Even though Kevin Willard labeled Gene Teague as "50-50" entering yesterday's 79-66 loss to Creighton at Prudential Center, it looks as though the 'Big Fella' could see a few more missed games for Seton Hall.
"Eugene is going to be out for awhile, that's just the way it is," head coach Kevin Willard told 570 AM after the loss to Creighton. "He took a really hard fall, and we're going to be extra cautious and do what's best for him. Whether its a week, two weeks, three weeks, we just don't know and we really have to be careful with him and do what's in his best interest."
Willard added that Teague felt post-concussion symptoms as recently as Thursday during practice, something that resets the step-by-step recovery process that revolves around passing a linear battery of tests.
Willard said Teague was dizzy in practice Thursday. Could be out a week, a month or 2 months. Unknown. Will see neurologist again Monday.— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) January 4, 2014
Post-Lafayette, the game in which Teague suffered his horrifying concussion, Kevin Willard remained completely open to burning freshman forward Rashed Anthony's redshirt, pending the length of Teague and Aaron Geramipoor's (sprained ankle) injuries. "Yeah, Rashed and I had that conversation on the bench. I have to see how Aaron's ankle is, I have to see how Eugene is. If Eugene is going to be a month, its an easy decision. If hes going to be 2 games, its not, because I'm not going to ruin his [Anthonys] redshirt year... thats what I really have to careful about," Willard laid out on December 27th.
Now that Gene Teague has missed two games, and Aaron Geramipoor has essentially missed the same two after reinjuring his ankle in an effort to play against Providence (he scored four points in four minutes), it appears that the situation is leaning toward the "easy decision" that Willard described post-Lafayette.
"Its tough. I really want to play him [Rashed Anthony] right now," Willard admitted yesterday. "If I play him, I really have to commit to playing him the whole time, I can't just play him for one game. That's where I'm really stuck, we can use a big body when [Will] Artino (Creighton's 6-11 backup center) is in there, it would have been nice to have a bigger body in there and be able to get Brandon [Mobley] or Patrik [Auda] a little break and not have to battle against a bigger guy. But does he [Anthony] make a huge difference tonight? I don't think so, so that's where I'm kind of stuck [with Rashed] as a freshman. I'm not sure, I have to do what's right for him. I want to make sure I don't do something stupid where I look back at the end of the year and say ‘why did i do something like that?'"
With Teague scheduled to see a neurologist tomorrow, it looks like a decision on Rashed Anthony's future won't be made until after a prognosis on Monday and before Villanova on Wednesday. Kevin Willard wasn't clear on a return date for Aaron Geramipoor, but it sounds like he will be 50-50 at best on Wednesday.
"If Eugene were ready to come back all of a sudden next week, and I play Rashed, and all of a sudden Aaron comes back, then all of a sudden I'm trying to fit three centers in a hole and it just doesn't work out. The young man [Anthony] has been great, he works his butt off in practice, hes in the weight room and doing great things... I just have to do what's right for him."
Regardless of the pending decision on Rashed Anthony's immediate future, it also looks like Willard will tinker with the forwards already on the chessboard for the showdown with No. 11 Villanova. "I might mess with the starting lineup a little bit. Brandon and Pat, I don't know if they can handle these minutes playing against guys [post forwards] all the time. We'll figure it out, I'm not going to jump to conclusions here, [we'll] go back and watch the film and get better."
Both Patrik Auda (10 pts, 5 rebs, 30 mins) and Brandon Mobley (4 pts, 3 rebs, 31 mins) battled against Creighton, but were ultimately overpowered and exploited by the Bluejays' dynamic frontcourt. Looking forward, Villanova is shorter than most teams, sporting a frontline of starter 6-7 JayVaughn Pinkston (15.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and rotation players 6-11 Daniel Ochefu (4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 18.7 mpg), and 6-6 Kris Jenkins (4.2 ppg, 11.9 mpg). Nova will beat you in other ways, but post-forward grit hasn't been their strength in recent years. In response, Kevin Willard can play a lineup such as Sterling Gibbs, Jaren Sina, Brian Oliver, Fuquan Edwin, and Patrik Auda/Brandon Mobley for long stretches and not feel overpowered in the post. This will give the '5' not in the game a chance to rest while the other sees the court.
With so many moving parts off the court, one thing that Seton Hall will ultimately have to focus on, regardless of who is on the court, is rebounding. Without Gene Teague (7th in OReb%) and against one of the top defensive rebounding teams in the country, Seton Hall fell in a 9-0 offensive rebounding hole before Brandon Mobley hauled one in with 16:40 to play in the second half. Creighton won that battle 11-1 and overall rebounding 38-27. Despite playing a shorter lineup, Villanova ranks 73rd in OReb% and 91st in defensive OReb%, way short of pushovers on the glass.
"We have to figure out a way to rebound. It hurt us a little bit the other night [Providence], we got luck with it, and it really killed us tonight," admitted Kevin Willard. "We got to get second opportunities, we got to get second chances. You've got to be able to rebound a three, kick it out and get another one. That's where we're struggling and that's where we have to improve, that's where we really have to focus on... We've got to rebound the basketball."