Diagnosing a Broken Seton Hall Offense

Posted by Justin Kundrat on January 23rd, 2018

Put simply, Seton Hall‘s season to date has been a roller coaster. After opening the season with impressive wins over Texas Tech and Louisville away from home, the Pirates put up a stinker at Rutgers. They then reeled off five straight victories and held full control of first place in the Big East with an early 3-0 mark. What has followed in the ensuing two weeks has been a 1-3 stretch featuring three of the team’s worst offensive performances of the season. To put that into greater context, here are Seton Hall’s per-game performances, measured by offensive efficiency:

While two of the Pirates’ three recent conference losses have come on the road and none were bad by any means (all were to projected NCAA Tournament teams), it was the way in which the Pirates wallowed that was concerning. There are a number of recent issues with the team’s play, from continued reliance on isolation scoring tactics to slow development of freshmen to opposing defenses pushing center Angel Delgado away from the low post. But the most confounding concern for Seton Hall has been the play of pseudo-point guard Khadeen Carrington.

Carrington is a 6’4″ senior who has climbed his way into the program’s 14th all-time leading scoring slot by playing as an off-ball scoring threat. His first three seasons featured a natural ball-handler on the team, enabling Carrington to utilize his jab step and quickness to find spacing and open shots on the wing. His outside shooting was never spectacular, but a 38.2 percent clip last season was enough of a threat that it supplemented his propensity to get into the lane. This season, however, Carrington’s scoring has suffered as he has been thrust into the role of the lead distributor. His scoring average has dropped from 17.1 PPG to 13.7 PPG while his eFG% has correspondingly fallen from 49.4 percent to 45.1 percent — perhaps unsurprisingly, some of his worst performances of the season have coincided with the team’s worst. So while his assist totals are up, the new role has changed the complexion of his scoring and resulting efficiency.

In a nutshell, sliding into the lead guard role has resulted in Carrington more frequently settling for perimeter jump shots at the expense of attacking the rim. And given that he has missed his last 17 three-point attempts over four games, it’s no wonder that the offense has suffered. There are a number of potential explanations for this. The first is that, as the Pirates’ de facto point guard, he has simply focused less on aggressively pursuing his own scoring agenda. This has manifested in a declining number of shot attempts per game (13.5 FGA to 11.2 FGA) and an ensuing increase in the number of assists per game. But in being forced to play out of position, he has stripped away one of the best elements of his game: attacking off the dribble. Another explanation is that opposing defenses have expended more effort into playing help defense on Delgado, thereby sacrificing open outside looks to Carrington and others. Or it could simply be a new focal point for head coach Kevin Willard to get his team to space the floor and shoot more.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Carrington as point guard experiment has not worked as planned. And with freshman Jordan Walker not yet ready to take the reins, there is also no simple solution. Whether it’s giving Carrington more rest or experimenting with inexperienced ball-handlers, though, Willard needs to try something to reinvigorate the offense. Seton Hall’s postseason future may depend on it.

Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com

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