Friday, December 23, 2016

Kevin Willard quotebook: Rutgers postgame

On what turned in Seton Hall's favor after halftime:
"You know what, we went into halftime and kind of...this team does a good job listening to me from a defensive standpoint, they understand what we want to do, they practice it, they execute it extremely well. And then for some reason when it comes to the offensive end, they kind of zone me out a little bit, thinking they're just going to be able to do their thing. We showed them and we showed their numbers, we showed their stats and I told them how good of a defensive team Rutgers has become and how good of a job Steve (Pikiell) is doing. It was just a matter of them, it was kind of like South Carolina. We went into halftime like, 'Okay, you guys tried your way, now you've got to try my way.' And Angel (Delgado) came out, made good moves, we got on the break a little bit and I think that kind of softened it up."

On a similar feel to his first games against Rutgers:
"I've been asked this question, I think this is my eleventh game. It was much different when they were in the league. There was a hatred, a much different hatred. When you're in conference, those wins and losses go a long way. Pat Hobbs (Rutgers' athletic director) hired me here, I'm very good friends with Steve, I'm a big fan of his. I want them to do well for the state. It's much different now. I don't see them again for another year. I still want to win the game and it's still important to me, but I think it's changed because they're not in our conference. It's such a different feel from when we were in the conference together."

On three early second-half layups swinging the momentum:
"I think just the fact that we saw the ball go in the hoop. I don't know how long we went in the first half without scoring, but we went a long time. I was proud of our guys that even though we weren't scoring, we kept defending. I knew it was just a matter of time until we made some shots."

On whether this game is good for Seton Hall:
"It's great that Monmouth and Princeton are good. Those are two great basketball teams. I watched that game the other night, and that was a great atmosphere. I think the more teams that are good in this area, the more local kids are going to sit there and say 'this is a really good place to play basketball.' As crazy as it sounds, I want St. John's to do good. I just think the more the local teams are good, the more buzz we'll get, the more attention we'll get. You get a crowd like this, it can only be beneficial for all the teams involved."

On Ismael Sanogo:
"You look at his stat line, he was 1-for-3, 1-for-4 from the free throw line, he had two assists, four turnovers; but then you see he had 16 rebounds, three steals, two blocks. If you ask anybody on our team who the most valuable player is, day in and day out, they'll say it's Ish. We game plan our defense around Ish, he's involved in everything we do defensively. He is going to make a lot of money in this game one day, because he can really change the game defensively."

On Rutgers and differences between last season and this season:
"It's night and day. I think Steve has done, I looked around the country the other day, I think Steve has done as good a job as anybody in the country. I think Pat Hobbs hired a phenomenal person for that university. They're much different too: Nigel Johnson sat out last year, we didn't play against Deshawn Freeman, C.J. Gettys wasn't there. Deshawn Freeman's a heck of a basketball player. They are different, and people better respect them in the Big Ten, or they're going to beat a lot of teams in the Big Ten."

On Madison Jones:
"I probably screwed up the first half a little bit, I'll take a little blame for it even though we did just dribble in one spot for 19 seconds at a time. I tried to get Jevon (Thomas) in there early with the starters. Jevon hasn't really played with those guys all that much, he's been playing with Myles Powell and they've been really playing well together, and I think I broke our momentum a little bit early. I thought Madison played a really solid game, both offensively and defensively, he really played well. He's starting to get more confidence in his shot, which is good for us because it opens things up."

On high energy contributing to first-half jitters:
"They've played big games before. We play Villanova, we play Butler, we play Creighton, we play a lot of good teams. These guys have won a Big East championship in the Garden. They've been amped up before. I don't think they respected the job or respected how good of a defensive team that Rutgers is. I think that's the biggest difference and I think once they realize how good they were, they're going to have to run some offense and move the ball."

On Angel Delgado and taking over late:
"Even though he was struggling, I was glad that our guys kept throwing him the ball. They understand his importance. He also did a good job late of kicking it out. That's something he's got to do a better job of. He draws a lot of attention, I think he wanted to get himself going early and he missed some shots he doesn't usually miss. I think we had five offensive rebounds on one possession. It was just one of those things that he's become a very dominant post player, but he's also a very good passer. He's got to get it out sometimes, and he gets a little scoring-happy."

"If he missed his first...if he was 2-for-9 his first year, he would have been done. He would have been done defensively, he would have been done rebounding, and he's matured. He didn't get that upset, but for the most part, he kept in there, he kept rebounding. I thought he played really good pick-and-roll defense the whole time, so he's come a really long way emotionally."

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