Seton Hall put on one of their better offensive performances in awhile, in turn throttling an NCAA-hungry Georgetown 82-67 late last night at Prudential Center. Here are some thoughts from Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard from his post-game interview with Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin on 970 AM.
11 of the Pirates first 12 made baskets were assisted, an accurate indicator of their dedication to crisp ball movement and unselfish play. "I thought the thirteen assists early, I thought the first half really set the tone for us. I thought everybody passed the basketball really well," said Kevin Willard. "Defensively, once we locked in a little bit, made them take some tough twos, it was very similar to our first game, we were able to get out and get some easy buckets in transition." The combination of Jaren Sina and Fuquan Edwin was lights out in transition with Sina always looking for the stealthy wing while pushing the ball. Their dedication to pushing the tempo was matched by Sterling Gibbs in the second half. "Even in the beginning of the second half we were able to do that, when they cut it back down to five, they made a nice run, but we made a nice run back. [Seton Hall's all-important 8-0 run led by Gibbs' transition pushes]. And I thought once we got it back to nine or ten we were able to keep it there."
The home team had a week off after battling to a 1-point loss to St. John's exactly a week prior. "I really thought the week off, we took three days off during that week, I don't usually do that, I usually only give them one off, but I gave them three off. It gave everybody a chance to charge their batteries, refocus," analyzed Willard. "I really had a goal for them, I put a goal out on the board: Let's try to go 6-0. Let's try to string some wins together, see what we can do.
"We had three good practices on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, a good walkthrough here. We switched it up, these nine o'clock games, we're coming down here now early, staying down here. I think that really helps, you don't have to be on the bus and come down during traffic time and on campus we don't have a place where we can eat on campus that much [assuming Willard meant at the right time for a pre-game meal for 9 p.m. game]. I think coming down here, even for the St. John's game, you guys saw it, we were here the whole time. We were here the whole day, I thought that was too long, but I think today, guys went to classes in the morning, we came here for walkthrough, and we kind of got a good rhythm. Guys were able to get shots up. I thought that really had a lot to do with it, we kind of approached it like a road game. Going to the hotel for a half day, having a pregame, we play well on the road and it felt good to play good at home. The students were terrific, I really thought the student section - and they were here early. Our guys came in for the second 30-minute [warm up] and they were all talking about the students. The students have been fantastic all year, we have a great student body and they showed up."
Fuquan Edwin led all scorers with an efficient (6-7 2pt, 3-6 3pt) 21 points. "I thought Fuquan played very well," said Willard. "He came out and he shot a couple quick threes in the second half but then he settled down. Defensively, he led us in deflections, two steals, getting out on the break. It's funny, I'll say it, that's the way he plays on the road. I think we've seen it at Xavier, at Georgetown the first time, very controlled, he just played very well."
Freshman guard Jaren Sina was handed a start while Sterling Gibbs came off the bench at the 14:56 mark. "Whether Jaren comes off the bench or Sterling comes off the bench, they're both going to have to play 28-32 minutes per game. Gary [Cohen] and I talked about it before the game, we've 6 games left, I have a lot of confidence in Jaren, just like I have a lot confidence in Sterling obviously. I gave Jaren a chance to get out there early in the game, you know sometimes coming off the bench isn't the greatest thing for a guy. I wanted to give Jaren a chance to get his jitters out in the warmup line instead of the first three minutes he gets on the court. I thought Jaren did a good job of getting everybody involved in the game. Sterling gave us a nice punch when he came in."
The Pirates dipped their toes in a brief drought that occurred on both sides of the halftime break which saw Georgetown cut their deficit to three points at the 17:52 mark of the second half. The push was answered by a game-saving 8-0 Seton Hall run that was led by Sterling Gibbs and stout defense. "We put Sterling back in with Jaren, so we had two guards out there to calm down [things], they were pressing Jaren a bit, with H [Haralds Karlis] and Fu' out there, we didn't have another ball handler, so we got Jaren and Sterling out there," diagramed Willard. "I thought we did a good job defensively, got a couple rebounds, a steal, a layup, a layup. I thought the guys did a great job of finding guys for three today. Eugene [Teague] had a big pass out to Jaren. I forget who kicked it out to Brian [Oliver], I think it was Jaren who kicked it out to Brian for a three. We spent three good days getting ready for them. We knew their stuff, it was just a matter of making sure we rebound the basketball, and which again we only had seven offensive rebounds," diagnosed Willard, whose team finished the game with a 26% offensive rebounding percentage, just below their 26.7% (306th) OReb average. "We're going to have to go back and watch the film and figure that out a little bit maybe run some other stuff to get both of our big guys in there [the paint]. We try to space our guys out a little bit, but we need to get some more offensive rebounds."
Redshirt junior forward Patrik Auda pulled down a few tough rebounds and came alive when Georgetown started pressuring the ball mid-way through the second half. "Patty's played great. Brandon's played really good the last couple of games. That's the good thing about them, they compliment each other well. Patty sometimes get a little bit more comfortable coming off the bench, seeing the game a little bit, getting going. Pat played real well, rebounded the ball better, again thats something that were talking to him about. I liked the fact he took two threes. That's the difference about teams pressing when he's in there, if you hit him, he's going to drive and make a play. It's a big difference having him in the middle gap."
Seton Hall travels to Omaha, Nebraska to take on Creighton Sunday afternoon. The Jays have not lost at CenturyLink Center since November 28th of 2012 (Boise State). Look for a preview from South Orange Juice on Saturday afternoon.