Monday, March 5, 2018

Kevin Willard quote book: Big East conference call

On Myles Powell being Big East's Most Improved Player, Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez's second team all-Big East selections, and Seton Hall's Big East Tournament quarterfinal matchup against Butler:
"I'm really proud and happy for Myles. He's put in a tremendous amount of hard work in his body for the last two years, and he's really worked hard on his game to become more than just a great shooter. He's really worked on his passing, his driving, so for the coaches to recognize him, I think it's great, because he's really worked hard."

"Obviously with Angel and Desi, two guys that have really been the backbone for what we've done, so I'm happy that they got recognized for all the hard work that they put in, and obviously for Butler -- we just played them, we just played each other -- so obviously when you go up against Kelan Martin, we're going to have to try to figure out some way to do a little better job, because he was just dominant the other night. He played great, he played like he's played all year long, just absolutely great. It's going to be another tough test, but we're obviously looking forward to being back in the Big East Tournament."

On Myles Powell's maturity and being able to impact games without scoring:
"I think some of his cold shooting is just the fact that I think everyone really understands, especially since Desi hasn't been out there, he's a guy that could really change the game quickly with his shooting, and I think Myles has done a great job of understanding that guys are running at him. He's doing a good job spacing the court, and I think he's really maturing in the fact that he knows he can impact the game by more than just shooting."

On what the Big East needs to prove after the Big Ten Tournament was just held at Madison Square Garden, and with the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at Barclays Center:
"I don't think we have to show anything. We're established. This is almost like a tradition now, the Big East Tournament in New York. I've got the same people calling me, asking me for tickets for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We're part of New York, the Garden has been phenomenal to us, and just because other leagues come in and play, it doesn't really affect us all that much. It really doesn't have an effect on how great the Big East Tournament is and how much history there is in New York and Madison Square Garden, and the Big East Tournament. I really don't think about it at all, about the other conferences coming in. I think we're established, we're proven, and we're going to keep rolling."

On Xavier's J.P. Macura and what makes him a polarizing figure:
"I just think it's the way he plays. I love the kid, I think he's phenomenal. He plays with a reckless abandon that it's almost like an old-school-type basketball, he's always diving on the floor, he's taking charges, he's extremely smart, so the coaches and players understand. I think fans sometimes see him just getting in someone's face or something like that, but as coaches and players, we see all the little things he does for Xavier, and there are so many throughout a game -- whether it's a big offensive tip-in, whether it's just a good extra pass up the floor -- he's a difference-maker by far. He just -- I think the reason why -- obviously, Chris (Mack) has done a phenomenal job, but he's just one of those types of players that just wins you games. The best way I can say it is J.P.'s a winner, and it's really been an honor to watch him and compete against him, because every time we play him, I walk off the floor and I shake my head and say, 'man, I'd love to have that kid on my team.'"

On Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo and their availability for Thursday:
"They both did treatment yesterday, they're both going through a light practice today -- the other guys are practicing, they'll go through some light stuff -- and then we'll see how they are tomorrow."

On Butler's Kamar Baldwin:
"Oh, man. I think he's done a phenomenal job from going a guy that could really score, from a guy that -- when we play against him, you really see a kid that's really starting to understand everyone that's on the floor around him. He just seems to make the right plays and get the right guys the right shots at the right time. That's what I've been most impressed with in Kamar, in that he's not just playing the position, he's making the right reads; and defensively, he's really working so hard to make your guard play. I think his maturity's been phenomenal."

On how valuable Madison Square Garden is and if other conferences may look to play their postseason tournaments there:
"I don't know. Again, I know it's our home and I don't know what other conferences are going to do. It's obviously the Garden, it's also the New York market. It's one of those things that -- it's New York City, it's the biggest city and some of the best sports fans and best sports coverage there is, so I think the fact that you combine that with the world's greatest arena, there's definitely some unbelievable value there."

On playing Butler in a Big East Tournament setting:
"All that stuff, to be honest with you -- I know it's fun to write about -- but as coaches and as players, it's irrelevant. We're going up against -- you have to prepare for Butler. It doesn't matter what they've done in the past. You have to prepare for what they are, and they're a tremendous team. We're going to have to make some adjustments from the way we played them the other night, and they're going to have to make some adjustments. Coaches and teams just don't think about it that way. It's the next game, the next play, and you've got to step up and be ready to play."

On contributions from Seton Hall's bench in last several games:
"Obviously, Mike Nzei's done that his whole career. He's one of the most dependable guys that I've ever coached. You always know what you're getting with Mike, and for the two young guys, Sandro, Eron, and Myles Cale, I think they've done a phenomenal job of really picking up the intensity on the defensive end. They've given us a huge boost, especially on the defensive end and rebounding -- Myles Cale made two great passes the other night, had a huge jump shot, and I think Sandro's really picked up his rebounding, his energy on the defensive end. He's given us a real presence, so all those guys have really stepped up their game for us, and they've really been a big reason why we've won four out of five."

On the tradition of Seton Hall players signing their shoes and giving them to young fans, and how it started:
"It started their sophomore year, when a couple of kids in the tunnel asked for the guys' shoes and if they could sign them, and it was all younger kids. And the guys that came back in the locker room, they had no shoes on, and I was kind of looking at them like, where'd your shoes go? And they said all the young kids wanted them and 'Coach, we gotta give our shoes to the young kids,' I said, 'oh, okay, I guess so.' It just kind of became a tradition where I think our kids -- my guys really appreciate and understand what it's like to be a role model and to have younger kids looking up to them. I think they really liked it, but at the same time, they really started taking it as a responsibility to make sure they took the time and talked to these kids, and not just blow them off, and make sure they passed down the tradition of being a good person. It messes up the meeting afterwards and it messes up team meetings, but I think it's great, the fact that they take the time and they understand the impact that they can have with someone young. It just shows what great kids they are."

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