Now seven games deep into a Isaiah Whitehead-less look for Seton Hall, the Pirates need him back more than ever.
Seton Hall's offense struggled in their 64-60 loss to DePaul last night and Sterling Gibbs was held to just eight points on 2 of 16 shooting that was chalked up to "just a bad night" by Kevin Willard. Khadeen Carrington produced again, this time scoring 12 in his first start, and Angel Delgado notched a career-best 19 points, but the Hall lacked the extra firepower on offense.
As a team, the Pirates scored just .85 points per possession, their lowest of the season outside of Georgia (an awful .68) and could have really used freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead to rack up some assists by distributing at an NBA-level.
"We miss him greatly, he's one of our best players," said Willard. "We were using him in the offense as much as anybody. We don't have anybody else right now that can take a load off the way he can. He'll be back, whether its next week or the week after, eventually he'll be back."
It sounds like Whitehead won't play until at least Xavier on the 31st unless he gets cleared by the team doctor for a stress fracture diagnosed on Christmas Eve. Willard said the doctor doesn't travel with the team, so Whitehead wouldn't be able to get cleared until after the pending two-game road trip to Butler and Marquette. I assume a huge curve ball would be getting cleared shortly before the Butler game, which seems unlikely.
"I'm done with possibilities, because he looks good but until he gets cleared by the doctor, our doctor doesn't travel with us... so i kind of gave you the answer. I think maybe after Xavier is probably the best because that'll be a full six weeks."
The most energetic I saw Brandon Mobley after the game was when he was asked if he misses Whitehead on the court.
"A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. I can't wait until he comes back."
In the meantime, this is a gut-check road trip for Seton Hall against a Butler team that took it to them at the Rock and a Marquette group that plays very hard. They started their Big East season well without Whitehead but have lost two crucial home games that were expected to be wins. I penciled in a 3-3 record at this point, but with wins over Butler and DePaul.
"I'm unbelievably disappointed to be 3-3 especially with two home games, but at the same time to be without one of our best players and to be 3-3, it's not a bad spot to be in," claimed Willard. "Eventually when we do get him back, I really believe when we get him back it's going to give us a boost we desperately need."
Willard on Whitehead after game at Butler: "He's not coming back for at least two more games - we have Marquette and Xavier - hopefully after Xavier we get him back. Then everyone is going to have to be real patient with him because he hasn't played in six weeks."