KenPom analysis shaping Kevin Willard’s game planning

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Seton Hall held Creighton without an offensive board for nearly 30 minutes and dominated the Jays 46-27 on the glass, a battle that helped the Hall win an important war 75-65 on Saturday night in Omaha.

It wasn’t until they found themselves in a 12-0 offensive rebounding hole down 63-46 with 10:55 to play that Creighton would finally score their first rebound off a missed shot.

Sure, it would be disingenuous if we didn’t recognize that starting 7-foot Bluejay center Geoffrey Groselle sat the final 8 minutes of the first half due to foul trouble and then injured his left ankle a minute into the second half, but frankly the battle on the boards wasn’t even close at that point.

“It’s something that we’re thinking about, something we’re really talking about,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard regarding the goose egg portion of the 12-0 rebounding stat.

The importance behind keeping other teams from getting offensive boards is obvious, but Seton Hall has been close to 200th nationally in how well they do so coming into the team’s trip to Creighton, allowing Big East teams to grab around 33-percent of shots they miss.

Inversely, Willard’s team is 30th in how effectively they gobble up their own missed shots and played above that clip by reeling in 44-percent on Saturday.

“These guys don’t know what KenPom is, if I said our KenPom numbers are this, this, and this, they’d probably think it was Pokemon,” said Willard of the well-known college basketball statistics site. “But I grind KenPom daily. I spend hours on it, from a player’s standpoint, from an opponent’s standpoint, I look at what the better teams are doing in the league, what the bottom teams — what their weaknesses are. And I study ours. This is the best our KenPom numbers have been to this part of the season and our biggest weakness is [giving up] offensive rebounds.”

Seton Hall held Creighton to a 17-percent offensive rebounding rate last night, the lowest any opponent has registered against a Willard-led team since a road loss at DePaul (2 ORebs; 13%) in February of 2014.

Angel Delgado is usually the head honcho on the offensive glass, and he did pull in four last night, but it was his supporting cast of Mike Nzei (3), Ish Sanogo (4) and Derrick Gordon (2) that not only played stout defense on Maurice Watson Jr. but also attacked both ends of the glass alongside Angel. All four guys brought their lunch pails to Omaha.

Seton Hall’s collective will to scoop up their own missed shots isn’t just a fun stat to pinpoint, it literally was the primary difference in the game. The Pirates won by 10, but took 9 more shots and bested Creighton 17-4 in second chance points, 10 of which came directly from put-backs.

Oh, and the dagger, NBA-range second half three-pointer that Isaiah Whitehead drilled to suck the life out of Creighton?

Came from an offensive board.

“It’s not that these guys aren’t doing it, it’s at times we have a tendency to rely on Angel too much. Angel is getting double- and triple-teamed down there, and again, Desi [Rodriguez] gets 10 rebounds. Ish with 4 [defensive boards], Angel gets 8 and Veer [Singh] goes in there and gets us 3 rebounds. I thought this was a great team effort.”

  • VinBick

    Something for Hall fans to be aware of today:


    Top seeds: Oklahoma, North Carolina, Villanova, Iowa

    2-seeds: Kansas, Xavier, Texas A&M, Virginia

    Last four in: Saint Josephs, Syracuse, Seton Hall, UCLA”

    Nine more wins in conference and one or two at the BE Garden Party will take us off the bubble and make us a solid contender post-season. Go Pirates!

    • SHULaw05

      Love the sarcasm, VinBick. Lunardi is still jaded from prior years. Lunardi doesn’t matter at this point. Only thing that does matter and it should be the sole focus for the players/coaches is our next opponent, Marquette. Despite the blowout win on the road in our last game against Marquette, our players must take them very, very seriously after Marquette’s push for the post season of late that began with their solid win yesterday against Butler.

      If our players bring the same intensity and focus that we did yesterday in Omaha then we will prevail Wednesday night. Willard needs to focus our strategy on containing Ellenson once again. As it seems that Marquette can only go as far as Ellenson can take them.

      One game at a time. Another big win for the Hall Wednesday! Go Pirates!

      • Louie Dee

        Georgetowns’s another threat. So this is a huge week!

  • fouline

    Vin… We may be ranked this week. This team has taken its fate in its own hands. They are finally playing to win. It’s different every game. But they are in there fighting.

    • VinBick

      Maybe, if the Hall beats both Marquette and Georgetown this week. Lots of teams with our record jammed just outside the Top 25. Do not see writers and coaches around the nation who vote showing us the required respect, yet. Beating St. John’s and Creighton are not impressive enough wins.

      Being ranked a year ago was the kiss of death for the Pirates. We can climb in the BE standings nicely, if and it is a bit if, if the puppies on the team keep their eyes on the one opponent we are facing at a time as Law05 suggests. That should be the only goal. The determination and effort displayed in Omaha last night will provide lots of more wins.

      • Fishjam

        I have no problem with us not being in the Top 25 yet. Pirates are a Top 40 team IMO and can get in the Top 25 if they continue to win games. They are 34th in KenPom and 46th in RPI. I don’t want to get ahead of things but if they finish in the top 4 of the Big East they will likely get in the back end. But Top 25 is not my goal for them this year, #1 Goal is to make the NCAAs and perform well in the 2 tourneys….Big East & Big Dance.

        Building a successful program takes time especially at a school like Seton Hall. They had the breakthrough recruiting class in 2014 and now they are showing signs of jelling on the court. They need to have some sustained success on the court which will send messages to upcoming HS kids that The Hall is back and we can start getting top recruits on an annual basis.

        • Louie Dee

          I agree. NCAA #1 Goal!

  • Fishjam

    Defensive rebounding has been an issue for this team for most of the season and I’m glad to see a stat to quantify it. Our guards/wings are often too eager to get out in transition and fail to block out or go for rebounds. Another reason is our bigs are often out of position because they help on defense so much, leaving their man an open look at the glass. And lastly, I see a lot of times our Guards/Wings are just standing around after a shot goes up. They give a strong effort on defense then seem to get a little lazy and rely on Angel & Ish to clean things up…..this part pisses me off and good teams will capitalize on this. Hopefully the Creighton effort will carry over.

  • ThePirateFan

    “These guys don’t know what KenPom is, if I said our KenPom numbers are this, this, and this, they’d probably think it was Pokemon,”

    ^^ Maybe they should know these things. It’s one thing to hear, “don’t turn the ball over. It’s bad.” They’ve heard that same line for years and years, it’s in one ear and out the other at this point. It’s something else to hear, “hey, every time we turn the ball over we have to outplay them by another point. If we’re -5 in turnovers and lose by 5, that’s the difference right there. Do you want to win by 10 or by 3? Win by 3 or lose by 4?”

  • LBP

    Pirates have a great match-up tonite-so lets take care of business-Hall is faster and more athletic against a poor rebounding Team which turns the ball over-a lot. Lets go cause there is a sleeping Lion on Sat. night-gotta get the wins we should.

  • LBP

    This is the Team I hoped we would have- hard working and relentless

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