I'll just be up front in saying I did not expect this kind of performance from Seton Hall today. Our friends over at Rumble In The Garden asked me via email what I predicted the final score to be, and I said 66-55 St. John's, with a brief explanation.
I never make predictions, but I felt fairly confident a defensively-sound St. John's team was a bad match up for Seton Hall. I also thought Chris Obekpa had the advantage on Angel Delgado, despite a recent history of not having great games against the Hall. I didn't think Seton Hall's half court offense would be effective against the different looks for the Johnnie defense, and that Whitehead would be missed.
I was pretty wrong on most counts, and Seton Hall won as a result. Here's more:
St. John's didn't get their fast break going. This is how I thought the Red Storm would jump on Seton Hall early and build up a lead. Their first points in transition came 7:30 into the game, and Kevin Willard said post-game he could only recall two easy transition buckets for St. John's. This starts with Seton Hall's offense only turning it over nine times on the day, for the most part taking good shots, and not allowing St. John's to activate their strength.
I wrote my post-game piece mostly about the guards, but Angel Delgado and Brandon Mobley showed up today too. The pair of forwards outmatched St. John's Chris Obekpa at center and 6-foot-6 Sir`Dominic Pointer at the four and joined Gibbs, Sina, and Carrington in double figures. Delgado (13 pts, 12 rebs) and Mobley (13 pts, 10 rebs) held Pointer (4 pts, 7 rebs) to ordinary numbers days after Kevin Willard said how important the do-everything forward is for the Johnnies. Obekpa (7 pts, 5 rebs, 5 blks) wasn't bad, but Delgado had the upper hand.
One thing I've noticed is how sound Angel has been at distributing after most of his numerous rebounds. He doesn't make many mistakes and usually finds his guards within seconds, letting Seton Hall get into their offense earlier in the shot clock.
I've yet to check my DVR copy of this game, but Seton Hall exceeded expectations in their half court offense. It helps when you're able to push the tempo in transition and get much-needed production from Carrington and Sina. Mobley and Delgado also provided double digit point totals, completing the balanced scoring look we've seen from Seton Hall for a lot of this season. Five guys in double figures including a freshman off the bench.
How about the atmosphere today? Official attendance was at 9,183, but I don't think the actual was that far off. Even the Seton Hall student section showed up while on winter break. The crowd was probably quiet due to nerves early on, but the St. John's lead also played a part. The crowd really started to get loud during a few clutch Sterling Gibbs plays in the first half, but they really got into it during the 13-4 first half run and stayed that way.
St. John's had their fair share of fans, but Villanova will have much more on Saturday. Their fans buying early tickets is probably why the game sold out around a week and half ago. For those wondering, the decision to raise the curtains is made if tickets sell out two weeks to a month before the game.
On Khadeen Carrington: "I thought Khadeen played the best he's played all year. His numbers won't show it, but I thought he played terrifically."
On Brandon Mobley and Angel Delgado: "Brandon must have been refreshed because he played a terrific game. That is what Angel gives us every games, 13 points, 12 rebounds, that is what the kid does. Both of them played well and I thought more importantly, four assists and one turnover between them."
The bench's contribution: "I also though Rashed Anthony did a really good job coming in and giving us a really solid seven minutes. Same thing with Desi [Rodriguez], he came in during the first half and gave us a spark. He was active and gave us some energy."
On Sterling Gibbs' overall play: "Sterling is playing at a level I envisioned him playing at all the time. Sterling worked as hard as anybody this summer, he has worked hard all year long, and he receiving what he worked for. He is working extremely hard and is getting rewarded by playing very well."
Clarifying on when he (Gibbs) had spoke to D`Angelo Harrison prior to the game: "He sent me a message, this was in the summer. The first day the schedule came out, he sent me a message saying ‘I can't wait to play you guys, and have y'all take that 'L' on New Year's Eve.' That didn't really sit so well with me, but at the same time I don't really talk back to D`Angelo too much, just because the fact that I'd be feeding into what he's saying. I just let it sit, but I always remembered it [...] Without a doubt, they (his teammates) definitely saw it (the message)."
When it was suggested his 25 pts, 8 asts, 0 turnover statline was perfect: "It would have been perfect if there were two more assists, I guess. [laughs]"
On Jaren Sina's role in the win: "It's big time when Jaren's hitting shots. He's one of the biggest factors in us playing well. When Jaren plays well, we play pretty well as a team. He brings that extra dimension, he brings that extra scoring and stability at point guard. When he plays well, we're such a better team, and he played well tonight."
On turning his cold-shooting around: "Credit to Coach Willard, he kept telling me keep shooting, keep your confidence high and I think in a game like this, that's something we really needed."