Sunday, March 4, 2018

Kevin Willard quote book: Butler

By Jaden Daly (@jadendaly) and Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

On motive behind Seton Hall's senior night ceremony:
"I just said on the radio, I think our fans were phenomenal. They got here early, they showed their unbelievable appreciation for four great seniors, and it was -- that's the best senior night I've ever been a part of, by far. Just -- not only the win was huge -- but just the emotions and the fans coming out and showing their appreciation, I just think that was very special."

On how much Seton Hall's seniors will be missed:
"It depends on who you ask. I will miss them dearly, but I think that's the great thing about what they've done here. They'll never be gone, I think that's the big thing. They're -- every recruit that we have that comes to watch us, those guys -- they always walk away and say, 'man, I can't believe how hard those guys work, I can't believe how much fun those guys have.' They've laid a great foundation for the guys sitting out, for the young guys. So even though their bodies won't be here, I think they've passed along what it takes to win at this level."

On Desi Rodriguez and why he was unavailable:
"As most of you guys know, I'm very stat-conscious. He told me -- he said, 'Coach, I'm playing tonight' this morning, and he worked out this morning, he looked okay. I watched him shoot this afternoon before the game, and I said, 'how much can you give me?' He said, 'I probably could give you about 5-10 minutes.' And I said, 'I love you, but that's just -- I'm not taking the risk of you either hurting your other foot, re-hurting your foot, and going 0-for-3, no points and killing what he's had, a terrific year offensively. I made the decision that I was not going to play him."

On why he checked Rodriguez in at the end of the game:
"So he could get a game played. I did the shuffle. I think Eddie (Corbett, the lead official) knew what I was doing, so he helped me out."

On Rodriguez's, and Ismael Sanogo's availability for Thursday's Big East Tournament quarterfinal:
"I think Desi should be back by Thursday. I think that's the other big thing with the win, we get an extra day. Ish -- I'm not as optimistic as Ish is -- but I don't count Ish out."

On similarities between this year's team and the 2015-16 Big East championship team:
"Well, the same four guys, to start. So I guess there's a lot of similarities. I'll leave it at that."

On Khadeen Carrington and the sacrifices he made for the program:
"His numbers haven't been phenomenal, but I've said it all along: I think he's had a great year. I think he's played at an extremely high level, I think one of the things -- one of the biggest adjustments that he had to make, and it wore him a little bit midway through the year -- was him having to guard the other team's point guard and being that guy that has to be in charge of the defense, and I think as he's gotten used to that, his game has started to kind of be at the level that we're all expecting."

On Myles Cale's performance this season:
"Myles Cale's going to be a phenomenal player. I just think he's -- him, Sandro (Mamukelashvili) -- I think the minutes they've gotten, the confidence that I have in them going forward, I think he's done a -- it's hard to be a freshman in this league, it really is. For him to get thrown in the last three games the way he has and for him to play the way he has, it just shows you what type of player he's going to be."

On playing Butler again in the Big East Tournament:
"It is weird, but it's better than playing someone like Creighton, to be honest with you. I mean that by -- we haven't seen Creighton since the seventh game, I think -- so from a scouting standpoint, the guys knowing what we're doing, we can really have four days kind of just working on us and understanding what we're going against, so I think for Butler, it helps; and for us, it helps."

On Michael Nzei's impact Saturday night:
"MIkey's been phenomenal. Mikey's played this way all year. His minutes got a little cut down at times just because I thought Ish, defensively, was really playing well, but Mike -- when I talk about this group, I always include Mike because he's been just as special, just as -- a kid that's going to graduate with a 4.0 in the business school here, and that ain't easy. He's been great all year."

On Carrington and Angel Delgado's performances in their Prudential Center finale:
"I just think it's who they are. It's what they've done their whole career here, it really is. I think -- I pulled out, I watched -- me and my wife sat on the couch last night and we watched one of their first freshman games, in a Big East game. It was almost comical to see them out there and to see where they started and where they are now, but they've played the same way all four years. They haven't changed, and I think they were going to do everything they could do tonight to make sure that we didn't lose the game."

On his postgame embrace of Carrington and Delgado:
"I hate to say this, I was actually more emotional. It was the hardest pregame talk I've ever had. I broke down -- I had to go back in my locker room and I looked in the mirror and said, 'you gotta get your (blank) together.' And when they went out, I thought I got my stuff together, and I was sitting on the halfcourt. I looked up and I started watching the video, and the next thing you know, Sha (assistant coach Shaheen Holloway) looked at me and he goes, 'What are you crying for?' I said, 'I know you're happy. I'm not very happy right now.' It's -- they're like my oldest sons, they really are. I've been with them six years, technically. When you recruit them, then they're with you, and I spend more time with them for eight months than I do my own family. I'm just -- and as you sit there and you have such a feeling of pride because -- again, you've watched them grow, you're proud of what they've accomplished, you're proud of the men they've become, you're proud of the decisions they've been making, they're graduating -- two of them are going to be the first to graduate in their families -- there's just so many emotions that you go through that when you've been together with a group this long."

On his emotions for Seton Hall's seniors:
"I think once you get past senior night -- I've been dreading this for the last week, week-and-a-half -- I think now, I'm really just going to enjoy being around them and enjoy the memories, and make sure I don't -- I like the way we're playing right now. I like the way we're playing defensively, I like the way our guys are playing. This is the time of year where when you're playing good and you're playing hard the way we are, you can get on a run."

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