Thursday, October 27, 2016

Seton Hall media day quotebook: Delgado, Carrington, Rodriguez, Sanogo, Thomas

From Seton Hall's media day Tuesday, here is the second part of our quotes, as we spoke to each of the Pirates' four returning starters and incoming point guard Jevon Thomas, who is eligible to return to the court in December:

On a potential championship hangover:
"I can't say it was last year because it was still this year, but it's already in the past. Right now, I'm focused on getting another ring on my hand."

On getting stronger in offseason and potentially breaking out to be a household name:
"Of course. I've been working all summer on that, and I hope it works when I'm in the game too. That's all I did in the summer so I could be a guy who could do more on the court."

On improving his offense:
"That too, but I could never forget what I do best, and that's rebound. I'm going to play the hardest I can this year, because I really want to be the best on the court."

On who steps up to replace Isaiah Whitehead and Derrick Gordon:
"Everybody. Nobody wins the game with one person on the team, two people. Everybody's got to step up. It's not like we depend on Angel to score 20 today, it's not like that. I can score six today and if the team wins, I'm still the same as if I score 20. That's how I feel."

On potentially playing point guard and whether it suits his game:
"I think I could play either one, whatever he (coach Kevin Willard) wants me to do, I'll do it. Last year, I played the point a little bit but not as much because we had Isaiah, but this year I think I could step into that role and kind of get guys going, get myself involved also."

On a potential championship hangover:
"No, definitely not. Coach makes sure of that. It was great winning the Big East last year, but this year is a new year, We have goals that we need to accomplish, so there's not really any hangover from last year."

On more big games looming following his coming-out party in the Big East Tournament:
"I definitely see myself going for outings like that more this year. I think I need to step up more scoring-wise and getting guys involved more, and more just being an alpha dog, just being a leader on the team."

On possibly winning Big East Player of the Year honors:
"That's definitely a goal of mine. I think I can do it, I think I'm one of the more talented guys in the league. You've got to go out and play, and when you play, the focus should be (on) winning. If that comes out winning, then that's the main thing. You're not going to get it if you don't win. The focus is winning games."

On whether the Big East Tournament was the best basketball he's played:
"Yeah, definitely. I'm working towards that goal. I've had a few big games and I was also hot, but that's definitely what you should expect to see this season."

On whether people are sleeping on Seton Hall:
"I said it last year, the preseason polls are the preseason polls. Everybody still has to go out and play, so all that stuff doesn't really matter to us. It just adds fuel to the fire. Everybody still has to play. I think we're a great team, and we can show it this year."

On a potential championship hangover:
"We just want to get back to where we were last year. I definitely think we can do it again with our team that we've got this year. All we've got to do is just play hard, push each other and make each other better every day in practice."

On having an all-conference-caliber impact on offense:
"I have to. I've definitely got to step up my game, and I've got to push my team. I'm a junior now. I feel like I could lead this team really well, and it means just getting everyone better, not me worrying about myself, being selfish, getting my teammates the ball. I definitely think we could be a very good team, high-level team, just winning our road games and taking care of business."

On how he channels his intensity:
"I just feel like I'm getting older and I'm growing as a person. If I do what Coach tells me to do, it's all going to fall into place. I'm definitely a high-intensity player. I love it, it gets our opponents intimidated and I just like going hard, that's just me. I bring energy to the team. If I don't bring that energy, I feel like I've failed my team, so I've just got to bring the energy every day and push my team to do better."

On SportsCenter Top 10 plays:
"This season, I'm shooting to get about five. I had one my freshman year and two my sophomore year, so definitely five."

On how much big-game atmospheres help Seton Hall:
"Isaiah was definitely a big piece and we lost him, but we don't want to look at it like that. We've still got to move forward without him, so we're going to go as far as our work ethic takes us. Each of us has to make each other better, and it starts with our juniors this year and leading the younger guys, getting them to where they've got to be at on the court, just making everyone better, and us just being level-headed. Last year was last year and we want to think it's a big accomplishment, but this year, we've got to take care of business."

On whether people may be sleeping on Seton Hall:
"That happens every year. It happened when Isaiah was here last year, they slept on us and we won the Big East championship. That motivated us a lot, so it's definitely a big help for us. When everybody doubts us, we just love it. It makes us want to prove people wrong."

On non-conference schedule and what he's looking most forward to:
"I'm looking forward to Orlando more, just to play Florida and getting a chance to play Gonzaga again. We'd like to get revenge on them, so I'm definitely looking forward to Orlando more."

On Seton Hall's mindset this season:

"To do the same thing and make a deeper run into the NCAA Tournament."

On whether people may be sleeping on Seton Hall:
"Definitely, they're sleeping on us, and honestly, that's the way we like it so we could come up and surprise people."

On improving his defense:
"I've improved on that a lot, just working on getting stronger. I'm able to guard bigger players and working on my foot quickness so I could guard faster guards."

On NCAA rule changes affecting his game:
"Not me at all because I've never really three-quartered the post, that was the main rule change. I always used my quickness to get around the player."

On Myles Powell:
"Oh, he's progressed a lot. They say I'm the hardest worker, he may be the hardest worker on the team. He lost 45 pounds in the summer, that's incredible right there; plus he was up with me putting up shots, almost 1,000 a day. That's crazy."

"You should definitely expect a lot from him. Teams are not going to know what's coming, and even if they do, it's hard to prepare for a kid like that."

On what drives him:
"It just came from me. Being a kid, I was affected by Hurricane Katrina, and that had a huge impact on my life. We were, me and my family were homeless for a while and that caused me to grow up early, and I didn't want my family to go through anything like that, so it forced me to work hard to get where I want to be."

On Isaiah Whitehead:
"I've never met a person that approached the game so serious. He had a goal to go to the NBA and win, and he did it. And his approach, his energy and his vibe, he was just positive the whole year. I like how he prepped for games, how he prepped for practice, prepped for workouts, how he approached things. That gave me a different aspect. I've never really been around a pro. Coming in and seeing him after the freshman year that he had; and how he changed and evolved, that really helped me. It gave me a better understanding on how to handle things. Seeing how he dealt with Coach, Coach was on him nonstop. This year, Coach is on me nonstop. I saw how Isaiah responded to it, he had a great year, so this year I'm just taking everything in."

On Whitehead's success inspiring this year's team:
"Absolutely. He showed that it's possible. You see a lot of guys get drafted in your class, but you never really get a guy drafted that's right next to you, on the same team, from the same area. I've been playing against Isaiah since we were kids, so seeing that happen; coming from a program that a lot of people doubted, it's just helped us all and shown that we could do it."

On defense being his calling card:
"Absolutely. I think that's one of my strengths. I think I could come in and change the game defensively, add a little experience, a little passing, getting players involved. I just think that's my strength: Coming in, adding a little pressure and just being hard-nosed, like Isaiah."

On Derrick Gordon being a mentor:
"It helped a lot. I'm more of an on-ball defender, but just seeing Derrick and how he played the passing lanes, he was big on being verbal. I never really talked. I was more like a selfish defender, just played my position; but seeing Derrick come in and seeing him talk on the help side, telling a guy he's out of place on certain things, he was real big. He talked a lot and that helped me out a lot."

On his intangibles:
"I just bring the best out of players. I feel like that's my calling. Offensively, just keeping somebody ahead of the game, doing all the little things."

On rejoining the team in December:
"I see that as a gift. I need more reps. Right now, I'm not ready to play in November. I sat out for a lot of months, so I think that by December, I should be ready."

On coming back to the New York area and feeling he has more to prove:
"I try not to play my game off that, trying to prove people wrong. I'm just going to come back home, where I'm more comfortable. Unfortunately I had to transfer, but I think I transferred for the better. It's going to help me out, but I don't think I've got to prove anything to people. Me coming to college and being here proved them wrong already."

On what to expect from him on the court:
"Just being a hard-nosed player, being tough, being a leader, vocal, helping others get better, being a second coach on the floor. That's what I really want to bring, just be able to be a second coach in game situations. Coach, in practice, would give me the freshmen and the players that didn't play last year, and it's helped me become a better point guard and helped them become better."

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