Mount St. Mary's was able to hang with Seton Hall for nine minutes, but that was about it as the Pirates easily dismantled their Northeast Conference foe 78-55 at Prudential Center on Tuesday night.
Note: There was a ton of talk about Rutgers during post-game interviews, but I've decided to hold off on those quotes until later this week.
Mount St. Mary's isn't a good team, but Seton Hall put the trap game narrative to rest quickly. As you'll see from some quotes lower on the page, we saw a focused, determined Pirate team tonight. They made sure to stick to their gameplan and didn't try to get fancy outside of widening the margin as much as possible.
Mount St. Mary's played right into Seton Hall's hands. Apparently it's the way the Mount plays, but putting a full court press on a three-guard Seton Hall for most of the game completely backfired for Jamion Christian. Willard and several of the players admitted that the composure of their team was suited for this type of approach and the scoreboard certainly showed it when the dogs were called off up 30 mid-way through the second half.
The talent differential made this game look completely different than Saturday. Seton Hall was able to get what they wanted as shown by the 52-22 advantage in the paint, a lot of which came from dribble penetration and scoring in transition as opposed to the conventional feeding of a forward. As such, a lot of the half court battles and chess match-like decisions that we saw against George Washington on Saturday were absent tonight. Seton Hall also didn't attempt a single three in the second half, which is an indicator of how this one went.
Khadeen Carrington is a very capable fourth guard. He played point guard during the last 8-10 minutes or so, gaining value experience, and rattled off 16 points on 8 of 8 shooting while tallying four boards, three assists, and three steals. We've seen Carrington's nasty crossover several times this season, but I believe he had only pulled off the backcourt pickpocket once thus far. He did it twice in 76 seconds against Mount St. Mary's with added bonuses for the dunks.
The depth on this team has and will pay dividends. Jaren Sina said post-game the biggest thing helping the young guys develop is how many minutes they are playing at this level. Not a lot of freshmen get to play this much unless they are on a depleted roster with plenty of available playing time. The increased exposure gives all of these guys added battle scars for when they face adversity and tough situations, kind of like George Washington. Rutgers, Wichita State, and beyond will be the proving grounds for the young talent to further take off the training wheels, to use Willard-speak.
"As we progress, my biggest thing is they need to continue to focus on getting better. They can't be happy with being 6-0, they have to really focus on continuing to improve in the areas that we need to improve."
Game plan: "We knew they were going to run a press, so our whole thing was break it and attack for lay ups, try to get to the free throw line. We didn't have that many offensive rebound opportunities, but I thought everyone was taking a lot of threes down in St. Thomas, but we also played two teams that played a zone."
"It was matter of we wanted to get the game, when you only have one day of prep and you're coming off a really tough sluggish game, I was willing to give them some easy buckets and some open threes early just to get our guys running and get their blood flowing and get the pace going [..] At home, I'll play that way all day long."
On bringing the team down to Earth before Rutgers: "I'll ground them tomorrow in practice. They'll understand what it's like to be grounded. I wasn't overly happy with our defense, we'll get back to basics tomorrow and Thursday, put a game gameplan in for Friday, hopefully have a great crowd when we play Saturday."
On Khadeen Carrington's 16-point night: "Khadeen played great. With all that he's been through, I was really excited for him. Khadeen, he's real athletic, he has crazy amounts of potential. Just to see him build his confidence, see his hard work ethic pay off, it was nice."
On the trap game narrative: "Coach told us that 1000 times, this game could be a trap game or we can use it to go into the Rutgers game, so we used it to really work on some things, really try to get those players like Khadeen and Ish [Sanogo] and Steph [Manga] to get some playing time and be able to show what they're made of. And I think the starters were able to rest a little bit which was really nice."
Is being undefeated surprising: "No, its not surprising. Not in a cocky way, but at the same time, the way that we've prepared and the way that we've worked hard throughout the preseason, we put ourselves in a position to be able to be undefeated at this point. It's not really a surprise, it's just what we have to keep it up."
On the win: "It's big for us, I think these are games that are important for the young guys especially to get those extra minutes, to get comfortable out there."
"I think today was great for a lot of us to kind of just let our bodies relax a little bit, take a little bit of a day off and let some younger guys get some more minutes."
Speaking on the chemistry added from the Paradise Jam: "One of the smartest things that Coach Willard did was have us go to the Paradise Jam. Obviously its big for us to win that tournament, but being together for a week long in the Virgin Islands, it helped build our chemistry and it was a great team bonding this for us."
On what his individual performance meant: "I was in a little slump, so this is kind of like a breakout game for me. Get some easy buckets, get some easy steals, get my teammates involved. It was a big game for me."
When jokingly asked if he was trying to break the rim with his two dunks: "Yeah, I tried to."