Willard: ‘We’re going through some adversity’
On Wednesday, sophomore guard Jaren Sina shocked a lot of people with his announcement to part ways with Seton Hall University and the men’s basketball team.
It was known that tempers were flaring of late, but nobody could have guessed it was this bad.
What really caused this spiraling downfall is yet to be seen. Could it be the fact that a young team that has seen ample success throughout the first couple of months of the season had finally felt what it is like to lose?
Head coach Kevin Willard thinks so.
“This is a young team that is really trying to get used to losing for the first time,” Willard said Thursday morning during a Big East teleconference. “We had so much success in the early part of the season… (noting wins over St. John’s, Villanova and during the Paradise Jam tournament)…we’re going through some adversity right now.”
When Willard talks about adversity, it is not just about how his team has lost five of its last seven. So, what else could he mean when he talks about adversity?
Could it be the locker room drama that has surfaced the past couple of days? Willard refused to comment on that after the Pirates most recent loss, to Georgetown on Tuesday, Feb. 10.
But, according to the New York Post’s Zach Braziller, Sina, as well as teammate Sterling Gibbs, did not even enter the locker room following the 86-67 loss.
Is it really that bad?
Whatever it may be, the fact now is, the Pirates have lost a starter on the team. Back in October, Willard repeatedly referred to Sina as a “rock” on the team. Now the Pirates are without that rock. Where do they turn to from here?
“It’s something were going to have to look at,” Willard said. “I think Steph (Manga) and Haralds (Karlis) are going to have to get more time. Everyone’s going to have to step up and fill those (Sina’s) minutes.
Karlis (9.3 minutes per game) and Manga (10.1 minutes per game) cannot even combine (19.4) to make up the 32.2 minutes per game Sina brought to the team.
The cold reality is that the Pirates, who are technically still on the cusp of an NCAA Tournament appearance, just lost a guy who logged over 30 minutes a game and started all but one game.
Sina, who Willard called “a fine young man and a terrific player” is gone. But he did offer some parting words to his “rock.”
“We wish Jaren the ultimate best,” Willard said. “I loved coaching him, he was a terrific representation of the team. I wish he was still on the team but I wish him all the best. I love the kid to death and I wish him nothing but the best.”
From here, the Pirates face arguably their toughest road trip of the season. Starting on Saturday, Feb. 14., the Pirates will travel to Providence to take on the Friars. From there, they face Villanova on Monday, Feb. 16., and St. John’s on Saturday, Feb. 21.
“It’s just a matter of getting these guys back in the rhythm,” Willard calls it.
David Heim can be reeached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @davidheim12.