Amid 2-0 start, Kevin Willard is still displeased with Seton Hall's turnovers as Pirates head to Charleston Classic. (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)
A handful of takeaways and nuggets of note from Seton Hall's 69-59 victory over Wagner at Walsh Gymnasium Sunday afternoon, which moved the Pirates to 2-0 on the young season:
- Turnovers are still a concern.
Kevin Willard lamented his team's issues with holding on to the ball, as Seton Hall committed 23 miscues against Wagner less than 48 hours after turning it over 20 times against Dartmouth. "I thought we got a little casual with the basketball," he groused. "They're taking away our chances of going on runs, and it's something we really have to work on."
- The Pirates may have found themselves a new glue guy.
Ismael Sanogo has had an impressive start to his sophomore season, amassing 15 points and 19 rebounds in Seton Hall's first two contests after playing sparingly as a freshman. Despite scoring just six points, his 11 boards were a game-high that received considerable praise from his coach. "He's become extremely valuable in the fact that he can defend multiple positions," Willard said as he began describing Sanogo's effort. "He had 11 rebounds, 4-of-4 from the (free throw) line, three assists, two blocks, and a steal. It's a pretty good line for a guy that didn't play last year."
"He's going to try to become the best defender in the Big East," Willard added. "The way he's gone about it so far, he's on a good pace to do that. He's really bought into the mentality of what he's going to be, and that's one of the best defenders."
- Isaiah Whitehead is still learning the nuances of the point guard spot.
The sophomore from Brooklyn led all scorers with 18 points and secured three assists in the process, but three late turnovers spoiled what would have been an otherwise flawless afternoon. Nonetheless, Willard has yet to be critical of his newly minted floor general. "Patience," he stated when asked what the biggest key to Whitehead's transition would be. "He's got to learn when to go and when not to go, and that's part of the growing process with him."
- Business as usual for Angel Delgado.
The reigning Big East Freshman of the Year posted his first double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but not without a tense moment after going down hard early in the second half, favoring his right knee and needing to be helped off the floor. Initially unable to put any weight on his leg, Delgado returned two minutes later and picked up a turnaround jumper, showing no ill effects of what he attributed his departure to as "tendinitis, like every big man has." In fact, the topic of conversation after the game was not whether he was 100 percent, but rather how he could become more involved in the Pirates' offense. "He's a difference maker," Willard simply admitted. "He plays hard, he plays aggressive. We've got to start looking for him without calling something for him."
- Wagner may have gone 0-2 this weekend, but are a team on the rise.
The Seahawks fought for 40 minutes against St. John's Friday evening before holding their own with Seton Hall for the bulk of the afternoon on Sunday, encouraging signs for a squad with mounds of upside that should be a factor in the Northeast Conference once league play begins in January. "We showed some energy and toughness," head coach Bashir Mason told Cormac Gordon of the Staten Island Advance in the wake of Sunday's defeat. "That defense and rebounding that I saw reminded me a lot of the Wagner play that was missing last year."
Nuggets of Note:
- Desi Rodriguez had perhaps the most underrated stat line in Sunday's box score, contributing 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Corey Henson, Wagner's sophomore point guard tasked with defending Whitehead, paced the Seahawks with 17 points while Dwaun Anderson added 11 of his own.
- The Pirates managed to hold on for their second win despite making only five field goals in the second half after heading into the locker room with a 42-26 lead at the intermission, buoyed by Rodriguez's three-pointer in the right corner as the buzzer sounded.
- Kevin Willard admitted that freshman wing Veer Singh is still nursing an injured wrist, and that the condition may be worse than initially suspected. "If it doesn't start feeling better, he'll be shut down," he said, not wanting to take any chances with the player many expected would be Seton Hall's X-factor this season.