|Seton Hall's Desi Rodriguez putting up a layup against Kansas on Saturday night.|
The Seton Hall Pirates lost to the Kansas Jayhawks, the top seed in the Midwest Region, 83-79, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night in Wichita.
Seton Hall's vaunted class of seniors gave their all in their last game as Pirates.
Khadeen Carrington led the way with 28 points on a superb 9-13 from the field, including 5-8 from behind the arc, with two assists and a block.
Angel Delgado had a monster game with 24 points (10-17 FG) and 23 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end. He also had five assists and a block, but committed four turnovers as well.
Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo got the start in this one, after coming off the bench on Thursday against NC State.
Rodriguez had six points (2-10 FG, 1-4 three-pointers), with three rebounds and a steal in 35 minutes. His season was never the same since he suffered a leg injury after slipping on the court at Providence on February 21 in a game that later was called off due to poor floor conditions.
Sanogo also missed time toward the end of the season due to injury, and he had no points in this one, shooting 0-3, but he did contribute with five rebounds, including three on the offensive end, and racked up an assist, a block, and a steal, while fouling out in 23 minutes of action.
Myles Powell, the sophomore guard, poured in 14 points (5-15 FG, 4-10 threes), with two rebounds and a steal.
The game began with a 15-6 run by Kansas, but Seton Hall battled back and trailed by just five, at 31-26, at halftime.
Kansas came out firing in the second half, as a Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk jumper gave them a 40-30 edge in the first few minutes.
The Jayhawks built that lead to 13, at 52-39, on a Lagerald Vick three-pointer at the 12:21 mark.
Seton Hall battled back, and a Myles Powell three pulled them back within four points, 66-62, with 3:27 remaining.
Mykhailiuk made a three with 1:20 left that made it an eight-point game, 71-63, with just 1:20 left.
The Hall had one last gasp, as Carrington scored ten in a row to make it a one-possession game, 79-76, with 13 seconds left.
Malik Newman of Kansas answered as he drained six free throws in the final 36 seconds to help Kansas seal the win.
Newman led Kansas with 28 points on 8-14 from the field, 4-8 on three-pointers, 8-8 from the free throw line, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Seton Hall Postgame Press Conference With Head Coach Kevin Willard, Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, and Udoka Azubuike
COACH WILLARD: I thought it was an extremely well-played game by both teams. I felt the kids really left everything out on the floor for both teams. Proud of the way my guys kept fighting back. Just gotta give Kansas a lot of credit. They hit a lot of big shots late and earned a hard-fought win.
Q. This question is for Angel. Angel, how were you able to dominate the front court in this game, and what can you say about the way your teammates performed and left their mark here?
ANGEL DELGADO: I think we played kind of the best game what we ever played. The guys leave everything on the floor and I'm really proud of my teammates and I would not change these guys for anybody in the country.
Q. Guys, what are your emotions like when you had such a memorable four years and you play the No. 1 seed in their basically in their backyard. It's basically a road game and you come up four points short and it's over. What's kind of the feelings like right now?
KHADEEN CARRINGTON: It's tough, because you know you left everything out on the floor. You gotta give credit to Kansas. They're a great team, well coached. But can't win them all, so --
ISMAEL SANOGO: It's not the happiest moment. I felt like my guys from the starting five to everybody on the bench gave their all. Couldn't ask for more than that. I'm sad, but I'm also happy that I got the chance to play with some of the best players in the country and to be coached by the best coach in the country.
DESI RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, like they said, we're in a tough situation right now because of the loss, but playing with these guys for four years probably was the best four years of my life. These became my family and my brothers for life, and playing for Coach Willard, you know, I think both teams gave it our all today. Today I didn't play my best, but things happen, and I had that sucky game today. So just gotta move on and just -- just like I said, just move on.
ANGEL DELGADO: It really sucks, basically. It really sucks to leave like this right now because we got so much expectation. We want to win everything and we want to be the best team in the tournament, but it's one winner and one loser and we're the losing team right now. So I'm just proud of my team, just proud of my coach. He's not only my coach. He's like my dad. So it's kind of hard right now, but I just love my guys.
Q. For all four of you, what legacy did you leave at Seton Hall?
KHADEEN CARRINGTON: I think we left -- I think who watched us play could say that we were tough-nosed, gritty kids. We didn't take anything from anybody, and we played hard. And that's what we tried to do from the time we stepped on campus. We tried to play for ourselves, for our coaches and for our families and for the name on the front of our jerseys.
ISMAEL SANOGO: We left the the legacy of us being a family. We won together, we lost together. We did everything together. And like Khadeen said, if you watched us play, we left everything out on the floor at every single game, and that tradition is going to carry on for the rest of Seton Hall legacy.
DESI RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Early in our careers we faced adversity. We overcame it powerful, and every one of these guys grew as people on the court and off the court. We came from boys to men, and Coach did a great job of doing that and developing each one of us, making each other better people, you know, just not for basketball, off the court and later in life. And I want to say thank you to him. He did an unbelievable job with me. A lot of people gave up on me, but Coach didn't. When times got hard, he stuck by my side. When I went through depression time, I was able to talk to him. He was able to help me a lot. So I just want to thank him for this past four years and just being a father figure to me and these guys right here, we will never lose touch. We will be brothers for life, talk every day, same relationship. Just after this, basketball -- this is just not basketball. This is off the court things, too. We're just going to stick together, and I wish these guys luck in the future.
ANGEL DELGADO: Yeah, like these guys said, we left everything on the floor. These four years probably is the best four years of my life right now, and I'm really proud of this. This is the best decision I ever made in my life to come to Seton Hall and be part of this and these great coaches. These four years that we've been here, we won, we lost, hard times, good times, but everybody faced the bad times, too, and we're facing it right now. But everything good. And I love my guys, I love my coaches and ready to make the big step.
Q. Angel, how much from your perspective did the 22 minutes played by Udoka figure in Kansas's outcome on this?
ANGEL DELGADO: You gotta give him credit. He's a big guy, big, big guy, trust me. But at the same time they kind of slowed with him, too. And we just run the right play at the right time. But you just gotta give him credit. He's an unbelievable player. He did a great job with his bad knee. You just gotta give credit to great players. But he's a great, competitive guy, and we just both competitive guys, so we just fight the whole game.
MODERATOR: At this time we'll take questions for the head coach.
Q. Kevin, it kind of felt like this performance was kind of typical of what they gave you guys for four years, you know. Maybe it didn't always end well, but just never got knocked down. They never kind of gave up. What did you just think overall of just how your guys battled in obviously a really, really tough spot?
COACH WILLARD: It's why I love those guys. They're such special young men who have battled, who have sacrificed, who have grown. I think the hardest thing is, you know, they show up as freshmen and they think they know everything and then all of a sudden you watch them grow into men. And those four young men who just walked off this stage are terrific, unbelievable young men who have represented us, myself with the highest character. And this game was exactly how their career is. Not pretty at all times, but absolutely unbelievable grit, unbelievable effort. And they never, ever walked off the floor without giving it their all, and I think that's something that not a whole lot of kids can say for their career.
Q. Kevin, can you put into words what those four guys that were sitting to your left, what they meant to you, what they meant to the Seton Hall program?
COACH WILLARD: Not right now I can't because I'll get emotional. You know, it's going to take me a couple of days, just because they're like my kids. They really are. That's all I got on that one. Have Zach ask me that question because I always feel better if I can give him a zinger a little bit, make me in a better mood.
Q. On Angel's performance tonight was one of only five 20-20 performances in modern NCAA Tournament history. What can you say about what he did and the -- how he was able to do it in this environment?
COACH WILLARD: Yeah, you know, I tell you what, I should have went to him more with Azubuike in the game. I kind of went away from him because I didn't want to wear him out a little bit just because of Azubuike's size. I mean, but someone's going to be really happy with him next year, because he's been doing that his whole career. His offensive rebounding just kept us alive throughout the whole game. His motor is second to none, and you know, 38 minutes against -- 22 against Azubuike, having to guard Devonte' Graham's pick and rolls, that's an unbelievable effort by our big guy. And like I said, someone in the NBA is going to be really happy next year that he's on their roster.
Q. As a followup to that, what would you say to an NBA scout or GM about who watched this game tonight about him and what he can do?
COACH WILLARD: I don't have to say anything about anything. I think they all say the same thing to me. They love his motor. They love his competitiveness. You know, you put him on the roster and you're going to win a lot of games. You know, he's a coach's dream, because he shows up every day. He practices hard. He works hard. He's a great teammate. And then when the ball is tipped, he's going to get you 9, 10 offensive rebounds. He's going to get you some put backs. He's going to get you extra possessions. And he's gotten really good defensively, where he can guard for us if we had somebody else. So I think he's just one of those guys that wins you games. And I think at the next level that's a premium. You know, he might not be -- he's not going to shoot the ball 30 times next year, but he's going to get the guy that does shoot 30 times four or five open looks. And that's something that's a premium.
Q. You play a game like this, you know, it's basically a road game. You're an 8 seed, and when you show what you did show, is there any part of you that's just kicking yourself saying if we would have won a few more games during this season, we're a five or a six?
COACH WILLARD: There you go, Zach. Thatta boy, thatta boy. Yes. I mean, I think that's -- that's the lesson that I was trying to get through, when we were having a little tough stretch in late January was understanding that a couple -- I think there's only really two losses that we had were going to hurt our seeding. And there's a huge difference of being a 7 and then being an 8, you know, because you are playing a road game when you're on the 8-9 line. I think I watched Rhode Island versus Duke for a little bit, and I think that was in Pittsburgh, and I don't know how many Duke graduates are in Pittsburgh, but that's more of a neutral site game. I mean, this was a great environment. The Kansas fans are engaged. They're smart; they're passionate. You can understand why it's such a great program.
And Bill's as good of coach as I've ever gone up against. He's just one of the best. So moving forward, yes, I think what my young guys and the guys sitting out have to understand is that some of those games in January and February, those are -- some of those games are the most important ones. Obviously you have to beat the Texas Techs. You have to beat some of the good teams. But a 6 seed, 5 seed instead of an 8 seed is a huge difference.
Q. This team clearly had the ability to be that. Right?
COACH WILLARD: Yeah. And I think that's, you know, I think that's something that I've learned as a coach is when you coach four seniors that all have aspirations of playing and moving on, I talked to a lot of people this year about it's hard sometimes to manage all those expectations, and I think as the season went on, managing them sometimes got in the way of us playing. And you know, it's a lesson learned moving forward, and I think the next time we're in this situation we'll make sure that we don't make those mistakes.
Q. Coach, you brought a team here with four seniors to lead your team but how do you build off of this, your first tournament win in quite some time? How do you build towards next year?
COACH WILLARD: Yeah. I love the momentum that we've created. Again, I think we've only gone to 12 -- 12 NCAA tournaments in Seton Hall's history, and we've got three in a row, which we take a lot of pride in. I think the biggest thing that everyone talks about these guys' legacy, the legacy that I know they'll leave is the fact that the three guys I have sitting out, the young freshman that we had playing, the three or four guys we have coming in next year all understand what they need to do on an everyday basis to take the next step. And people talk about on the floor, but really, these guys showed up every day. They worked hard every day. And if you ask them if they were still up here, they would say -- and they wouldn't know it right now, but when they come back next year to watch us play, they're going to know by the way Q (Quincy), Taurean and Ro (Romero), all these freshmen work on an everyday basis, and that's going to be their greatest legacy is the fact that the consistency that they work with, the consistency that they played on the floor, the consistency that we've won for the last I would even say four years, their freshman year, has given Seton Hall a very, very bright future. And not a lot of kids understand that at this time. They won't understand it until they come back next year for a home game. And they'll be really excited about their legacy because they'll watch it on the court. That's a long answer for that question. I apologize.