If there were any lingering questions about potential feuds within Seton Hall's locker room going into last night's game against Georgetown, at least one was definitively answered during a second half media timeout.
First reported by Gary Phillips of The Setonian, a brewing divide between Seton Hall junior guard Sterling Gibbs and freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead came to a boiling point following a 17-4 Georgetown run that answered the Hall tying the game at 44 after trailing by 20 in the first half.
Kevin Willard's two star guards didn't throw any punches but had to be separated by associate head coach Shaheen Holloway during the under-12 media timeout in the second half. The event wasn't caught on camera by the Fox Sports 1 team and I missed it live, but Gibbs appeared to be staring Whitehead down following the timeout. I was able to independently confirm that the event happened as reported and that it stemmed from a prior practice.
The near fisticuffs comes days after a poor showing in a loss to Marquette in which senior forward Brandon Mobley called his teammates out for a lack of collective basketball. While I'm skeptical, Willard explained that Mobley's comments were meant to be more positive than interpreted.
"Brandon tried to say something the other day, believe it or not, he tried to say something that was positive and he kind of ran his mouth the wrong way, which sometimes players do. He didn't mean it the way it came out, but he's got to learn, it's a good learning tool for him."
It appeared that Seton Hall had turned a corner after rallying from a dismal 27-7 start against Georgetown last night that was even worse than Marquette's 17-4 opening run the Saturday prior, but the underlying issues reared their ugly head after the Hoyas went on their second half rampage.
Prior to closing the locker room last night for the first time this season, Willard stated how his team is trying to right the ship but is not responding well to adversity.
"I have a group of guys who all trying to do really good things and make plays, they're trying, its just that they're getting a little dejected right now. For the first time, they're struggling and going through it and they're not reacting the right way yet and that's something unfortunately they've got to learn. When things don't go your way, you can't let things get out of hand, we've let that happen twice now."
Willard refused to comment on any team chemistry issues last night, but was up front about the need to call upon the team's leaders going forward.
"I know who has to turn us around, I'll have conversations with them, but that's between me and the team."
When asked if the toughness needed to reverse course and win games down the stretch is present within his team, Willard backed his players with at the moment amounts to mostly blind faith.
"I do, again I have great confidence in these guys, I know it sounds crazy right now, I think this team is capable of great things."
For now, most Seton Hall fans probably agree with Willard in that his confidence sounds a little far-fetched in the midst of dropping six of their last eight games and three straight. With a trio of road games at Providence, Villanova and St. John's on the horizon, things can get a lot worse in South Orange unless Willard's team bands together.