Following about an hour of interviews between Kevin Willard and his team at Seton Hall Media Day yesterday, everyone headed down to the auxiliary gym below Walsh Gym for an open practice. Here are my thoughts on what I observed prior to the practice being closed off to media about 45 minutes in.
- Format: The team warmed up for about 10-15 minutes by stretching and performing a few cardio activities. The first basketball-related drill was a full court 3-on-3 break out scenario that emphasized speed in transition (especially from the trailing forward) and stopping the ball when on defense. The next drill was a half court set up designed for ball movement and offensive rebounding. The five offensive players would move the ball around in the half court and one or two forwards would sit inside looking to battle for offensive rebounds. Next, the team was being juggled for certain match ups that Kevin Willard wanted in a full court 5-on-5 scenario. Willard purposefully matched up Sterling Gibbs and Isaiah Whitehead here, while the two guards naturally clashed in a few of the other drills too. The team would operate during each drill for a set amount of time that was put on the scoreboard.
Desi Rodriguez: On at least four different occasions, Kevin Willard was giving instruction to Desi Rodriguez that was explicitly telling him to play closer to the paint and baseline. This aligns with Willlard's intention to use Rodriguez as a match up problem at the four in smaller lineups. On a side note, Desi had a very impressive put-back dunk during the 3-on-3 full court drill.
More from Seton Hall Media Day: Quote Notebook: Carrington injury scare, the 'Country Boys', and who Sterling was texting after his game-winning shot
- Leadership: Most of the coaching was done by Kevin Willard and Shaheen Holloway (Fred Hill and Tiny Morton also interjected, but only so many people can yell at the same time), but Haralds Karlis was one of the most vocal members of the team. At one point he was offering advice to Desi on hedging out on a defender while also leading the team through encouragement. We've heard a lot about the older guys helping the younger guys and Karlis was the best example of this yesterday.
- Angel Delgado: It was only a small sample size, but Delgado displayed confidence and the offensive skill set that has "surprised" Kevin Willard by nailing an elbow jumper during a 5-on-5 drill. He may not be ready to score in the paint, but pulling defenders out to the elbow like Brandon Mobley would be a nice asset to have, though his main priority will be to attack the offensive glass.
- Stephane Manga: The senior wing looked impressive early on with his outside shot, but Willard seemed to be disproportionately on his case, specifically when defending. He was instructed several times to keep his hands up on defense and to improve his defensive posture.
- Mike Nzei: Partial qualifiers are allowed to be on scholarship and practice, but Nzei wasn't present at Media Day or practice, perhaps due to a coaches decision to hold him out. On that note, Chier Ajou, who isn't eligible until December, joined Delgado, Ish Sanogo, and Brandon Mobley as one of the four forwards at practice. He runs the floor pretty well, but not much else was displayed in the small sample size.