BTP: Seton Hall’s had some really quality wins this season - winning on the road against Louisville, beating Texas Tech, beating Butler twice, just to name a few - what does this team do well that helps them win these big games?
MA: It’s in these big games that Seton Hall’s star players come to play. When Desi Rodriguez is able to find his own shot, Myles Powell is knocking down three’s, and Angel Delgado is dominating the glass, this team can beat anybody in the country. And I mean that. The reason that they find themselves an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament is because they have not been able to find any consistency this season. They’ve also had to deal with Khadeen Carrington’s transition to the point guard position, which at times has looked great but at others has been a bit rough. It sounds cliché, but when Seton Hall’s top players all feed off one another, they gain momentum very rapidly and become a very scary team to play.
BTP: What’s the status of Desi Rodriguez’s ankle? Will he be back to 100% against the Pack?
MA: Earlier this week, Head Coach Kevin Willard said that Rodriguez would be “75, 80 percent” by Thursday, however after a full week of practice, Rodriguez seems to be feeling fine. Rodriguez said he did not have much pain in his sprained ankle, and it appears that Rodriguez should be close to 100 percent come game time.
BTP: Who is a player that may not score as much as Rodriguez, but is equally vital for Seton Hall to be successful?
MA: Khadeen Carrington has to score for Seton Hall to have success in this game. After transitioning to point guard this season from his natural shooting guard position, Carrington hasn’t been able to find the balance between scoring and passing that many natural point guards have. When Rodriguez was out with his ankle injury, Carrington was the best offensive player for Seton Hall in those games. Now that Rodriguez is set to return, if Carrington is able to continue this scoring barrage, the Pirates have two lethal offensive options that could help the Pirates separate themselves in this game.
BTP: Which player on the Wolfpack gives you the most concern?
MA: Omer Yurtseven. Many people praise Angel Delgado for being one of the best big men in the country, but he is a liability when he has to defend away from the basket. In last season’s NCAA Tournament game against Arkansas, Delgado struggled to defend Razorback big man Moses Kingsley when he stepped away from the basket, and I think it’s what cost Seton Hall the game. Yurtseven isn’t as much of a threat outside of the paint as Kingsley was, but nonetheless he has the ability to spread the floor. Any big man that can spread the floor and draw Delgado out of the paint scares me.
BTP: Let’s get a prediction - how do you see this game playing out?
MA: Getting Desi Rodriguez back for Seton Hall is a major plus. They have missed him dearly over the last couple of weeks. This is going to be a close game for sure, but this senior class of Seton Hall wants this game badly. The program has not won a tournament game since 2004, and this senior class wants to add to their legacy. They won a Big East title in 2016, they’ve led the program to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since the 1990s, but they don’t have that NCAA Tournament win yet. On Thursday, I think they finally get it. I’ll take Seton Hall 79-74.
Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer our questions. You can find my answers for his questions over on Big East Coast Bias.