“I think the biggest difference between last year and this year is we were mentally and emotionally exhausted from the Big East Tournament”, Willard said. The Pirates only lost to three teams that did not make the Big Dance and did what they had to do against the teams that they were supposed to beat. But, it is nearly as if they needed those losses.
“Bringing a team back from the dead is in my view is the most hard thing to do in basketball”, said Steve Lavin, who was a head coach for UCLA and St. John’s and is now an analyst for Big East games on Fox Sports national coverage.
As the No. 6 seed in 2016 Seton Hall drew No. 11 Gonzaga and lost 68-52 in the first round.
There’s nothing that can be done about the play now, but you know it will sit with Seton Hall for a while.
“It’s what we’re all building, and for me, taking a step back, obviously it validates everything we’re doing”, Lyons said after the team practiced Monday, days before a planned Wednesday night departure to the tournament. This Pirates team is risky, and capable of taking even the No. 1 overall seed down to the wire.
Center Angel Delgado said the sole focus now is getting ready for the eighth-seeded Razorbacks and not losing. Delgado led the nation in rebounding this season at just over 13 per game while showing a deft passing touch creating offensive opportunities for his teammates. “Now, we want to win something, so we got to go out there and prove something”. I want to go to the next round, the next round, the next round.
“The guys that were here past year know what it takes to win”, said Rodriguez, a 6-foot-7 wing from The Bronx. There was a long stretch in the middle of the season when Macon was mostly regarded as the best player on the team. Their strength has been their junior leaders – Delgado, point guard Khadeen Carrington and forwards Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo, the team’s top defender.
We’ll have up-to-the-minute scoring and stats here throughout the game. “The whole altitude thing was insane”. “Like past year, we were still stuck on that high being Big East Champions”.
With a 23 point, six rebound performance, Kingsley led all scorers, recording his second 20-point game of the season, 10th of his career.
Seton Hall’s NCAA experience might help early. Villanova scored 55 points in its semifinal win.
Arkansas’ pressure defense forced Carrington to travel with 24 seconds left, forfeiting a possession in which a surging Pirates team could have taken the lead.
What we all expected became reality Sunday afternoon when CBS announced the NCAA Tournament pairings a couple of hours after the Arkansas Razorbacks’ painful defeat in the SEC Tournament championship game. “He’s never said, ‘No we can’t do that here.’ He’ll say, ‘If that’s what we need to do, we’ll fin d a way to do it.’ That doesn’t happen at a lot of schools”.