Greenville Notebook: A post-mortem look at Seton Hall – Arkansas

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Greenville, S.C. — As the depressing dust settles on Seton Hall’s 21-win season, its time to digest on a more rational level what exactly happened. 

For starters, my three stories from yesterday: 

If you thought there isn’t anything left to be said after three stories, you’re wrong. I’ve compiled a handful of quotes and some of my thoughts from the game, which I wrote at 11:30 under the duress of headache-inducing noise from Marquette-South Carolina, which was a literal Gamecock home game. 

Also, I would like to give a special shout-out to Joey Khan of The Setonian, who did terrific work for them all season and allowed me to use some of his shots from the game yesterday, including the feature photo above.

Five thoughts:

I touched upon this in my game story, but Angel Delgado’s fourth foul began the unraveling. Regardless of whether it was a foul or not (I thought it was), it’s inexcusable as a center to pick up your fourth with so much time remaining in the game, defending a 90-percent foul shooter on the perimeter. It was both a tactical disruption and a mental blow to the team. But still, four turnovers and three points over the last 6+ minutes is baffling.

Desi Rodriguez really hurt Seton Hall on both sides of the ball. As usual, I received a few tweets about mistakes from Madison Jones, but he scored 11 and turned it over three times while playing 36 minutes in a frantic game. Elsewhere, Rodriguez was 4-of-17 from the field with two turnovers and frankly an unnecessarily forceful foul that was switched to a flagrant; Delgado also coughed the rock up five times. I think the finger should be pointed at Kevin Willard here more than anything — why did Rodriguez get the green light like Isaiah Whitehead last year in Denver?

Kevin Willard primarily rolled with Mike Nzei and not Ish Sanogo in a big game. Sure, Sanogo was still not 100-percent healthy and he had played infrequently over the last month, but this is notable. I do agree with Willard’s choice down the stretch as Seton Hall needed points more than it did stops, although it didn’t necessarily pan out in the end.

Arkansas turned out to be a pretty good ball club. As you’ll see below, Moses Kingsley’s jumper was not in the scouting report, but regardless the Nigerian played a huge game, literally. The Hogs were also able to answer all three lead changes well, defended the interior (outside of rebounding), and controlled the pace.

The big picture implication of this loss isn’t unanimous. My instant reaction yesterday was one of relative satisfaction when compared to pre-season expectations, but big picture, this loss puts a lot of pressure on Seton Hall’s rising senior class to win an NCAA tournament game or risk what would be an ultimately disappointing four years. Can both be true? Is my recollection that making it to the Big East semis and just an NCAA bid as meeting expectations wrong? I still think most fans would have signed up for that deal back in October.

Five quotes (and one):

Kevin Willard on how tough of a loss this was, given he hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game: “It’s tough. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s tough. To have the kids play — it’s not about me. College basketball is not about me. I think it’s going to be extremely difficult for these guys and how hard they worked, the hours and the travel, everything.

“I feel for these kids because they’ve really bought in to each other. They bought into the program. I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and I’ll do what I do on Saturdays, is go to my son’s basketball game.

“These kids, college basketball is about the kids, it’s about the student-athletes. It’s about their emotions and I’m just so proud of what they’ve done for this program. It’s going to be tough for them. It’s hard when you lose and you have a game. But that’s hoops, man. That’s ball. It’s life. You’ve got to bounce back, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in these guys, how we’ll do and how we’ll bounce back next year.”

Desi Rodriguez on how the loss feels: “I’m just heart-broken, I’m at a loss for words right now. It’s a tough way to end the season. Compared to last season, this is more heart-breaking. I didn’t play my best game today, I didn’t give it my all — I played hard, but I just ended up on the short end of the stick.

Angel Delgado on the officials: “The refs did a really good job. I don’t comment about refs and calls like that — I just play the game … You cannot do nothing about it, you can’t go back in time and change the call. There’s nothing you can do.”

Delgado on whether Moses Kingsley’s jump shot was in scouting report (after saying he made a few lucky ones): “Definitely not. That’s always the game — the game is like that, to make shots. He made a couple of shots, you’ve got to give him credit.”

Khadeen Carrington on the officials: “I feel like the players should decide the game. I’m fine with the travel call on me, but if you’re going to call it on me, just give us the same opportunity.”

Carrington when I asked him about the crowd support: “Those fans are great. I know every one of those people out there, they traveled with us in the preseason. It’s tough seeing them going home early, but I want to thank them for coming out.”

  • PadrePirate

    Thanks, Chris, for thorough coverage and all the unseen work that represents. If it weren’t for this board, I would have stopped following this team long ago. Til next year.

  • Ted McHugh

    Chris. Thanks for the great coverage all season long, I know its a lot of work. Looking forward to next season.

  • Ardy

    Thanks Chris for a place to respectfully share our thoughts with you and others for the advancement of the Hall.I wish hall would give MP the green light like Curry or Harden to see what he can do. I really don’t think we’ve really seen how good this kid is. We salivate about getting Deval but Deval said how he looks up to MP. MP makes smart decisions with the ball and does not turn it over. It’s frustrating to watch the team loose without his offense in the 2nd half of games (only 3 shots in the 2H yesterday) and people say that MP disappeared in the 2nd half. I really like this kid and as Delgado said he has a great future.I will be watching.

  • Andrew Herbst

    Thanks Chris for all you did this year and for keeping us all informed. Can’t wait for next year

  • Jersey Jerry

    OK, it all makes sense now … if U look at this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated you’ll see that Desi Rodriguez is on the cover in the upper right hand corner. Yep, it’s the ‘Dreaded Curse of being on the Cover of SI’; that’s what did ‘da Hall in … only way to make sense of how the game ended vs Arkansas!

  • Ardy

    Check out my post from (3/11) 7 days ago. It all happened yesterday. Let’s not settle for good when we can be GREAT!!! Let’s H ALL raise our level!!

  • SHU95

    Chris, really really appreciate the hard work & dedication to the site. It adds so much to the entire experience of SHU basketball. I don’t even think I realized how often I check the site for news, recruiting, etc., even in the offseason. Thanks for another great year, I know we were all hoping for one more game!

    As far as yesterday, I think the call was the correct interpretation of a rule that needs to be looked at yet again. We saw Angel get tagged with a F1 on a reach in from behind a few games back that was even less contact than yesterday’s situation. Given that experience from just 3 or 4 games ago, the players have to better “sell” their attempt at the ball if the rule is going to be called this way god in forward. Everyone in the building knew SHU was fouling in that situation, Desi sort of Non-challantly fouled and refs went by the letter of the rule as opposed to considering the situation. Hopefully they learn & we move forward. Either way, I think we can all agree that SHU should have never put themselves in the situation of having to foul by Better execution in the final 2 minutes. All that said, a successful season all things considered, and we wait to see how things shake out in what should be a very intriguing off season with all of the things that are in play. Hope it all works out for the best for everyone.

    • hallstorm

      95- you are correct with the letter of the law interpretation. Ok, then. But does that mean that ever time a player reaches out at the end of a game and grabs a players or taps their back that it should be a flagrant? I see it sooooooo many times in games that when a team is just to foul at the end of a game to stop the clock and a player inadvertently gets a lot of body, should it be a flagrant foul? If so, fine. I just want to see it more often and more consistently called.

      • Rich Ricci

        The problem is, the Flagrant Foul Rule appears to have been written by someone who has never played or fully understands basketball, so it needs to be revisited and rewritten. In addition, a good referee would recognize when a team is in a “need to foul situation” and understand that only a common foul should be called at that time unless, of course, it’s blatantly hard or obviously intended to hurt the player. Ironically, I’ve also seen games where a player is trying to foul in that situation, but no call is made, which is equally frustrating, so it’s important for the referee to understand the “sprit of the rule” and not act only on the “letter of the law”.

        The NCAA has to revisit and clarify this rule, along with the charge call in the lane where a defensive player undercuts the offensive player driving to the hoop, so that the outcome of games is no longer in the hands of referees interpreting a rule, but decided by the players, as it should be!

        • SHU95

          Nicely said, couldn’t agree more

      • SHU95

        I agree with you, it’s the Rule that needs to be addressed one way or another. The refs yesterday enforced a rule that is silly in the context of an obvious end of game situation. But given that SHU had a silly F1 called on Angel recently (Butler game I think) I think the coach needs to remind the guys by saying “give the foul, but make sure U make an effort to Play the Ball”. Bottom line: Bad Rule, which has been enforced consistently all season… U gotta adjust. Hopefully the powers that be will take another look this off season.

        • hallstorm

          Understood. Bottom line to me is: if you’re Arkansas and you need that call, good for you. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if the tables were reversed and we had to win that way. Again-it’s always a judgment call.

    • ThePirateFan

      It was definitely a flagrant foul by the rule. Desi should’ve given more of a damn about selling it, but that’s what happens when the rule is typically haphazardly enforced.

      I initially thought it was a bad call, but I understand it. By the rule it was F1, plus Desi had a bit more follow through on the contact than was needed. It wouldn’t have made any difference except then their feet got tangled and the contact was magnified. It’s tough luck, but Desi could’ve made his own luck my actually going for the ball.

      My issue is that you can guarantee this crew had overlooked the same thing multiple times this season.

      • Rich Ricci

        You just touched on another issue that bothers me, “selling it”, ThePirateFan. It’s gotten to the point where “selling it” has become almost as important as playing the game itself and is practically a game strategy because it’s being used to influence the referees’ calls. “Flopping” to draw offensive fouls has become too commonplace and is actually compromising the integrity of the game and now it’s starting to make its way into other phases, such as how to make a foul look unintentional. Just as the NBA addressed the “flopping” issues a few years ago, it’s time for the NCA to consider cleaning up acting and trying to “sell it” before this practice becomes an epidemic.

  • Mosleyman

    Most importantly, I want to add my thanks to Chris for the extraordinary coverage this and every season. Your efforts make following this team far more enjoyable, and make us all feel more like we are connected to the program.

    As for the game, oddly, the thing that bothers me most is not the flagrant foul, but rather the traveling call against Arkansas that was not made immediately before it. It seemed painfully obvious to me that they broke the press with a classic jab-step-one-way-then-step-the-other-way traveling violation. And this, right after Carrington was called for a less obvious, though correct, travel. I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more attention.

  • 11yearplan

    Chris: Thanks for all of the great reporting and insight.

    A old coach taught me that if you leave the contest so close that a ref’s call can decide the game the loss is on you. Harsh as it sound this loss is on our Pirates. Fortunately I think they understand it. Carrington’s frustration aside, I did not see anyone blaming anything/anyone other than themselves.

    Now we can talk about next season. Given the recruits we have, all we need to do is sign a PG and bring Angel back. Anthony will continue to improve and if the big we signed is anything like Sonogo, we will have more than enough depth up front. With Myles Cale, there will be a lot more scoring from the back court. As the team will be a year older and wiser, and significantly deeper, the end of the games will look a lot different. There is a lot to look forward to.

    Glad to see the fire Willard chants have stopped. Hopefully he is happy here and does not start to look elsewhere i.e. Indiana.

  • Andrew Herbst

    Who’s everyone rooting for now that we are out?

    • ThePirateFan

      Pulling for Nova now (family ties). How fitting they might get screwed by a lack of an intentional foul call on their second to last possession.

      • Andrew Herbst

        Crazy. I’m rooting for Rhode Island. Love the Hurleys

  • hallstorm

    Thanks again Chris for all your time and effort. I 100% agree on Desi and I’ve had the most problems with him this year just because he has talent. Jones gives what he has. Desi is too emotional and too selfish, in my opinion. He need to mature for next season to be cohesive.

  • Jersey Jerry

    Yo Chris … this olde fart is going to ramble some (if it’s alright) as I walk down memory lane. I’ve been following ‘da Hall for well over 65 years now … my older brother Paul graduated ‘da Hall in ’59, I received my degree in ’62 and my younger brother Stephen’s son Tim went to the Hall; so we be a family of Pirates.

    As a youngster, I saw my first game in the Old Eight Avenue Arena (MSG) w/Richie Regan, Walt Dukes & Company winning the NIT back in ’53 when winning the NIT was considered winning the National Championship. Later in life I became good friends’ w/Richie when he was Head Coach and then AD and I even went to his funeral Christmas week ’02. Richie was a GR8 leader, a wonderful man and I considered him a friend (he was my go-2-guy for BET tickets for a lot of years).

    Saw some GR8 games back in those early days in Walsh when Honey Russell was Coach w/Marty Farrell & Dick Gaines making ‘da Hall a BIG time hoops school in the late ‘50’s; then sadly the ‘point shaving’ became the topic in ’61 w/Hank Gunter & Art Hicks while I was there. We beat Cincinnati in the Garden by 8 (or 10) and I couldn’t talk right for a couple days because of all the yelling I did from the student section. Gunter, Hicks and Al Senavitis all had over 15 pts each and it was a signature “W” over a ranked team. Later on we learned that that’s the game the gamblers wanted ‘da Hall to lose by a dozen (or more I think) and Hicks was told if he crossed the bookies again they would kill him. Both were arrested in March ’61 in their dorm room and it was so sad how bad it got when we had the chance to really do some GR8 things that year. The next season we had Nick ‘the Quick’ Werkman trying to bring us back to prominence by scoring over 32 per game and he was the Nation’s Top Scorer in ’63 and in ’64 he averaged over 33 per game. Plus the team scored 120 points in a late January ’62 game that I think is still the most points scored by any SHU team. I graduated in ’62 and always wondered what could have been.

    In the early ’70 while living in Northern Virginia I became the President of the Seton Hall Alumni Club of DC for 10 years and became very close to our new Coach, affectionately known today as ‘da Governor, Bill Raftery. There was a game @ G’town in the early ‘70’s where we had close to 200 Hall fans in MaDonough Gym and it sounded like a home game. Our DC Alumni Club had over 125 fans show-up for an after-party @ the Key Bridge Marriott and Coach brought the team to the party. Got real close to Bill & Jonnie and the team for years and his daughter Kelli ended up going to G’town. We had some GR8 kids playing for us over those years including John Ramsey, Nick Galis, Glenn Mosley, Greg Tynes and Danny Callandrillo.

    Best of times started in ’79 when ‘da Hall was a founding member of the Big East Conference. With Raftery turning the rains over to Hoddy Mahon in ’81 we had our second losing season and it got even worst when PJ took over in ’82 winning only 6 games while losing over 20 that season. It took 5 years for PJ to get us a winning season going 15-14 in ’86-’87 and a first round game in the NIT.

    That’s when the fun years started with the NIT in ’87 then PJ took ‘da Hall to six (6) NCAA’s over the next seven (7) years. Had a chance to travel to ‘da Hall’s FIRST ever NCAA game in LA and getting to the 2nd Round was special. We had a ball winning that first game vs UTEP, however losing to eventual National Champion Arizona by 29 was hard to take. Jan & I enjoyed our first visit to LA and watching games in Westwood was special. Bottom line, we were in the NCAA’s and life was good.

    We all know what happened in ’89 ~ Seattle BABY … Final Four!!!

    Funny how things happen in life; in the Semifinals, Duke was up by 5 at half and Duke’s Danny Ferry ends up being the leading scorer in the game w/35 points, however, we beat Duke by 17. Later in the ‘90’s Jan & I became good friends w/Danny’s parents, Bob & Rita (Bob was the GM of the Washington Bullets at the time) and many a weekend we would sleep in Danny’s bed at his parent’s home in Annapolis, MD.
    Championship Game was a heart-breaker and after the game I was in the locker room and PJ was telling the kids to hold their heads high, you just played in the National Championship Game. I don’t remember his exact words; however he pointed to me and made a statement about what a real loss is all about as our 16 years old son Scott had died in a car crash a few weeks earlier, ‘Now that’s a real loss’ he said to the team.

    After PJ left we had a few losing years under George Blaney; then Tommy Amaker was the answer. Tommy took ‘da Hall to 3 NIT’s and a Sweet Sixteen in 2000 w/a 22-10 record (best record the last 15 years till last year’s 25-9 season). Always like Tommy and what he brought to ‘da Hall; however, this was not the first time I met Tommy. Back in ’83 when Tommy was a senior at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, VA I took my son Scott to a Coach’s Clinic w/Woodson’s Coach Red Jenkins, Maryland’s Coach Lefty Driesell and yes, Duke’s Coach K. Everyone thought Tommy was going to sign w/Maryland as his sister went to school there; however, when he announced Duke was his choice I thought Lefty was going to faint as he looked so depressed. It still hurts a lot when he left to coach at Big Blue but happy for him now at Harvard.

    Louis Orr’s first season in ’01-’02 was a not so hot, going 12-18. Coach Orr was a nice, gentle man who did take us to an NIT and two NCAA’s. Thirteen years ago I was in Raleigh, NC w/Coach Orr as we beat Arizona in the first game. The party at the Marriott after that win was WILD. The Marriott bar had closed and Monsignor Sheeran hands me a couple C-Note’s and said ‘Go get some beer so we can celebrate’ … we were back in the lobby drinking beer when the team came in … WILD times for sure! Next game we faced #1Duke in their backyard and as things would turn out we didn’t have a chance as Duke hits something like 35-38 from the foul-line while ‘da Hall was 11-17 and we lost by a ton.

    Not even going down the road w/Gonzo even if he did take us to a loss in the NIT seven (7) years ago. And so here we are! KW has one NIT visit and two (2) NCAA’s under his belt in seven (7) years. As has been said by much more knowledgeable folks that I, we need to get another TOP NOTCH recruiting class this year in order to improve or it’s one-n-done, if we can even get our dancing shoes on.

    Chris, can’t THANK U enough for ALL U do to keep us informed about the Hall and where we are and where U think we be going. Will continue to follow to see if we can get those star kids to join our Little Band of Pirates and help us sail into more NCAA game in the years to come. Needless-2-say, I have enjoyed this site for years and just wish I was a lot younger to continue to read what U write. Thank U for allowing me to walk down memory lane and remember some of my fun times w/’da Hall along w/a few heart breakers over the years.

    May God continue to Bless You and the GR8 work U do for Pirate Nation.