Kevin Willard says defense was “terrible”, offers thoughts on 84-79 exhibition win

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Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard offers his post-game thoughts on the Pirates’ narrow 84-79 win over D-III Baruch College on Saturday afternoon in Walsh Gym.

When I asked Willard if Baruch was just hitting their shots of if his team played poor defense: “It wasn’t good defense at all, it was actually terrible. That we can fix so I’m not worried about defense.”

On Isaiah Whitehead’s (40 pts, 3 asts) scoring but lack of true point guard play: “I thought he played great. All my point guards score, Jordan [Theodore] scored and was our leading scorer, Sterling [Gibbs] was our leading scorer, Isaiah will be our leading scorer.”

Is Willard concerned about his team’s lack of perimeter threats (6-16 today): “Veer [Singh] was going to start until he got hurt, so that kind of threw out the rotations a little bit, it’s a little bit of an issue but if we can get him back it won’t be.”

On if Whitehead took the game into his own hands due to teammates not scoring: “Isaiah is an aggressive player, I want him to be aggressive. He came out and kind of kept us in the game in the first half and made some big plays in the second half. The offense is predicated on him having the ball and making plays and I thought he did a good job.”

Not having a true center out there for most of the game kind of messed up what we could run, that kind of hurt us a little bit. When you’re not used to playing against that size, that can hurt you a little bit.”

Why freshman Myles Carter didn’t see the court: “Their tallest guy was 6-3. It’s hard to go in, they’re used to playing certain ways, they’re used to doing certain things – that’s why Mike [Nzei] and Ish [Sanogo] played most of the game, those are our next two smallest guys and they’re both 6-8. I was hoping Myles would get in there and I was hoping Braeden [Anderson] would get more minutes, but you just can’t play big if they’re that small.”

When I asked if Willard was concerned with the outcome: “Nope. I’m glad with the result, I’m glad it was the game it was. I’m glad we were in a close game. Mike [Nzei] hasn’t played, that’s the first time Ish has played major minutes, I thought he played terrific. We just have to get the rest of the guys back in the original lineup.”

Overall concerns: “Defense. Again it’s a tough team to play against. We don’t switch pick and rolls, we don’t play those [sized] lineups. But I’d say my biggest thing is defense. I knew we were going to turn the ball over early, I thought we’d struggle shooting – we always do the first game – but we also didn’t press in the beginning of the game, maybe we should have. I really wanted to try and play good solid defense, which we didn’t.”

When I asked about the relative success in second half due to full court + on-ball pressure: “That’s what we were going to do the whole game. Once Veer went out, that kind of shortened our rotation a little bit. And I didn’t want to start off pressing, I wanted to see how we were gonna play (in the half court) and when I saw they were that small I figured we were going to be in a little trouble because we had to switch a lot of stuff. We’re too big to switch, Angel [Delgado] isn’t going to guard a little guy. I think that’s something we’re going to have to work on because we didn’t do a good job at it.”

On Veer Singh’s wrist injury. Veer didn’t play today and had a light brace on his right wrist: “He got hurt Thursday in practice. He had an X-ray on Friday, it was negative for a break but it hasn’t stopped swelling so that means there has to be something else going on. We’ll get the MRI Monday, we’ll know by Monday.”

  • fouline

    Whitehead with 40 and a 5 pt game over Baruch? C’mon team. You can do better than that! I know it’s the first game but why don’t you play the whole team? Are you saving them for something… like the Big Dance? And after Willard’s explanation of certain aspects of the game… I thought I was listening to Professor Backwards. Right now my only criticism is … here we go again.

    • Not sure what you’re getting at here. Maybe I should have posted the box score, but everyone except Soffer, Anderson and Myles Carter played in double figures. Here’s the box score:

      • fouline

        My question, Chris, had to do with Whitehead. Is he going to be another ball-hog and destroy team development and chemistry? As Willard pointed out he has a history of ball-hogs Theo, and Gibbs. But what he’s failed to mention is that we didn’t do squat with them running up and down the court with the ball!

        • VinBick

          Ball Hogs have been the order of the day during this Willard tenure. Have we not been told that “defense” will the stressed area of this year’s version of Willard 6.0? Well, 79 points allowed by a Division III team is setting quite a pace….

        • Seton Hall needs a scorer and Whitehead is that guy. The question is will his scoring be to the detriment of the team and can he add a PG flavor to his playing style.

  • Pirate On The Panhandle

    All I know
    is what Chris has written here; however, D-III team I’ve never heard of and Coach has
    this quote: ‘Again it’s a tough team to play
    against.’ WOW, guess we’re in for
    the same ole stuff again this year!!!

    • To clarify, he’s speaking strictly about them all being 6-3 and shorter. I understand the argument but think it works both ways: if they’re that short, sure it may be tough to defend against, but your own big guys should have a field day. Which they didn’t.

  • Matt

    Excuse me while I go throw up over Willard’s comments…..

  • fouline

    Just a question… Does anybody have any footage of the game? Maybe it can be posted so those of us who couldn’t make the game can see how the team “looks”.

    • I doubt you’ll find any. Did the Seton Hall Athletics site stream the game? I’m not sure they did.

      • fouline

        I was thinking cell phones maybe. Just a thought.

  • Joe Schmoe

    “All my point guards score, Jordan [Theodore] scored and was our leading scorer, Sterling [Gibbs] was our leading scorer, Isaiah will be our leading scorer.” KW
    And there it is… Attention all Big East teams: Seton Hall is throwing their season so Isaiah Whitehead can be a stats accumulator…. At least both Whitehead and Willard will be gone next season.

  • LBP

    Hi Chris-glad I found your site-how bad this year?

    • Glad to have you!

      Haha. I’ll make a non-conference prediction next week and Big East prediction in December ?

  • PadrePirate

    Chris, any news on the injury to Veer? KW talked about a MRI monday. Haven’t heard since.

  • PadrePirate

    Hard to not be a pessimist after that first scrimmage game, but here’s a few, glaring stats from the box:

    – Rebounding: KW lamented at length about how “tough” it was to play B’s small line up. However, we should have dominated the boards and 37/33 in our favor isn’t exactly dominant against a team whose tallest guy on the floor was 6’3″

    – Turnovers: Over all, 15 TO’s to 14 assists, recipe for disaster against any opponent, DIII or not. 10 TO’s from our 3 starting guards is enough to sink this ship all year.

    – 3Pt: Other than KW’s 6-10 from long range, the other guys went a combined 0-6. KW says he anticipated the guys would shoot badly, butterflies I suppose, but we will need more range out of the others. Teams will quickly learn to trap/double IW just like they did to Gibbs last year. Hopefully, just some first game jitters.

  • Matty P

    Looks like St Johns is also struggling to start the season with their 32 point loss at Carnesecca to D2 St Thomas Aquinas.

    • fouline

      We might look good by default if they continue to stumble. We can only hope….

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