Saturday, March 17, 2018

Kevin Willard quote book: Kansas

Opening statement:
"I thought it was an extremely well-played game by both teams. I thought the kids really left everything out on the floor for both teams. I'm proud of the way my guys kept fighting back. I give Kansas a lot of credit, they hit a lot of big shots late and earned a hard-fought win."

On Seton Hall's seniors in their final game:
"It's why I love those guys, they're such special young men who have battled, sacrificed, who have grown. I think the hardest thing is they show up as freshmen and they think they know everything, and then all of a sudden, you watch them grow into men. Those four young men who just walked off this stage are terrific, unbelievable young men who represented us and myself with the highest character, and this game is exactly how their career is -- not pretty at all times, but absolutely unbelievable grit, unbelievable effort -- and they never, ever walked off the floor without giving it their all, and I think that's something that not a whole lot of kids can say for their career."

On what Seton Hall's seniors meant, and how he can put it into words:
"Not right now, I can't -- because I'll get emotional -- it's going to take me a couple days just because they're like my kids, they really are. That's all I've got."

On Angel Delgado's 24 points and 23 rebounds:
"I'll tell you what, I should have went to him more with (Udoka) Azubuike in the game. I kind of went away from him -- because I didn't want to wear him out -- a little bit just because of Azubuike's size, but someone's going to be really happy with him next year. He's been doing that his whole career. I just thought his offensive rebounding just kept us alive the whole game. His motor is second to none, and in 38 minutes against -- 22 against Azubuike -- having to guard Devonte' Graham's pick-and-rolls, that's an unbelievable effort by our big guy. Like I said, someone in the NBA next year's going to be really happy next year that he's on their roster."

On advice he would give to NBA scouts about Delgado:
"I don't have to say anything, I think they all say the same thing to me. They love his motor, they love his competitiveness. He's going to -- if you put him on a roster, you're going to win a lot of games. He's a coach's dream because he shows up every day -- he practices hard, he works hard, he's a great teammate -- and when the ball is tipped, he's going to get you nine, ten offensive rebounds, he's going to get you putbacks, he's going to get you extra possessions, and he's gotten really good defensively where he can guard fours defensively, so I think he's just one of those guys that wins you games, and I think at the next level, that's a premium. He might not be -- he's not going to shoot the ball 30 times next year -- but he's going to get the guy who does shoot 30 times four or five open looks, and that's something that's a premium."

On whether he second-guessed himself for not doing more in the regular season after tonight's game:
"I think that's the lesson I was trying to get through when we were having a little tough stretch in late January was understanding that a couple -- I think it was only two rough losses that we had -- were going to hurt our seeding. There's a huge difference in being a 7 (seed) and then being an 8, because you are playing a road game when you're on the 8-9 line. I think -- I watched Rhode Island vs. Duke for a little bit -- I think that was in Pittsburgh, and I don't know how many Duke graduates are in Pittsburgh -- but that was more of a neutral-site game. This was a great environment. The Kansas fans were engaged, they're smart, they're passionate, and you can understand why it's such a great program, and Bill (Self) is as good a coach as I've ever gone up against. He's just one of the best. So moving forward, yes, I think what my young guys and the guys sitting out have to understand is that some of those games in January and February, some of those games are the most important ones. Obviously you have to beat the Texas Techs, you have to beat some of the good teams, but a 6-seed or a 5-seed instead of an 8-seed is a huge difference."

On Seton Hall being capable of earning a lower seed:
"I think that's something that I've learned as a coach is when you coach four seniors that all have aspirations of playing and moving on -- I've talked to a lot of people this year about -- it's hard sometimes to manage all those expectations, and I think as the season went on, managing them sometimes got in the way of us playing. It's a lesson learned moving forward, and I think the next time we're in that situation, we'll make sure we won't make those mistakes."

On how to build toward next season:
"I love the momentum that we've created. Again, I think we've only gone to twelve NCAA Tournaments in Seton Hall's history, and we've got three in a row, which we take a lot of pride in. I think the biggest thing -- everyone talks about these guys' legacy -- the legacy that I know they'll leave is the fact that the three guys I had sitting out, the young freshmen we had playing, the three or four guys we've got coming in next year, all understand what they need to do on an everyday basis to take the next step. People talk about on the floor, but really, these guys showed up every day, they worked hard every day, and if you asked them if they were still up here, they would say -- and they wouldn't know it right now, but when they come back next year and watch us play -- they're going to know by the way Q (Quincy McKnight), Taurean (Thompson), Ro (Romaro Gill), all these freshmen work on an everyday basis. And that's going to be their greatest legacy, the fact that the consistency that they worked with, the consistency that they played on the floor, the consistency that we've won for the last -- I wouldn't even say four years, their freshman year -- has given Seton Hall a very, very bright future, and not a lot of kids understand that at this time. They won't understand it until they come back next year for a home game, and they'll be really excited about their legacy, because they'll watch it on the court. That's a long answer for that question, I apologize."

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