Sunday, March 11, 2018

Kevin Willard quote book: Selection Sunday

On how Seton Hall was seeded and whether it was a proper placement:
"We're excited. It's the third straight year -- second straight year we've gotten an at-large bid -- and if you look at the seed lines, all the teams in the 6, 7, 8, 9, 10-area are all extremely similar, very good basketball teams, so obviously we drew a very good North Carolina State team that's playing very well, but no matter who you play, you're going to play someone good. Again, I never have an issue with how the committee seeds. We're just excited to be playing and be part of one of the at-large teams."

On Seton Hall's health concerns:
"We're a lot more healthy now than we were a week ago, that's for sure. Ismael Sanogo is back to full strength, he practiced full today. Desi (Rodriguez) actually practiced the most he's practiced probably in about three weeks, so we're no 100 percent healthy, but we're probably as close as we've been in a long time. I like the way we practiced today, I like our intensity, and I like the fact that Ish was able to go through a whole practice and Desi was able to go through half-a-practice. We're on the right side of the curve, that's for sure."

On a Thursday-Saturday regional and being able to get extra rest for Sanogo and Rodriguez:
"I think, to be honest with you, I'm actually excited to play Thursday. We lost last Thursday night, and to be out there and kind of get these guys back in action, I actually like the Thursday-Saturday, and one extra day's not going to cure Desi's foot. Ish is almost at 100 percent, and I think by the time we get to Thursday, Des will be almost at 75-80 percent, which is pretty good."

On what winning an NCAA Tournament game would mean for Seton Hall and its senior class:
"I think that's obviously -- our first year coming off the Big East championship was such a blur and being out west against a really, really good Gonzaga team -- last year, we had an opportunity we kind of let slip at the end. I think this year's focus, from the time we got in the locker room at the Big East Tournament to now, has been to understand the next step for all of us is we've got to go out, we've got to play well and give ourselves the best chance to get a win in the NCAA Tournament. But it's never easy, because you're obviously playing -- anyone you play is a really good basketball team."

On his first impression of North Carolina State:
"I watched their Louisville game at the end of -- I think it was their last game -- they're very tough, a hard-nosed team, they offensive rebound the basketball extremely well, good turnover-to-assist ratio, and they're very balanced. That's the one thing I saw and do remember from the other night is I thought they were a very balanced basketball team that had -- it looked like they always had three or four guys on the floor that could score, and that's really what I remember for them. That's probably the best I could give you."

On what having two No. 1 seeds means for the Big East:
"I think that's phenomenal. I just think it shows you how strong the conference is. The guys and I were talking about that at dinner tonight. It just shows you the depth, shows you how good the league is, how many good players there are, and really, how many good coaches there are, so I think it's exciting for the league to be in that situation and knowing that we've played against those teams, we've played against some of the best teams. It prepares you for this time, so I think it's really phenomenal, to be honest with you."

On playing a team outside the Big East being a better situation for Seton Hall:
"I know Kevin Keatts and I know his staff well, I think they do a great job. Again, I think this time of year, all the teams that are playing are extremely well-coached and do a great job. I'm sure it's not going to be like playing Butler for the third time and back-to-back where everyone kind of knew what we were all doing, but I know Kevin personally and he does a phenomenal job preparing his team, so I think it's going to be a battle no matter what."

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