Lopiano: Pete Dill, the enigma that keeps on giving
On a night when the Seton Hall men’s basketball team obliterated the St. John’s Red Storm, 94-64, the post-game buzz wasn’t about senior Jordan Theodore’s impressive 16 point, 10 assist, and three steal performance.
It wasn’t about the 15 3-pointers that Seton Hall drained and it had nothing to do with three Pirates recording double-doubles.
When the buzzer rang, one name filled the air of the press room: Pete Dill.
Dill’s fame is no longer a shock to anyone at this point, now that he’s gotten serious air time on ESPN’s SportsCenter and has a Twitter (@HammerOfDill) named after his emphatic post-shot bench celebrations.
As the Pirates continued their barrage of 3-pointers with just nine minutes to play in regulation on Tuesday, the fans broke out their best “we want Peter” chant, a full seven minutes ahead of the usual time.
“That was wild,” Dill said after the game. “You have to give it time. If they hit some threes, they’re back in this game.”
Dill, who sat upright in front of his locker at the Prudential Center as reporters held microphones up to him, was as humble as ever.
He rubbed his head as he fielded question after question about a mere two minutes of action.
In those two minutes, Dill picked up two steals and two assists. The first of the two assists was a crafty, two-handed bounce pass that split two St. John’s defenders and found a cutting Patrik Auda for an easy layup.
As Auda flipped the ball up and into the net, the crowd erupted. The Seton Hall bench could barely contain their excitement.
Dill, on the other hand, sprinted back on defense. For him, the stats are just an afterthought.
“Yeah, it was a good moment I guess,” Dill said, laughing and glancing at the floor. “I just kinda ran the play we worked on. That’s a play we run in practice. Freddie [Wilson] gave me a good pass and I did the play we worked on. That’s all.”
Head coach Kevin Willard, who called Dill’s number at the end of the bench with roughly two minutes to play, didn’t hesitate to speak about the walk-on’s mentality both on and off the basketball court.
“Petey is the best,” Willard said. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy in the world. There’s something special about that kid…nothing fake, no B.S. He just really wants something good to happen for his teammates.”
Willard then jokingly added that despite Dill’s great pass, “he is still the worst basketball player.”
Even as Dill, a native of Long Hill, N.J., sat there at his locker after the game, smiling ear to ear and answering each question with a gracious humility, his teammates joked with him, calling him “Dill pickle” and “The Dillmeister.”
Dill is an enigma, and it has little, if anything, to do with his talent as a basketball player.
His personality is both gentle and intense. It’s infectious. His impact is as vital as anyone else on the 14-man roster.
Willard, who let Dill stay on the team after taking the job as head coach before last season, said there is a spot on his coaching staff reserved for Dill when he graduates from Seton Hall.
Statistics can tell a lot about a basketball player. But for some players, it’s not about how they play.
It’s about what they say.
“I don’t even know what I want to do,” Dill said about coaching. “I just want to do something that makes me happy and makes me feel satisfied. I just want to do good for others.”
John Lopiano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org