Seton Hall didn't play particularly poor, but was ultimately overwhelmed 76-66 last night by a Providence team that is thirsty for an NCAA at-large bid. Kevin Johnson did not take the bus trip to Rhode Island due to "time management" issues that are believed to be related to attending practice. Ironically, Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard was a no-show for his regular post-game interview with Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin of 1250 WMTR, his second no-show on the season. Brendan Prunty of the The Star-Ledger was told this was due to... time management issues.
Quotes from Kevin Willard's post-game press conference, courtesy of The Setonian:
On what went wrong: "We've kind of done it to ourselves a lot. I thought we played really well, but turnovers hurt us in the first half."
"We were a little rusty and I think the turnovers might have been the cause of that,"
"I thought we got a little worn down. Mentally I thought we had some good opportunities that got us a little deflated. I though the guys battled and gave us good opportunities, we just didn't take them."
On the play of Providence: "Kadeem [Batts] played great, he's by far the most improved player in the league. When he is playing that well, with those two guards [Cotton, Council], they are tough to beat."
"[Providence's] two guards are playing as well as anyone in the league. They are playing at a very high level for the minutes they are playing and it's a testament to the type of players they are."
On facing Rutgers on Friday: "I think winning your last home game is very important. At this point we are just trying to get ‘W's. It could be against the Knicks and it would be just as important."
Quotes from the Providence locker room:
"It's no lie that we as a team want to play as long as we can. We want to make history with this team. This is a real special team and we want to take advantage of it."
"They [Seton Hall] had a lot of easy looks in the first half, so we wanted to make sure we took away the three and played tough inside,"
"We talked about whatever we needed to do for our senior Vince Council. Let's make his last home game something that he'll remember. Today was one of those days where you just have to gut out a win."
"Kevin [Willard] is a good coach. He made great adjustments when we wanted to double the post [Gene Teague] in the 1st half."
Interesting Stats & Notes:
This was Providence's first sweep of Seton Hall since 1995. Surging.
With Seton Hall's loss last night, Rutgers clinched the 11th seed in the Big East Tournament. Seeds are not set in stone, but the Pirates will likely play South Florida next Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden.
Providence took 10 more shots than Seton Hall last night. The Friars were +8 on the offensive glass and +4 in turnovers. Difference making.
After Gene Teague picked up his fourth foul with Seton Hall trailing 59-54 and 7:58 to play in the game, Providence immediately went on a game-clinching 12-3 run over a 3:50 span.
The Friars assisted on 19 of their 27 made baskets, good enough for an assist rate of 70% on the night. Cohesion.
Last night marked the fourth time this season that Kevin Willard has been a no-show to his post-game interview with WMTR or has closed the Seton Hall locker room after a loss.