Seton Hall has their eyes on the prize after big win over Providence

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NEWARK – Seton Hall essentially replicated their performance in Rhode Island by rallying around a 15-0 run that sandwiched the halftime break and then fended off a Ben Bentil-induced Providence run to notch their first 20-win regular season since 2003-04 with a commanding 70-52 win at Prudential Center.

Isaiah Whitehead (25 pts, 8-12 fg, 9 asts, 6 rebs, 4 blks) was incredible from start to finish while Angel Delgado (14 pts, 10 rebs), Khadeen Carrington (12 pts, 7 rebs) and Desi Rodriguez (11 pts, 8 rebs) all reached double figures and played their roles to a ‘T’ to outlast a dominating performance from Providence’s Ben Bentil (31 pts, 6 rebs).

Seton Hall clearly benefited from Kris Dunn (8 pts, 0 asts, 3 TOs) being ill as they held him to a goose-egg in the assist column for the first time since January of 2013 and the turning point of the game came when Derrick Gordon drew what seemed like his 32nd charge on Dunn this season in the closing seconds of the first half.

“He’s big, that 3 [attempt] before the half, I wanted to choke him,” joked Isaiah Whitehead about Gordon. “I told him when we got back down the floor, I told him ‘Get it back on defense, get it back on defense’’ and he took that huge charge on Dunn and then I was able to come down and hit a three, I think that was a big momentum-changer.”

Much like the meeting in Friartown, the bang-bang sequence prevented Providence from getting within a point at the break and helped keep alive a 7:21 Friar field goal drought that was embedded in the Hall’s 15-0 run.

After building a 52-32 lead at the under-12, Providence came storming back to within 7 while riding on the shoulders of Ben Bentil, who made it feel like he couldn’t miss a shot for a stretch, but again Whitehead added gas to his team’s tank by setting up an Ish Sanogo dunk to squash the Friar’s run and then he made his best pass yet with another behind-the-head pass, this time to Desi Rodriguez.

“I tried to get it there anyway possible and that was the best way to get it [there],” said Whitehead of his pass. “It’s basketball instincts, I can’t tell you what I was thinking at that time, what was going through my mind.”

Whitehead’s dish followed up on Rodriguez drawing a flagrant two on Bentil for a vicious clothesline on a hard drive and sparked the small forward’s personal 9-0 run, putting the final nail in Providence’s coffin.

Now sitting at 20-7 (10-5) and third in the Big East, Seton Hall are now torn between focusing on the next game and focusing on the big stage of the NCAA tournament.

“I try to keep it off everyone’s mind, but DG [Derrick Gordon] is a big influence in the locker room,” joked Whitehead. “Once he starts talking about it, everybody else starts talking about it and I’m like ‘Oh man I hope we stay focused on our next game’. I try to take it a game at a time, as long as we keep winning and playing well, we’re going to get there.”

When Kevin Willard was asked about what it means for this team to win 20 regular season games for the first time since 2003-04, he deflected as well as Derrick Gordon does on the court.

“They don’t mean anything to me. I’m extremely excited for the kids in the locker room. They came here for this purpose, to do this. Great players win games, I feel I have some really good players and they’re winning games.”

As for Isaiah Whitehead, he’s still hungry to make more noise.

“Those guys don’t really respect us a lot,” said Isaiah of bracket projections. “So as long as we keep winning and winning and winning, there’s no way they can keep us out of it … We’ve won 7 of our last 8 and we still haven’t really gotten any respect. Our motto is win games and they cant keep us out.”

  • Coach Mike

    If we win v Xavier on Sunday they should play Bowie’s, “Let’s Dance” on the way out! Good job coach, staff and players…and of course…make your foul shots…

  • Please excuse any typos in advance, this was the equivalent of a freestyle due to train I had to catch. :)

    • LBP

      Chris -you never have to say your sorry-you have done a great job with this Board ( which is one of the best informed and interesting blogs on any sports subjects)

      • ThePirateFan

        Seconded. We eat up everything you write, Chris.

        • Dan

          Agreed. Thank you, Chris for the great updates.

      • shufaninva

        So true. You are the best Chris!!

      • Thanks guys!!

    • shufaninva

      So true!! You are the best!!

  • ThePirateFan

    Great win, love what I’m seeing. They are playing so unselfishly, everybody that gets on the floor brings something significant to the table, it’s really an exciting time to be a Hall fan. That’s the good news.

    The bad news is they still have to win 2 more regular season games or they’re playing for their dancing shoes in the BET. Butler has had their number lately, and if Hall loses to Xavier and Butler down the stretch, chances are pretty good they’ll have a Butler rematch in the BET. They absolutely SHOULD win 2 of their next 4 (if not 3), but it’s a subtle reminder that our guys have to keep the pedal to the floor. DePaul is an absolute must-win.

  • LBP

    Hall can win out but I believe Friar win sealed Tournie bid-this Team is GOOD

    • ThePirateFan

      I hope that’s the case (just in case it hits the fan!), but RPI projections drop SHU to #57 if SHU beats DePaul while losing Xavier, Butler, and BET game (using Butler here, but I think it’s worse with any other team). I think SHU needs 2 more wins.

  • SHULaw05

    What a tremendous all around game from this team. It’s time to give our Pirates their due! All of our players came out hungry and contributed in many different ways. We are 7-1 in February!

    Love the players’ comments after the game indicating that they know they must keep winning and playing hard. Defense, Defense, Defense! Truly stunning game from Isaiah. Stat line is outrageous.

    Very relieved that Desi didn’t seem to be injured from Bentil’s pathetic takedown. Refs absolutely made the right call ejecting him. Could’ve ended a career with such reckless display of frustration. Terrific and classy move by Desi to embrace Bentil after such a nasty spill. Rodriguez played fantastic D and his 8-0 run ended any hopes that Providence had late in the 2nd half.

    Chris, tremendous job on the dual post-game articles. Pirate Nation is grateful for all your great work here.

    Now looking to X on Sunday, the Rock will be packed city. What an upcoming game to have on deck. Pirates are hungry for more! Proud to be a Pirate and simply can’t wait for Sunday!

    • 5-1 in February, actually (7-1 over last 8 tho). I think I tweeted KW’s February record (horrible) to start the month. I’d have to re-calculate.

      Edit: 9-27 since he took over in 2010

      • SHULaw05

        You are spot on, Chris. I was looking at our games on 1/27 and 1/29. I will take 5-1 any day of the week! Hoping to make it 6-1 in Feb. after Sunday. The 9-27 is something this squad will balance more favorably over the next two years.

  • Hallbuster

    Props to the coaches and more props to the players. Really peaking at the perfect time. Fun to watch them have fun and at same time play with a chip on their shoulder. So all the people who said we didn’t get style points in our win at St. John’s, did we get them tonight?? Those same people now saying providence isn’t a good team and sweeping them in blow out fashion isn’t impressive anymore. News flash, providence is good, but we are that much better!! Sick of people belittling this team”s accomplishments. Isaiah is right, they get no respect, and it’s driving them. Keep it up. Win the big east tournament and they will say the big east sucks lol. Win the national title and they will say it was a down year in college basketball. So sick of it. Complain when there is something to complain about. Not now! Give these guys some credit!!!! And put on your dancing shoes!

    • You make good points, but there is also validity to people degrading Providence and it was happening prior to last night. Like I wrote, Friars have only beaten Georgetown since they upset Villanova and are a two-trick pony, one of which was ill last night. FTR, Providence is 59th in KenPom

  • Joe Schmoe

    So at this juncture the press is still calling Providence “in” and SHU as “on the fence” because Providence beat Nova and Arizona…and the hall “hasnt really beaten anybody”. What a crock…i say use it as motivation. this is currently the best season in a loooong time. SHU is playing with house money now. Get amped up and beat Xavier. That will shut them up.

  • Matt

    It’s despicable that even if we lost to Butler and Xavier but beat DePaul we would be considered a Bubble Team. Great win last night. Whitehead NBA bound? I thought after the St. John’s game there wasn’t a chance he was. Now he is changing my mind again!

    • Joe Schmoe

      hes still not NBA ready. He needs to keep doing what hes doing though. Beat Xavier…they’ll be ranked and leave no doubt…..

      • VinBick

        Agree with you, Joe. IW would be a second round pick this year with no real money or guarantees of a roster spot. He needs one, and probably two more years at the Hall to develop fully for the next level as a first round pick.

    • ThePirateFan

      He might be ready, but I don’t see how going could be in his best interest in terms of his first contract. A full year playing the way he is now will see him in the first round. Right now I can’t imagine that being the case, he’s had some great games and frankly he’s had some poor games. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t see a team using a high pick on a guy so inconsistent. If he can stay healthy next season (big if, I know) teams will be able to focus much more on his positives and have less reservations about the inconsistency.

    • That would mean an RPI of about 49 going into the BET, coupled with a mediocre non-conference schedule and only 1 notable road win (at PC) and that’s basically the definition of a bubble team.

  • Louie Dee

    By the way IW pass was top 10 on ESPN last night.

    • Matty P

      Was watching again this morning and the announcer messed up and said Whiteside. Luckily Bob Ley was around and was yelling Whitehead at him.

      • VinBick

        Hey, Matty, the Fox Sports I announcers at the Georgetown game called me “Vin Bickol” as one of the first Hall Line hosts on WSOU. So what. As long as they are talking about the Hall on ESPN, so what if they misname IW?

        The Pirates are flying under the radar nationally. That will make for an advantage in the Big Dance. Without respect, teams will underestimate the Hall helping us beat the so-called better teams along the way.

        • Matty P

          Agreed as long as they are mentioning us that’s what counts. I just found it nice that the SHU alum was correcting the announcer from the other side of the room.

    • No. 1? No. 10? Somewhere in between?

      • Louie Dee

        No. 6

  • fouline

    The best win of the season. Shall we dance?

    • Joe Schmoe

      Not quite yet…. need to keep the momentum going. Need to finish strong and take at least two of the last 3 to secure the 3rd seed in the BET. Then need to not get upset in the game vs the #6 seed. With a two game lead over the 4 seed in the conference, I think the bubble bursts if we fall to #4….

      • Joe J

        1 more Hall win and 1 more Creighton loss clinches the 3rd seed in the Big East for Seton Hall. I like our chances considering Creighton still has games left at Xavier and at Providence. Nobody else can catch us at 11-7.

        • HallBall10

          Joe. Finishing 3rd place in the conference doesn’t impact our NCAA chances at all. Conference standings are completely irrelevant when it comes to earning an NCAA bid.

          The biggest things out of our control that we could hope for:

          1A. Providence finishes strong and finishes top 50.
          1B Wichita St. wins out
          2. Other bubble teams lose
          3. Our top 100 wins stay in the top 100 and Marq creeps in there.
          4. Our worse loss, LBSU stays in the top 100.

          • Joe J

            They say Conference standing are irrelevant but I don’t believe it. If the Hall gets left out then only Nova and Xavier would get bids. You know the Big East will get more than 2 bids. It’s all politics too. They won’t take a 4th or 5th place Butler or Providence team and leave out a 3rd place Seton Hall team with 11 Conference wins. That won’t happen. 11 Conference wins in the Big East and 21 overall wins will get any Big East team a bid. This is not the Big East of the 90’s but it is still a top rated and well respected Conference.

          • 21 wins and 11 league wins is fine, but you still need to account for the BET. For example, SHU can finish the season with 21 wins and 11 league wins but with an RPI of 56. Very well could miss out.

            Win either of Xavier/Butler and win one of DePaul/BET game (so a 2-2 finish) and they’re a 100% lock.

          • HallBall10

            Well believe it… Providence could hypothetically finish 7th(win 2 of the next 3) and a BET win against St. Johns and still make it…… There are still scenarios where the Big East could get anywhere from 2-6 at large bids. (creighton as the 6th very unlikely but maybe still possible)

            Temple could win the American conference and not get a bid while Uconn, Cincy, and Tulsa all get at large bids.

            Conference standings do not matter.

          • Joe Schmoe

            I didn’t say that finishing third would. I said we should concentrate on the three remaining games left to play, lock up the three seed, not get upset by the six seed in the BET…and be playing in the semis… The big east tourney should be fun this year. I think this team can run with anyone on a neutral court. No sense hoping or worrying about stuff that’s out of the teams control. Whatever happens this is the most successful Reg season in a long time…

          • HallBall10

            Joe, I’m with you.

            We have more work to do and winning games is the best way to help secure our bid.

            Let’s go Pirates!

  • Jersey Jerry

    Well that was FUN ~ LUV the start of the 2nd half … kids need to keep up the “D” and play hard … ROCK needs to be ROCK’N on Sunday 4 sure!

    With regards to some of the comments below about NO RESPECT ~ well, I saw that we only had 6 votes in one poll; however, here’s what the Pensacola News Journal said about the game last night ~ gotta LOVE the #24 in front of our name!!!! Win Sunday and it could be much higher as X could be #1 come Monday!!! GO HALL ~ WHY NOT US?!?!?!?!?

    • Ha, quite the typo.

    • hallstorm

      Love it. That’s pretty great.

  • shufaninva

    I love how this team doesn’t come out flat to start games. That is a problem we have had since the 90’s!!! We also come out strong to start the 2nd half in most games.
    Firing hot at the right time!!

    3,634 days and counting since our last tournament game. Time to get the number down to zero!!

    Hazard Zet Forward!!

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      Agreed. They definitely know how to finish games, such a difference from last year. After last night’s win, the Hall is 16-0 this year when leading at halftime.

      • When asked about that stat, Willard tongue in cheek [paraphrasing]: “I guess that means we have some good half time speeches and make good adjustments [laughs]”

        • WilponsStinkLessNow

          Haha, nice one Willard. Lot of good vibes around this team right not. I’m predicting the upset Sunday.

  • Matt

    Game is sold out. Should open the 2nd bowl. The Rock will be great Sunday.

    • Ticket demand needs to be felt around 2 weeks in advance. Once that happens, goodbye curtain. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, off memory, only the Villanova game was game close to really filling in the lower bowl.