The Seton Hall men’s hoop team has found a home away from home. Former Knicks great, the Hall-of-Famer-turned-broadcaster Walt “Clyde” Frazier, refers to the building as the “Mecca of Basketball.” To most folks it is known as Madison Square Garden (the Garden for short).
The Pirates beat #22 Texas Tech, 89-79, on Thursday night at the Garden and are now 7-2 in the last nine games at the Mecca.
But Seton Hall continued their poor pattern of playing “to or down to” the level of competition in the first half of many early season games. Poor shooting and inconsistent defensive intensity in this game had the Hall down by three at halftime.
But the Hall did come back with sophomore Myles Powell and senior Desi Rodriguez leading the way. Rodriguez had a game-high 24 points while Powell shot 6-8 from the field scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half.
I believe that another contributing factor in the Pirates so-so performance in the first half of games is the play of Khadeen Carrington. He is one of the top players in the Big East Conference which is why Coach Kevin Willard has asked Khadeen to move to the point guard position, a request similar to the one he made two years ago to his then best player Isaiah Whitehead. As the team quarterback, Carrington is the leader on the court, sets the tempo, distributes the ball and matches up defensively with the other team’s best guard. He is more than capable of doing a fine job and he gained some experience in the role last year but now it is a full time role.
What I see so far from Khadeen at this stage is too much of a Mr. Nice Guy tone especially early in games. He is trying to get everyone involved in the offense, a pass here/a pass there, executing the half court at the expense of his own game. He needs to be aggressive with his penetrations, he needs to look for his own shots and he needs to make sure that big man Angel Delgado gets the ball down low on the blocks in order for him to get his own high percentage shots, at least eight of them in the first half of every game. I see the Pirates playing their best ball in an up-tempo flow attacking the basket and if they cannot get to the hoop they kick it out for three point jump shots.
For me Carrington and Delgado need to set the tone of intensity right from the get go off the opening tip. They are the catalysts for the Pirates and they need to shine early and often in games in order for them to be in the running to win the conference, the Big East Tournament and to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament in March.
This Sunday Seton Hall will have a true test as they travel to play the # 17 Louisville Cardinals on national television. The Pirates will have to come out and play strong basketball for a full forty minutes if they want to come out with a huge resume building win for selection Sunday.
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