Bobby Gonzalez spoke during the Big East conference call this afternoon and directly (or indirectly) addressed my post from yesterday where I spoke on his decision to bench hazell, the refusal to foul and the minimal urgency shown in Seton Hall's last five possessions while the Pirates were trailing by double-digits.
Listen to Bobby's conference call here. The very last question, from J.P. Pelzman of the Bergen-Record asked the head coach to touch upon the benching of Hazell. Gonzalez was very adamant that there was, "a lot of confusion" out there pertaining to why he took Hazell out, insisting that Hazell was benched for not getting back on defense and refusing to join his teammates in a huddle. Bobby stated, it had nothing to do with, "waving the white flag, or quitting or giving up." Immediately after answering the Hazell question, Bobby denied the notion that he refused to foul in order to preserve a moral victory which I insinuated in yesterday's post. His reasoning baffled me and you can read his response in the quotes listed below. It sounded like Bobby was provided with a copy of my post and ran through it on the phone, objecting where he saw fit.
Jerry Carino's blog posted select quotes including:
"I didn’t take Jeremy out just because of shot selection. People think he missed some shots and I yanked him. What needs to be cleared up is Jeremy didn’t run back on defense, which is basically a cardinal sin."
This is not the same reasoning Bobby provided immediately following the game. When asked by the press why Hazell was Benched, Gonzalez ORIGINALLY replied with:
You just can’t go 1-on-5 and be putting your head down and complaining to the refs on every call and taking bad shots. It’s not good for the team, the offense, the coaching staff, it’s just not good. It’s not the way you want to play college basketball. I wouldn’t be doing a good job if I allowed him to do that — I’m not teaching him, I’m not helping him. So I took him out.
Gonzalez was pretty adamant after the game that he took Jeremy out due to poor shot selection, going 1-on-5, complaining to the refs and taking bad shots. Why the sudden 180 today? On the call, he stated over and over again that bad shot selection wasn't why he took Jeremy out and insisted it was because he didn't run back on defense. Right.
Later, during the conference call, he added:
"The other thing is you can’t stand outside of the huddle and not join your teammates in the huddle. I don’t want to call a guy out but I want to make it clear that the stuff he did was unacceptable. Those were the reasons why he didn’t go back in the game. It has nothing to do with waving he white flag or giving up."
So now, Jeremy didn't get back on defense and didn't join his teammates in the huddle, which were the reasons why he was removed. Those are definitely valid reasons to remove a player from the game, all I'm asking is, why didn't Gonzalez say this after the game? I understand not wanting to throw the player under the bus, but Bobby specifically told the media that Hazell was benched due to shot selection and taking bad shots. I don't understand how Gonzo can be angry that people are criticizing him for certain things which he specifically told the media following the game. And yes, he was angry.
Again, a player not getting back on defense or in a huddle during a timeout are reasons that any coach should remove a player for. Having said that, was this the first time Hazell, "didn't get back on defense" this season? No, just like it hasn't been the first time Jeremy took bad shots. So whatever Gonzalez wants to go with, let me be clear, we have NOT seen this coaching philosophy from him all season. He has never benched Jeremy in crunch time in the first 19 games for taking bad shots and he has never benched Jeremy in crunch time for not getting back on defense. This was a first. Again, I can get behind this coaching philosophy any day of the week, but that day better be the day the season begins, not 20 games later.
I also questioned why Gonzalez refused to foul down 13 points with 3 minutes remaining, likening the move to the the head coach waving the white flag and giving up. I alluded that Bobby was trying to preserve a moral victory by keeping the score close, not rushing their offensive possessions and refusing to send Villanova to the line. Bobby responded:
"The part about not fouling with three minutes to go, Villanova is the No. 1 free throw shooting team in the conference. It’s not a moral victory but I don’t want to from 10 points to losing by 25. It just doesn’t make sense."
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but does that statement contradict itself? I mean, he's making an out for the moral victory clause, citing Villanova shoots the best percentage in the Big East conference. Then he states it's not a moral victory, but he didn't want to go from 10 points, to losing by 25, "it just doesn't make sense." No, it doesn't make sense, what Bobby described was a dead accurate description of a moral victory. Come March, the selection committee doesn't care whether you lost by 10 or 20 to Villanova at the Pavilion, what they may care about is whether you fought until the very end.
Lastly, it's quite apparent that Bobby Gonzalez reads Gonzo Ball after listening to his conference call. The reason being, I haven't seen anyone else in the media, whether internet or print, call him out for waving the white flag, the refusal to foul/moral victory or why Seton Hall took their time on their last five possessions trailing by double-digits. Gonzo was nice enough to answer two of the three questions I posed last night, maybe next week he'll speak to why his offense took 25 seconds or more on three of their last five possessions. Although I disagree with the double-talk from Gonzalez after the game to his new stance now, it was nice of him to respond without being obligated to do so. Thanks Coach.