The last 48 hours and change have been a whirlwind that has set its sight on Seton Hall's South Orange, New Jersey campus.
Opening tremors were felt five days ago when the Hall's senior forward Brandon Mobley let the cat out of the bag about the fractures present in the locker room just 10 feet to his left in the team's media lounge at Prudential Center in Newark. Mobley shouldn't be blamed for getting the ball of negativity rolling, he was just speaking from experience that we now know is accurate, but it appears that he just got out in front of the avalanche of turmoil that was to come.
The internal feuds within Seton Hall's locker room were followed up by a tumultuous loss to Georgetown on Tuesday night that included a near fight between freshman Isaiah Whitehead and junior Sterling Gibbs during a second half media timeout. Making matters worse, there are varying accounts of further friction between the two guards post-game, one of which includes sophomore Jaren Sina, who abruptly opted to transfer the following morning, citing an "untenable" locker room.
No kidding, Jaren.
While Mobley and now Sina have been quite clear with their actions in recent days regarding their team's morale, head coach Kevin Willard, at least on the exterior, is looking ahead and not confronting the elephant in the room. The fifth-year skipper in charge of Seton Hall's ship said post-Georgetown that Mobley's comments had not come out as intended and were actually meant to be positive.
"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," claimed Willard on Tuesday night. "He didn't mean it the way it came out, but he's got to learn, it's a good learning tool for him."
Coupled with the news that one of Seton Hall's starters, alleged leaders, and someone who was in some capacity calling offensive sets would decide to transfer some time within the next 12 hours and I'm not buying what Willard was selling.
Although Hall players Angel Delgado, Brandon Mobley, and Isaiah Whitehead declared their allegiance to their school on Wednesday via Twitter (Whitehead has since deleted all his tweets), strong rumors of what exactly went down post-Georgetown have spread like wildfire amongst fans, media, and onlookers within the college basketball community.
With a chance to get out ahead of an oncoming media mess not too dissimilar to how Brandon Mobley did a few days prior and be upfront and frank, Kevin Willard declined to comment on his team's chemistry issues after falling to the Hoyas.
Fair enough, there was a lot to digest at the time and Willard just wanted to talk basketball.
Faced with another opportunity to set the record straight on Thursday morning's Big East media call after losing Jaren Sina, Willard spoke highly of his departed guard and yet again passed up the opportunity to get in touch with the media and more importantly the fans that are demanding answers.
"Right now, we're just trying to get back to playing good basketball," Willard said when posed with a question about the team's general mood. "That has been everyone's focus. We've had a rough stretch over the last week and a half two weeks, just playing. We've been practicing really well, we've been doing some good things we just haven't played well on the court and that's something we're trying to get our focus back onto."
This despite a source telling me that the rift between Gibbs and Whitehead in part originated from a recent practice that was not addressed properly.
Confronted with another question citing the team's mood, Willard then explained how he was pleased about how his players are focusing on Saturday's road game at Providence and even gave a positive depiction of the team's morale at the moment just days after saying they were "dejected" post-Georgetown.
"The mood and attitude of the team is pretty good, everyone is just frustrated that they're losing. When you lose for the first time as a group, it gets tough. But I've been really happy with some of the guys battling back and coming back and getting ready to focus on this three-game stretch."
It would take a real feat of coaching to convert a team from feeling "dejected" to "pretty good" after losing another game in which two starters nearly came to blows, another transferred immediately after, and yet to be determined events transpired post-game. Not to mention from a more macro-level Seton Hall has dropped three in a row, 7 of 10 and is now on the outside of the NCAA tournament field after reaching as high as a projected five-seed a month ago.
Willard was then more directly asked by The Setonian's David Heim about what type of message Sina's transfer sends to the public and the fan base.
"I don't know. I cant speak for the fan base and the public," said Willard before gushing about his departed player. "We wish Jaren the ultimate best, he's a terrific young man. I enjoyed coaching him every second, he was a great representation [of Seton Hall], he's going to find success wherever he goes. That's the most important thing here. We'd love to still have Jaren on the team, but most importantly I'm excited for Jaren that he's going to get an opportunity somewhere where hes going to play basketball and going to have a great education. He's nothing but the best and I love the kid to death, that's the only thing I have to say about that."
That's the only thing he had to say. With droves of fans chomping at the bit and looking for answers to an apparent post-game event that saw a player leave the team the next day, it more or less amounted to a no comment.
With Deadspin recently catching on to this developing soap opera and looking for tips, this appears to be a ticking time bomb with someone other than Seton Hall's head coach at the steering wheel. Willard's open-ended approach that has provided little-to-no real answers and has allowed countless rumors to fester regarding what exactly has transpired is pretty far from proactive and has left the program prone for someone else to get out in front of the recent events.
Until then, or unless the program goes temporarily dark and starts to win starting on Saturday against a game Providence team (and even this wouldn't adequately address the more damning scenarios that I've heard), I get the eerie feeling that some type of bombshell is about to drop right on top of the elephant in the room.