Rushed Reactions: Villanova 55, Seton Hall 53Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 10th, 2017
RTC’s Justin Kundrat (@justinkundrat) is providing on-site coverage of the Big East Tournament all week long.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Villanova’s defensive versatility once again saved the day. Even though the team’s 1-2-2 full court press hasn’t been as effective as last season, Wright still successfully employed it interchangeably with a 2-3 zone and its patented switching man-to-man tonight. Throwing out different looks not only forces opponents to re-adjust their offensive sets, but it also takes valuable time off the shot clock. Despite a lack of height and Eric Paschall’s lingering foul trouble, the Wildcats’ defense challenged Seton Hall’s paint-dominant and relentless style of play, holding the Pirates to just 0.90 points per possession and ultimately curtailing Angel Delgado‘s 13-game double-double streak.
- Seton Hall’s half-court offense has come a long way since November. Much has been said about the post-Isaiah Whitehead adjustment period, but over the last few weeks this team looks radically different in its half-court execution. Even though forward Desi Rodriguez is still struggling with his outside shot, his dribble-drive threat remains the team’s most reliable source of scoring opportunities. Being able to attack the rim with his 215-pound frame also provides the benefit of room and rebounding chances for Delgado, the nation’s leading rebounder. Seton Hall’s lack of a true passing point guard is unquestionably overcome by its penchant for attacking the rim in one-on-one situations.
- At the end of the day, playmaking abilities won out. At the risk of sounding too cliché, this could not have proven truer on Friday night. In a game between two down-tempo, physical teams, the total score barely eclipsed the century mark. The 59-possession affair put a premium on making the most of limited opportunities in the closing minutes; supported by both Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson, Villanova simply had the better playmakers.
Star of the Game. Josh Hart. Leading the team in scoring and rebounding, Hart’s night was full of momentum changing plays: a steal leading to a transition score to close the gap; a critical lead-changing three with 3:57 left in the game; and the eventual game-winner off a missed Jenkins’ three. Hart’s first half shooting from the floor left a lot to be desired (2-of-7), but he still amassed 19 points while adding 10 rebounds.
- Jay Wright, on why Seton Hall is such a challenge: “The things that we do, they match up really well with.”
- Wright, on Villanova’s final play down the stretch: “At the end there, that [Kris] Jenkins three was not the shot we wanted to take.”
- Josh Hart, on his game-winning basket: “Kris was surprised he was so open, I just saw him shoot it and saw he put a little too much mustard on it… so I just thought, you know what, I’ll go get it.”
- Madison Jones, on his team’s game plan: “We definitely wanted them to shoot tough twos all night and that’s what we pretty much did.”
Sights & Sounds. Villanova and Seton Hall have quite the history here at the Garden, from Sterling Gibbs‘ game-winning stepback three years ago to last year’s nail-biter capped off by an Isaiah Whitehead runner. So it shouldn’t be surprising that this game also came down to the wire in front of a full house containing all sorts of blue.
What’s Next? Villanova will live to see another day, squaring off in its third straight Big East championship on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, the Pirates will take the short bus ride home to South Orange, where they will await their impending NCAA Tournament match-up.