*Tyler R. Tynes covers college basketball for SBNation.com. He is not a Seton Hall expert and is filling in for Chris McManus because he had to get a haircut or some junk. He is probably wrong about all of this because he's seen Seton Hall play maybe 10 times this season. He can be reached on twitter @TylerRickyTynes, email by TylerRickyTynes@Gmail.com and will be hanging around in the comments*
Well that was fun.
The Seton Hall Pirates reemerged as a Big East contender with a win over a KenPom Top-20 team in Xavier. But there were several things that developed over the entirety of the contest, some which are important as March begins to approach.
From an outsider's perspective, the Hall has an opportunity to make some real noise in both postseason tournaments, Big East and March Madness, but depending on the way they perform, specific personnel changes, lineup management, matchup, etc, the Pirates can make it farther than most may assume.
Here's three things that stuck out during the Seton Hall game vs. Xavier and no, the referees being horrible isn't one because it's mutually agreed upon that 6 technical fouls is absolutely absurd.
Isaiah Whitehead is the Holy One
Leave all "scared to call him the anointed one" stuff somewhere else, or give it to your girlfriend if she likes bad gifts, Whitehead is the real deal and he's the immediate deal breaker for the Pirates in big game situations next to Sterling Gibbs, the Hall's star over the last 10 games.
How about Isaiah Whitehead eh? https://t.co/5qwMtvuA1F— Tyler R. Tynes (@TylerRickyTynes) January 31, 2015
Kid dropped 19 points on nine shots, three triples and eight buckets at the line. It was Christmas in January and Whitehead is definitely a part of the big picture. The Hall isn't going anywhere if he's not healthy and his motor, his progression and more change the outlook for the Pirates.
Offensively, he gives Gibbs and Khadeen Carrington another deadly option off of dribble drive penetration moves where they draw multiple defenders and have a perimeter threat ready on the weak or strong side when they kick the ball out, especially with Jaren Sina and Brandon Mobley usually being worse options from deep.
Yes, he missed nine games. Yes, he had four fouls. Yes, he is the immediate difference maker on offense when it comes to this team if Gibbs wants to go 0-for-7 to start the game. If the Hall wants to be successful by the end of tis season, they need more than one consistent, legitimate, scoring option.
Furthermore, the load can't immediately be given to Carrington. When you play a team as tough defensively as Xavier, and he goes 2-for-9 and only gets points in transition, that can't be the answer against tougher teams outside of the Big East.
Pirates Need to Desperately Stop Fouling
Say whatever you want, but Seton Hall had fouled Xavier so much that they were in the bonus by the 10 minute mark in the first half and 12 minute mark in the second half. The best teams in the country, every season, find a way to be rigid defensively without fouling. Obviously it's a tough task with increased strictness around the rules and hand checking and refs being as strict as a nun at a catholic school mixer, we get it.
However, there needs to be a change. A team just can't sit in the bonus for 12 freaking minutes. Eventually, a team is going to run out of players. And eventually it's going to be 5 vs. 0. Okay. That's an exaggeration. You get the point. Fouling is going to happen in college basketball these days. But there needs to be more of an intensity on teaching players how to defend and move their feet without fouling.
And with a young team, there usually has to be a lot of teaching done. My idea is that when the Hall is full strength, they will continue to get better with each game.
Also: when a team fouls you so much that you arena the bonus, it would probably help if you made your free throws because you probably wouldn't be sitting in a close game for 40 minutes ya'dig?
Desi Rodriguez is a Young Savant
Seven shots. 16 points. Six rebounds. Two steals. Runs the floor like a deer. Great around the rim. Absorbs contact well. Nose for the ball when it comes to rebounding. Eats glass. Eats glass. Eats. Glass. Oh and dunks. He does those well too.
The starters might be set for the Pirates in the front court but 16.5 minutes a game on average seems little too low for Rodriguez. As Whitehead gets adapted to the system again in small increments due to his injury, Rodriguez should be on the floor with him. Their level of chemistry is an interesting factor and can do some damage mid-game when experimenting with different lineups.
There is some serious depth that the Pirates can keep playing with during the last stretch of their games in conference play. It might turn into one of their biggest advantages over teams when the postseason comes around.