After a leaky defensive effort in the first half against Caldwell yesterday afternoon, Seton Hall clamped down on defense and ran out to a 96-68 victory in an exhibition tuneup. In addition to my game story, I'll provide the rest of the quotes I received from Kevin Willard, Brandon Mobley, and Isaiah Whitehead a few thoughts from the game.
As I made clear in my game story, Angel Delgado (14 pts, 7 rebs, 4 OReb, 3 blks) exceeded my expectations on the offensive end of the court. While the level of competition certainly played a factor, it's notable that a freshman forward would display obvious confidence in his ability in the paint. Delgado scored in several different ways, showed multiple post moves, and did his job on the boards, especially the offensive glass. Fouls will be a concern for Angel (4 in 17 minutes0, especially against better post players (although Michael Balkovic was no fluke), but this is a solid platform to build off of.
Guard play: Jaren Sina (14 pts, 5 asts) and Sterling Gibbs (19 pts) looked in sync, especially early on when the game was close. They both shared the rock in a 1a and 1b point guard setup while Isaiah Whitehead (8 pts, 5 asts, 3 stls) played as a scoring guard at the three. Kevin Willard said Isaiah will be eased into a more expansive role that involves him being on the ball, but that will come in time. Sina's behind the scenes leadership looks to have translated into on the court play and he looked confident in all aspects. Gibbs was calm and collected as a lead guard and his outside shot (2-for-3) was on the money. Whitehead did not look like a freshman and fit right in with the other guys.
This team can fill it up. Once Seton Hall focused on defense in the second half and Caldwell started to cool off from the field, the Pirates smelled blood in the water, translating into a ruthless transition game. It was also refreshing to see a consistent full court press out of a Willard team for the first time in a while. As always, there will be times when a press gets beaten for easy buckets, but the Hall's depth will play to their advantage by rotating guys in and out, which Willard did often on Sunday. 100 points would have been easily reached if Seton Hall didn't ease off the gas pedal, which is considerable after last year's senior-laden team only accumulated 67 points against Caldwell.
Brandon Mobley (5 pts, 9 rebs, 3 blks):
On his perimeter play early on: "I was jump shot happy in the first half. I talked with coach at the half time and coach told me if I could start with shooting a free throw or shooting a two-pointer then I could expand my game. I just wanted to start in the paint [in the second half], we played a couple plays early for me and that helped."
His thoughts on Angel Delgado and Rashed Anthony: "Angel is good, he's real emotional, he got upset when he missed two free throws and then airballed one. I just had to tell them both, it's the first game, just to relax and just play like you played in high school. Be comfortable. And in the second half, that's what they both did. Rashed came in and blocked shots, he was energy. I told him don't worry about the fouls, we dont you to play 40 minutes, just come in there and give everything you've got, and that's what he did."
On Angel Delgado's free throw ability (he was 0-for-6): "Definitely has to improve on that. He tends to miss one and tends to think about it so much and that kind of affected him a little bit for a couple possessions."
His thoughts on Rashed Anthony's fifth block that brought him several yards onto the court: "Rashed is my guy, I just tell him to play with all the energy he can, don't worry about fouls. I kind of think of him like Anderson Verejao (Cleveland Cavs), how he just goes out there and does dirty work. [I tell him] Go for every offensive rebound, don't care if you get an over the back call, you went for it. It was good to see him happy and see him play because we're definitely going to need him down the stretch
On Angel Delgado: "I think he didn't have as many rebounds in the first half simply because they weren't missing so he didn't have a lot of rebounds to get. But in the second half he just picked it up and started boarding and playing more defense and he was a monster."
On the Hall's up-tempo play: "Thats basically another reason why he [Willard] starts three guards. Whoever gets the ball off the rebound can just push it. Trying to get as many easy baskets as possible."
When questioned about calming down Delgado early on: "Angel's an emotional guy. He was mad he missed a layup, and then ‘cause he got mad he missed the two free throws. He plays with a lot of emotion and guys who play with a lot of emotion sometimes you just gotta calm them down. I think he's maturing where he understands when he plays, I use the word frustrated, he doesn't play as well when hes just playing within himself."
On if the training wheels have already come off regarding up-tempo play: "I thought we did a decent job, I thought we got a little sloppy at times in the second half and even the first half, but if you're going to press, teams are going to score on you and also they're also going to get opps. I thought we shot the ball much better than I thought we'd shoot the basketball."
His thoughts on Isaiah Whitehead's debut: "Actually it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. He's got a lot of pressure on him, everyone expects unbelievable things and i think once he kind of gets into his rhythm and gets past the nerves a little bit, you're going to see a lot better numbers. 5 assists for him, he's a 6/7 assist type guy. And his shooting will get much better, he missed a couple of easy ones. It's just a matter of understanding its his first freshman game ... For him hes a guy thats got to make some shots and make some plays. I thought once we put him back in there the second time, he was really good.
"When you have as many freshmen, I'm trying to make sure they understand what their roles are right now and then we can expand what he's going to do. For right now, we have 18 plays in, 5 defenses, we have 6 underneath out of bounds plays and 4 sideline out of bounds plays, it's a lot of stuff. Just getting him comfortable in one setting, is my goal. Once he gets a little more comfortable then we can kind of move him around and pick and choose our spots with him."
On Khadeen Carrington's debut [5 pts, 2 asts, 2-8 fg]: "Right now, I think Khadeen is going to see more minutes as the year goes on."
On Rashed Anthony's contribution [4 rebs, 5 blks, 0-1 fg]: "I thought he did a really good job. He's just got to get a little bit better fundamentally defensively, and when he does, I think he's really going to help us."
Thoughts on Brandon Mobley straying from the basket too much: "He's a career 38/39-percent three-pointer shooter, so that is a weapon. He had 9 rebounds, offensively if he makes one of those threes, he had a really good post move, I think he has a really good game. Brandon's more or less our guy out that understands what to do. Even though fans are expecting huge numbers out of him, I'm expecting more of him getting everybody to know what to do, and he's really done a good job of that so far."