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.”