Where to begin?
Outside of a late five-minute rally that was sparked by desperation and a few forced turnovers on Seton Hall's behalf, the team with a lot more at stake did not play like it on Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center.
The Hall's interior defense was not up to par, inefficient offense created problems on the defensive end, and examples of selfish basketball were yet again on display. As a result, Marquette picked up their first road win of the season and halted a six-game slide without their leading scorer, Matt Carlino.
While the preceding descriptors are accurate representations of what transpired in Newark, we've seen all of them at different times this season for seemingly different reasons. Once thought to be solely a result of less-than-stellar game planning on behalf of the Seton Hall coaching staff, it appears that the individual-centric basketball that has reared its head time after time has at least some of its roots in the chemistry and morale of the team.
More on that below.
This team has significant issues that need fixing behind closed doors. Apparently the me-first offense that we've seen on and off for the better part of a month was the tip of the iceberg and the Marquette game was played on April 14th, 1912. If you don't get the not-so-subtle and probably inaccurate analogy, we're talking Titanic, people. The good news for this sinking Pirate ship? There is plenty of time to salvage things, but Seton Hall has really penned themselves into a corner.
The freshmen are struggling, but it's not completely unexpected. One conversation that occurred in the press room post-game was about how Seton Hall's greenhorns are "hitting a wall", as I've read several times on Twitter. Talented Big East coaches now have a large sample size to take a look at all of these kids and are game planning for them. Angel Delgado was a known commodity coming into league play and has limited post help with Chier Ajou and Rashed Anthony not playing at a Big East level yet. Further, a sixth man like Khadeen Carrington emerged over the first handful of games but has only reached double figures once in his last five games after doing so five out of the first six conference games.
It's not an excuse, but reality that these guys are logging the most significant minutes of their basketball lives and that has some effect. Perhaps a reason why Desi Rodriguez has been so efficient off the bench is because he hasn't seen as much time as Delgado, Carrington, and Whitehead. The question going forward is whether these guys can turn things around. The team won't have another extended break until after their tough upcoming four-game stretch.
There was a distinct difference between two teams off bad losses. Marquette came to play, as indicated by their 17-4 start, Seton Hall did not and the players chalked this up to a lack of energy. The entire Golden Eagle bench was so active for the entire game, that I doubt their seats ever warmed up. Seton Hall's bench looked like it was in a fog until the late run. With off-court issues brewing, this comes as no surprise on the Hall's behalf. As for Marquette, they take after their fiery and passionate leader and coach Steve Wojciechowski, who looks like he will have some scary teams once he gets a few recruiting classes in the fold.
Diagnosing the team's struggles early: "It's really hard when you're turning the ball over early in the game to get in a good offensive rhythm. We were just a little bit loose with the basketball where we had been pretty good for most of the year. We just could never get in a rhythm offensively."
On what is going wrong offensively: "We have to get back to trying to get back to the third and the fourth option offensively. We're getting stuck on the first option, I think everybody is trying to make a play off the first option, which is great, I love their aggressiveness, but they've got to realize everybody kind of knows what everybody is doing right now. We've just got to get to that second, third, fourth option.
"Most of our issues were early in the game. We just can't put up 22 points [in the first half] at home and come out and expect to win games. We really were sluggish offensively, we're not cutting as hard as we were, we're not pushing it as hard as we were. The end of the game I was proud of the way they came back, but the issues were at the beginning of the game."
"As bad as our defensive numbers are, and they're bad, they were still good enough to win the game. We gave up 57 points at home, you've got to score the basketball and thats just something we're not doing right now."
On if Isaiah Whitehead (3 pts, 1-11 fg, 6 rebs, 2 asts, 3 TOs) was forcing it: "I think everyone has to be patient with Isaiah. Players have to be patient, everybody has to be patient. He has a little rust in his game. I still think he's doing a lot of good stuff out there. It's really his first time going against the league, understanding different rotations, different size, and everyone just needs to give him a couple of games to get his flow back. When he does, he'll be right back in there."
When asked what the key is to getting back on track: "When we was winning, everybody looked good. Even the people who was scoring 6 or 7 points. Now, some people think 'OK if I score 15 I'll look good', but I mean c'mon who cares if you score 15 in a loss, you know? If we can just get back to playing -- it's easier said than done, coach harps upon it all the time, all the time, but it goes in one ear and out the other. We have to just continue to try and get better, that's all."
On defensive intensity impacting their interior defense: "Naturally everybody picks up defensively when they score, which it should be the other way around. Whenever we can get stops and get out on the break and get easy buckets we can get ourselves going, but when we're not playing well offensively that gets stuck in our head like ‘Oh man I just missed a shot' then it affects us defensively. Give all the credit to Marquette, they just wanted it more, they just outplayed us, point blank."
For several more candid quotes from Brandon, read my story here.
On the difference between torching Marquette's zone and struggling against their man defense: "I don't think there's a real difference, I think it was just a matter of us not being in a real rhythm today and we've got to get that back."