Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kevin Willard quote book: Saint Peter's

*All quotes courtesy of Jason Guerette, who handled all our Seton Hall coverage Tuesday*

On how Seton Hall handled what could have been considered a trap game:
"I loved the way we came out and played defensively. I thought we came out -- we talked about taking away (Nick) Griffin and making it hard for him to get shots, and making the other guys shoot. I thought we came out -- again, really the first ten minutes of the game defensively, I thought we played terrific."

On extending Saint Peter's away from the basket:
"Just the way John (Dunne) plays, he's got one of the slowest tempos and they run their offense so well. we played a little bit of zone at the beginning of the game just to try to kind of get them out of rhythm. If you let them get in a rhythm, they're going to make shots, which they did in the second half. Again, we just talked about coming out with the same intensity that we had with VCU come out in this game, and I thought for the most part, defensively, we did a good job."

On whether playing at Walsh Gymnasium affected Seton Hall offensively:
"Every basketball court is the same. College and NBA are the same, it's just the lanes are a little narrower."

On Angel Delgado moving into third place on Seton Hall's all-time rebound list:
"He's only third? No one's ever going to catch Walter Dukes. Again, it just shows you more the workhorse he's been, how much intensity he's played with, how much he's brought it every game, because you can't get those numbers if you don't bring it every game."

On getting caught up in Seton Hall's No. 15 ranking:
"We've embraced it. I think you have to. You respect it and you understand how you got there, and you just make sure you don't want to lose it."

On leaving Angel Delgado in late in the second half:
"He understands exactly what to do and how to do it. If he got the ball deep, he was going to throw it up, and if we were on defense, we were going to play a zone and we were going to keep it back and everyone was going to try to box out -- he's going to get his rebound. I learned this a long time ago from Coach Pitino: When you have seniors who are going to have future careers in the pros, then you'd better take care of their stats. I'm always aware of where my guys are stat-wise, and I make sure I get what I think they need to get."

On underclassmen getting significant minutes Tuesday night:
"Yeah, I like the way the young guys are playing. I think they're getting better. Again, the schedule's been tough for the freshmen just because of the grind. We haven't played many games where I can let them go out there and make mistakes without it being catastrophic. Tonight's nice because they can make a mistake and not feel like they've changed the tone of the game. They can go out there and just play, and again, I thought the way Myles Cale's playing, I like the way Sandro (Mamukelashvili) is playing, he's starting to get more comfortable. The more time they get, the better off they're going to do when the Big East comes along."

On playing New Jersey schools:
"It's -- again, the good thing about having a senior group is they understand how good the local schools are. They all play against each other in the summer, they all either come here and play in the gym or we go someplace to play, so they all know each other, they all respect each other. It's the great thing about having a veteran team, and it's tough because some of the younger kids, they don't understand college basketball yet. They don't understand that anybody can beat anybody on any given night if you don't bring it, and the seniors have done a phenomenal job with the younger kids, getting them to understand that the local schools -- it's not a Super Bowl game for them at all, but it's a bigger game, a chance to kind of knock us off, so our older guys have done a really good job of that, and obviously we have a huge one on Saturday."

On what to expect from traveling to Rutgers:
"I love the RAC just because you can play in there and there's 3,000 people who can be there for a game -- I think it seats 8,000 -- and it's loud, it's just the way the building is built. It's right on top of you, the fans are right on top of you. I think it's great for New Jersey basketball, especially college basketball seeing they're good, we're good, and it's a big game."

On playing at Walsh Gymnasium:
"I'm not a big fan of playing here. I told this to Gary Cohen the other night, this was my bright idea about doing this and thinking -- the problem is we got very comfortable playing at the Prudential Center. We don't practice in Walsh, we don't shoot around in Walsh, and we've become very comfortable. And sometimes when you bring schools that are used to playing in small gyms, they're more comfortable in this gym than they are at the Prudential Center. We're comfortable in the Prudential Center, we're not very comfortable, we've never shot well here from behind the arc for as long as I could remember, and we didn't shoot well tonight, I don't think."

On how Rutgers defended Seton Hall in the paint last season:
"I haven't watched it yet. I've watched one game. That's my homework tonight."

On how far Rutgers has come:
"I think Steve (Pikiell) has done an unbelievable job of implementing his style of play: A tough, hard-nosed, defensive -- when they shoot it, it almost looks like they have guys coming off the bench to offensive rebound -- they have two phenomenal guards in (Corey) Sanders and (Geo) Baker, and I'm as big a fan of (Deshawn) Freeman as probably anybody. I just love the way he plays, it reminds me of the way Mike (Nzei) and Ish (Sanogo) play: Hard-nosed, tough, can play and defend all positions. I think Steve's done a phenomenal job."

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