Seton Hall overcame foul trouble and was able to hold a double-digit lead over Gardner-Webb's head for most of the game as the Pirates advanced to the Paradise Jam final with an 85-67 win tonight. My five thoughts from the game and quotes from Kevin Willard's post-game radio interview on AM 970.
More scoring balance on display. As Brandon Mobley plodded to the bench just 95 seconds into the first half with four fouls, I thought Seton Hall would be in a little bit of trouble as he was supposed to be a match-up weapon on offense. Desi Rodriguez' 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half in the place of Mobley, proved me wrong. Rodriguez and Angel Delgado's 12 points (and 11 rebounds) joined the usual culprits of Jaren Sina (14 pts, 4-6 3pt) and Sterling Gibbs (16 pts, 3-5 3pt, 5 asts) in double figures.
+15. As expected with Gardner-Webb's 344th-best effective height, Seton Hall had their way on the glass, 48-33. 13 of Seton Hall's 18 offensive boards came before halftime and were crucial in giving the Hall extra opportunities at buckets in a frenetic, sloppy first half. Lost amongst the stats is Desi Rodriguez' nine boards as he filled in nicely for foul-plagued Mobley.
Isaiah Whitehead is better at setting up his teammates than shooting the ball. Including the Caldwell exhibition, Whitehead is now a collective 10-of-42 from the field. He is now routinely forcing shots (more on this later) from all over the court, but looks a lot more capable of setting teammates up off the dribble. Nearly all of Whitehead's six assists tonight were impressive and included drive-and-dish set ups for Angel Delgado and high school teammate Desi Rodriguez in the paint.
Outside shooting is now officially a part of the Sterling Gibbs scouting report. Gibbs is 5-of-10 from long range this season, but has displayed a lot more confidence and discretion in his outside shot thus far. Gibbs has picked his spots well and has benefitted from the emergence of Jaren Sina (8-16 3pt) alongside him on the perimeter. If Whitehead eventually gets his shot going, or Khadeen Carrington emerges as a consistent outside shooter, that is four outside threats when including Brandon Mobley.
Seton Hall got away with one in the fouls department. Against better competition, playing most of the game without Brandon Mobley and most of the second half without Rashed Anthony isn't going to fly. Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, and Ismael Sanogo just aren't ready to take on the full weight of the two forward roles. Like Seton Hall, Gardner-Webb struggled from the line (22-of-33) tonight and didn't force the Hall to pay for the fouls they committed. It's important to note that not every game will be played as frantic as this one though.
On taking advantage of Gardner-Webb's height: "You have to give [Tyrell] Nelson and [Jerome] Hill credit though, they were a load underneath. I kind of made the decision: let them score, take away threes. The only way they were really going to beat us was if they hit more threes than us, we go 9-for-20, they go 5-for-21. I thought we shot the ball the way we can shoot the basketball. Jaren's going to be our main guy shooting threes."
Analyzing Isaiah Whitehead's play: "Isaiah took a lot of bad shots. He's got to learn to stay away from, the things he could do in high school, he could make that shot because he was never tired. He just doesn't understand, he's playing a lot harder, he's doing more things, he's just got to learn how to settle down and not take those shots, because they're bad shots and against a little bit better competition they're going to hurt you more."
"I'm putting up with Isaiah's shot selection just a little bit. He's got to learn, he's got to learn the good ones and the bad ones. I think its frustrating some of the guys, they're looking out there [saying] ‘Why's he getting to shoot that?' 'They've got to understand, he's got to figure it out. When he's got the ball in his hands and he's understanding what he's doing, he gets guys easy shots, he's able to get in the lane and put pressure [on the defense]. That's something that's a little bit of a learning process, I've got to work with him more and show him his shot selection, we're going to do that when we get back, and say ‘good one, bad one, good one, bad one.'
On Sterling Gibbs' performance: "I thought he played the best game in a while. From a defensive standpoint, he worked that kid [Tyler] Strange the whole night. We made a conscious effort to make him shoot, to make him the leading scorer because thats not what he wants to do, it wasn't in his DNA."
On increasing the tempo in the second half: "That's the way we're going to play best -- we can't play a half court game. When Brandon's [Mobley] not in the game, we don't have much of a post-up option, that's just the way we are right now until Angel [Delgado] gets a little bit more comfortable on the block -- thats not going to happen by December 1st."
"We've got to get easier buckets sometimes on the break. I wasn't very happy with our decision making on the break, that's something we've really got to work on."
What bringing home a Paradise Jam trophy would mean: "I think it's important. Stringing two, three games together, learning how to win a championship, you've got to do it, you've got to go through it. Making steps like that, is very important and getting to a championship game, I think it really helped us in Charleston [2010-11] where we lost a close one to Northwestern."