Now that the 2016-17 season has officially come to a close, it’s time to look to the future: What is one area that each returning Pirate must improve upon this off-season?
This wish list contains the caveat that Angel Delgado returns to South Orange after testing the NBA Draft process, as I’m sure that in itself is worth the weight of the entire list below.
Seven full months lie between college hoops junkies and the 2017-18 season, leaving us to speculate about recruiting, the NBA Draft, graduate transfers, and the non-conference schedule while Seton Hall’s eight returning scholarship players finish their spring semester and gear up for another off-season.
After a brief respite — some of the rising senior class apparently only took a couple days off following last season — everyone except for incoming freshmen will start working on their game ahead of the tiny blip in the distance that is 2017-18.
What do you think each player should improve on? I’ve made my list below.
Angel Delgado – explosiveness – It seems apt that we start with the anchor-like big man. As stated above, let’s assume Angel returns for his senior year in this exercise. Given that, the Domican’s most glaring weakness at both the college and professional levels is lack of natural athleticism and explosiveness. A more-consistent outside jump shot and improved free-throws are definitely tertiary items, but some sort of NBA-level strength coach may be what Angel needs — or perhaps he’s operating at peak levels.
Khadeen Carrington – awareness – Sure, a handful of end-game scenarios could have panned out differently to put him in Isaiah Whitehead’s category, but they simply didn’t. To name a few games at the end of the season, Carrington was willing to take big shots and try to make plays on his own against Villanova and Arkansas, but failed to execute; these were head-down “hero ball” type of plays which someone like Whitehead would be able to pull off. Carrington needs to work on what held him from converting to a point guard last summer: ball distribution and end-game awareness.
Desi Rodriguez — a leash – Similar to Carrington, Desi seemed to have a green light at all times this season except for being benched for the closing 12 minutes of the Villanova game due to a perceived lack of defensive effort. Perhaps a tighter leash is more of a request for Kevin Willard (though that infers Desi can’t regulate his own shots) when Rodriguez becomes too liberal on the offensive end, making the aforementioned defensive effort a close “1B” request. Desi is very capable at getting into the lane and dishing to a teammate — but he strays from this too much.
Ish Sanogo — offensive prowess – A litany of shoulder and ankle injuries no doubt affected his play this season, but Sanogo also lost minutes to Mike Nzei due to inferior ability on the offensive end. Ish is very good in a few areas, but 3 ppg for over 20 mpg is simply too low for a team without much depth. The most painful thing is that Sanogo got himself in handfuls of great opportunities to score, but just couldn’t converted some put-backs and lay-ups. He showed a few isolated flashes of a mid-range jumper, but the confidence clearly wasn’t there after the early non-conference schedule.
Mike Nzei — post strength — We already know that Nzei is one tough dude, but a concentrated effort to develop into a forward who owns the paint would be stellar. A few tacked on pounds of muscle and some more conventional back-to-the-basket moves would serve Mike very well as long as he can retain his strength which is the agility to slither around the paint for quick put-backs. Willard flirted with him at the ‘five’ a few times, but if he can man that role a lot more over the next two seasons, that would be huge for the Hall.
Myles Powell — consistency — This almost seems like a cop-out given Powell’s freshman status and the fact that he was coming off a pair of high school foot injuries that limited his practice time — perhaps you have some more-acute critiques of his game. Powell clearly has the outside range, he can score in a variety of ways within the paint, he was able to find teammates quite well, and even showed an above-average defensive nose for the ball as the season grew — leaving my wish list sort of barren.
Rashed Anthony — defense/shot-blocking — Players toward the end of the bench obviously have more things to improve on than the Angel Delgados of the world, so I think Rashed should lock into one or two things he must do at a higher level to gain more minutes. Forget shooting, setting screens, etc. — how about honing in on becoming a paint defender who will foul at lower rates and perhaps block a few more shots. This will serve Willard’s offense-for-defense substitution patterns and fit Anthony’s build well.
Eron Gordon — point guard abilities — I’m sure Willard has already tinkered with this over the past few months, but it will be interesting to see if Gordon can develop any lead-guard attributes. Strictly looking at his future in South Orange, the two-guard spot is a log-jam between Powell, Carrington, and Myles Cale for at least the next season while there are currently zero point guards on the roster. Sounds like an opportunity.