is so much more alive when Seton Hall is relevant (as it has been the past few years.) I appreciate your coverage.

  • Matty P

    Great to see this team come away with a win. One thing I was happy to see was Carrington not throwing up too many shots while having an off night. He did a nice job distributing the ball (5 ast to 1 TO).

    Hope the team comes out with energy against DePaul and Georgetown to keep things moving in the right direction. One positive is that it’s not senior night for DePaul, so that might help to avoid some extra energy.

    Also I’m hoping this doesn’t end in a 3 way tie between SHU, Marquette and Providence. Providence has the easiest schedule against Marquette, DePaul, and at St. Johns which looks like they will end 10-8 or 9-9. Marquette has the tougher schedule at Providence, at Xavier, and home at Creighton. With a schedule like that it could go either 3-0 or 0-3 depending on how Xavier and Creighton play. Certainly tough to determine where everyone will end up, but in the end SHU needs to make sure they go 2-1 and then worry about the BE tournament seeding later.

    • The tie-breakers scenario is interesting. Creighton really disrupted things by losing to Providence last night. Will keep a close eye on it over next 3 games.

      • PadrePirate

        Tie-breakers aside, the real question is what will the committee look at on selection sunday? If all three teams end up 9-9, won’t they look more at head-to-head W/L, other quality wins, bad losses, RPI, etc? All 3 teams beat the Jays once, but MU beat Nova and Prov beat Butler. Looks like SHU has one less top-25 win than the other two teams.

  • Just added the photo gallery from last night. As usual, some great content from Wendell Cruz.

  • SH remains at 48 in RPI, so last night’s win added a top-50, but didn’t move SH’s RPI needle at all.

    This will be the same for next 3 games. Wins against DP/Gtown won’t improve RPI much whereas a loss at Butler will not hurt either.

    Further, if SH finishes 6th, they probably get Creighton/Xavier in BET. A win there bumps SH just inside top-40. That will surely be good enough for a bid.

    • Joe Schmoe

      This weekend’s games are going to be real entertaining…

      Current BE rankings…
      #4 8-7 Xavier Facing Butler
      #5 8-7 Marquette facing @Providence,
      #6 7-8 SHU facing @DePaul,
      #7 7-8 Providence facing Marquette

      If Providence beats Marquette at home, Xavier loses to Butler, and SHU wins at Depaul they are all at 8-8 in conference with two to play….

  • Matty P

    The SHU mens basketball twitter posted an interesting stat last night after the game. Since 1996 no player from a major conference has more double doubles in a 21 game span than Delgado (20 games). The other 2 players they listed who had 19 games were Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan, who both went #1 in the NBA draft. Crazy to think Delgado has done it more than either of them and is still getting overlooked by not only the NBA, but the NCAA awards committees.

    • Rich Ricci

      Despite his scintillating rebounding statistics, the reason Angel Delgado doesn’t have the NBA scouts salivating is because he isn’t nearly athletic enough to be effective in that league. The NBA game is played above the rim, even by many guards so, although his strength and footwork are more than adequate, his lack of lift will be a serious detriment to his overall game. In many ways, Delgado reminds me of Bryant “Big Country” Reeves from Oklahoma State who, although he was an outstanding NCAA player, couldn’t make it in the NBA because he couldn’t get his shot off consistently or cover the quicker and more athletic big men. Hopefully, the lack of serious NBA interest will keep Delgado at Seton Hall for his Senior year, but I’m sure he’ll be getting calls from Europe, South America and Australia to play in those leagues, so all we can do his hope that loyalty to his teammates and school will win out over a professional contract.

      • Joe J

        Good comparison to Reeves. I agree with you about his NBA prospects. Angel has the strength but is not athletic enough. The NBA like you said is played above the rim and amazingly Angel cannot jump high enough to dunk. He is very strong and has amazing rebounding skills which make up for his lack of a vertical game in the college game. The NBA is a totally different game.

    • PadrePirate

      I think his time will come, if not this year then next. Angel doesn’t come across as an athletic, highlight reel kind of guy. Doesn’t jump high or dunk. He’s just tenacious and has developed great post moves. Reminds me most of Hakeem Olajuwan. Maybe scouts wonder if he can compete against taller, stronger guys in the NBA? In D1 a 6’9″ PF/C is avg, but in NBA that’s on the small side.

      • Rich Ricci

        I think comparing Angel Delgado favorably to Hakeem Olajuwon is a bit of a generous stretch, PadrePirate. Delgado isn’t nearly as quick as Olajuwon was and isn’t even close to him defensively, either on the ball or as a shot blocking help defender. In addition, Olajuwon also was a much better jumper than Delgado is, so he could dunk when he had to and had far better range from outside the key, which made him a more balanced offensive threat. Actually, if Angel compared more favorably to Olajuwon, the NBA scouts would be all over him by now and the possibility of him leaving The Hall after this season would have been a foregone conclusion by the time the Big East portion of the schedule got started.

      • SHU95

        I love your enthusiasm with the Olajuwan comparison… Actually, take a look at Tristan Thompson of the Cavaliers. I think Delgado could serve a very similar & useful role in a few years in the same way Thompson does for Cleveland. Though I think his route to the Pro’s could take a similar path to another former Pirate Great, Adrian Griffin, who found his way to a successful run in the NBA after stints overseas & in lower US leagues. I just hope like all SHU fans that we get to enjoy his Senior year, which could be truly special.

  • SHU95

    Much needed win last night, it was nice to see the team pull one out on a night when one of our “big 3” scorers is having an off night. Jones and Powell chipped in nicely to offset the unusually slow night in the scoring column by KC. I have to give some credit to Jones who, overall, has played much better dating back to about the first Xavier game. My only criticism is that attempted layup at the end which I’m sure he has heard about today from his coaches. We now must “hold serve” against two teams that are capable of knocking us off if SHU looks ahead to Butler or the BET.
    I am planning on taking my family to the G’town game, hope others do the same. Go Pirates!!

  • 11yearplan

    The crowds will not come back until SHU becomes a consistent winner with local talent as starters. There have been too many periods of losing seasons (’65-’74; ’82-87; the years with Coaches Blaney and Gonzalez and Coach Willard’s first 5 seasons) for fans to believe the Pirates will be wining in the long term. When you factor in Coach’s inability to bring in a point guard people won’t invest emotionally beyond this season.

    6,000 would show up at Walsh for Coach Raftery’s big games in the late 70’s and twice that would come to Brendan Byrne when Coach Carlisimo had the team winning.

    Do well in the BET, qualify and win a few rounds in the NCAA Tourney, land a true freshman point guard and land a highly rated big to replace DelGado/Desi and there will be a tangible future to believe in and the crowds will be back.

    TV/internet streaming has nothing to do with it. Cost is always a factor but if the ticket prices were all cut in half, the crowds would not be significantly bigger.

    BTW; Newark is a much easier destination to reach, and with all of the local restaurants/bars a much more desirable one, than the Meadowlands ever was. There can’t be that many fans who did not experience 15 minute wait to reach the parking attendant booth, another 10 minutes to find a parking spot which was further away (and harder to find) than the Pur’s lots, walking through the cattle crossing every time the team drew 5,000 and no where near the arena to go after the game.

    This is not a criticism of the team as our Pirates are playing their hearts out and make us proud every night. They deserve our support.