Well, it wasn't always pretty offensively, but with some clutch three-point shooting and free throws, along with a game-winning bucket in overtime from Myles Powell, Seton Hall outlasted Providence 72-70 at Prudential Center on Wednesday night. I think I speak for all when I say that with the late tipoff (8:30), thank goodness it didn't get to a second overtime session. People have buses and trains to catch!
Anyway, on to the 5 Thoughts:
1. True Grit
At 4-6 n the Big East coming in and hovering on the NCAA tournament bubble by most projections, the Pirates do have chances to impress the committee. But, they also can't really afford a home stumble against a team they should beat like Providence. Seton Hall was woefully shorthanded due to an injury to defender extraordinaire Ish Sanogo and the departure of Jevon Thomas, and at the same time really needed this win.
So they gritted it out. Seton Hall found themselves down 15 in the first half, but sank some key shots to come back. Even so, once the game got closer, Providence seemed to have an answer each time the Pirates tried to surge ahead, playing with great energy the whole way to pester the Hall's key players. Case in point- Angel Delgado, who has been the rock all year long, had yet another double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds, but really had to work for everything he got. He (along with Madison Jones and Khadeen Carrington) played 40+ minutes in this one, digging deep and finding a way. Luckily for the Pirates, they got a big contribution from...
2. Powell Ranger
Providence head coach Ed Cooley heaped praise on Myles Powell after the game, saying that he thinks the freshman wing will become a "household name" in the Big East. Certainly nice to hear, and Powell showed off his well-rounded offensive game in this one, scoring 14 big points off the bench including the game-winner. Carrington had the ball in his hands but the Friars forced him to pass off.
Powell then drove, spun in the paint and hit a tough floater to win the game. It was one of several nice forays into the lane for him in the game, and although he's just a handful of games into his college career, it's hard not to be excited for his potential. Being multi-dimensional offensively is something that is very difficult to teach, and Willard seems to have a big find in Powell.
3. Khadeen's Back
There was a point just a couple weeks ago that Khadeen Carrington was struggling offensively. That spell seems to have passed- the junior had a really nice all-around game, and scored five huge points late in OT as part of a 21-point, 7-rebound, 5-assist night. He was confident in himself on offense and never seemed to panic out there, which is a sure sign that he's back to being himself. That happened not a moment too soon, as they'll need him to be that guy on the perimeter, especially with fresh bodies in short supply.
4. Weaknesses To Strengths
One of the reasons that Seton Hall has not seemed to have as good of an offense this season is a lack of two things- consistent three-point shooting, and good free throw shooting. The numbers on both fronts aren't rosy for the Pirates.
But they made 8-20 from deep and 12-14 from the line against the Friars, and several of those long balls were made at key times in the second half. Carrington made three of the threes, but Madison Jones also canned a couple open shots along with Powell. Not that the Pirates will all of a sudden look to space the floor and fire away, but being able to convert from there is key.
As for the charity stripe, the Pirates will be the first ones to admit they've left a lot of points at the line this year. And other than a miss by Desi Rodriguez with the game tied late in regulation, the Pirates converted there as well on Wednesday night Desi, by the way, shut off Kyron Cartwright and forced a shot clock violation on the ensuing defensive possession after the miss).
5. Garden Party
Seton Hall has fond memories of Madison Square Garden, the site of their next game against St. John's on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates have made the Garden their own, having won five straight games there over the last two seasons, including their big win over South Carolina in December.
However, all of those games have been close, and some have been downright heart-attack-inducing. Seton Hall can't rest on their laurels, as they face another game they really need to get. No word on whether or not they have Sanogo back for the contest, but even if they do, some more of that grit they showed Wednesday will certainly serve them well.