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Kevin Willard might suck, JP definitely doesn’t: a Sunday Conversation

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Also: can Xavier win the Big East this year?

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Seton Hall
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS/TEAM!”
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Joel

What a win. There’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll get to JP, but huge shouts to Big Sean. Angel Delgado was bullying Kerem Kanter and Tyrique in the middle, but O’Mara wasn’t having any of that bull crap. He was a straight up dog in the middle down the stretch, and shoring up the boards was a huge part of X taking over.

Bryan

Today felt like there was a good deal more effort given than the trip to Providence. Kaiser off the bench just seems to work for some reason, and Big Sean, despite not having a good day on offense, showed his value in doing the dirty work.

As an aside, how do more people not hate Angel Delgado? He spends 60% of the game actively fouling someone, 20% whining like a toddler, and whatever is left actually playing basketball.

Brad

Angel Delgado might be the most overrated player in the conference. He gets bulk numbers, and there’s no question he’s a horse on the glass, but he’s sneaky bad around the rim and has zero range. The man played 39 minutes and grabbed 18 rebounds and only managed a 92 offensive efficiency. That shouldn’t happen.

Bryan

They looked clueless on offense today. It seemed like the plan was to run at the basket and if that didn’t work, take a contested jumper. I guess that is how you score in the 60’s back to back games.

Joel

The thing about Delgado is that he just doesn’t know what dude he is. He’s shooting 62.8% at the rim but just 49.5% from inside the arc. How can that be? Because he’s just 31-92 (33.7%) on two-point jumpers. Why does he take almost half his twos from away from the rim? No idea.

It gets better though. He’s 22-34 (62.6%) on putbacks at the rim, meaning that he’s 49-79 (62.0%) at the rim that aren’t putbacks. All that to say that, when he’s setting himself up for the shot rather than getting it off of an offensive board, Delgado is more likely to choose a jumper (where he’s hitting 33.7%) than a layup or dunk (where he’s hitting 62.0%). If only there were someone - maybe a member of the school’s faculty or staff - with the authority and force of personality to make Delgado stay where he’s more effective on offense. Sadly, Seton Hall appears to lack such a person.

Brad

Do you mean Desi Rodriguez? He seems to hold a lot of sway there.

Bryan

Is Isaiah Whitehead still deciding who stays and goes in that program?

Joel

There was a big thing around the turn of the year about Kevin Willard letting the senior class talk him into not kicking fellow senior Ish Sanogo off the team after Sanogo had gotten suspended for the second time in the year for “really bad judgments.” Rob Dauster of NBC - who I generally like - pitched it as a sign of how close the senior class is, but I think it’s just part of Willard’s ongoing track record of not being in control of his own team. Add to that the fact that I think he sucks as a coach and I’m glad we’ve got the other skinny, bald white guy coaching in the Big East. You know, the good one.

Speaking of white guys, how about JP Macura? Seton Hall’s student section chanted JP sucks during the introductions and never really backed off of it. JP crushed them for 27/3/2, including 18/3/2 in the second half as Xavier came back from down as many as 10 to bury the Pirates in their own building. WHEN WILL THEY LEARN?

Brad

I’ll be honest, prior to Whitehead, I thought Willard was going to be a good coach. He does consistently deliver good teams now, but he also leaves you with the feeling that there’s a lot more to get out of the talent he has. Look at Carrington, Rodriguez, and Delgado. With those guys, Sterling Gibbs, and Isaiah Whitehead, Willard has managed zero NCAA wins. That should be just about unforgivable. We crush Ed Cooley pretty routinely here, but at least his teams occasionally win when it matters.

And what JP did yesterday was a virtuoso performance. Sometimes all that instigator stuff and talking obscures the fact he’s a very, very good basketball player. He took that game over in every possible way last night. He was on the floor, making steals, draining threes, and punching follow dunks. He just could not be stopped in the last ten minutes.

Bryan

The year prior to Whitehead they lost to St. Peters and Farleigh Dickinson at home. It also bears noting that they routinely stumble through January, having never had a record over .500 in the month since X joined the Big East.

On the subject of JP, how much do you think the taunting actually affects him? He has undoubtedly heard it all before at this point, and it isn’t like Seton Hall is somewhere he has a lot of history for it to be a really personal game. I guess I wonder if having the same things screamed at him by the faceless masses really moves the needle for him anymore or if he has just come to expect it. Also, it is good he went off yesterday because our bigs were not going to get us across the line. The big 3 combined for 4 points in 39 minutes, which is pretty bad imho.

Joel

I think it affects him a little. He said post-game yesterday that he hears it all and it makes him play with more fire, but that it gets a little annoying. Why any opposing fan base would want to antagonize him at this point is beyond me. I think he’s demonstrated that there’s no such thing as getting inside his head; when he gets all intense, it’s about to go off.

As awesome as that win was, we’re going to need a lot more of that if we want to challenge for the Big East title. It generally takes 15 or 16 wins to get it, so we’ve gotta run the table if we want 16. If we want 15, we’ve got one loss left in the bank. KenPom sees us finishing 13-5, with opponents being favored @Creighton and home to Nova, plus one procedural loss. He’s got Nova at 15-3 with their only losses being procedural.

Even if Nova ends up at 15-3, do you think X has a shot at the league title? With @Creighton, @Butler, and home to Nova still on the board, X getting to 15-3 is a big ask, and even then it couldn’t include a second loss to Nova.

Bryan

It is going to hinge on that Nova game at Cintas. We have a track record of moderate succes at both Creighton and Butler having won at each place twice before in the BE, although never in the same year. Nova, on the other hand, routinely hammers us home and away, with the one exception. Until we can start at least giving them a game, any talk of overtaking them in the league is premature.