Kevin Willard talks team leadership, personality

The men’s basketball team will open its season on Nov. 11 in Walsh Gymnasium. Greg Medina/Asst. Photography Editor

The men’s basketball team will open its season on Nov. 11 in Walsh Gymnasium. Greg Medina/Asst. Photography Editor

Once viewed as a raw class of freshmen, a group of juniors are asked to step up on and off the court to lead the Seton Hall men’s basketball team.

The group of Khadeen Carrington, Ismael Sanogo, Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez now find themselves the veterans on an already mature team.

When asked about who has stepped up to lead in the absence of Derrick Gordon and Isaiah Whitehead, head coach Kevin Willard cited the four returning starters. They all have unique way in which they contribute with their leadership.

“They’ve all taken on a bit of leadership in different ways. Khadeen is great with individual instruction, Ish [Sanogo] is in practice every day, Angel [Delgado] with his intensity, Desi growing up and being more of a leader,” Willard said. “I think all four of them have really taken a role in trying to help some of the younger guys, but it’s a team that’s a little bit more mature that doesn’t need one singular voice.”

The core four have to fill the leadership role and they have to replace the production Gordon and Whitehead used to provide. Willard has made it clear the void will not be filled by a single player.

“I expect everyone to have a small improvement of what they did last year,” Willard said. “If everybody has a small improvement of what they did last year, we’re going to be a pretty good basketball team. I think everyone’s going to be more involved this year, but there’s not one person that fills a void that was left when Isaiah left. No one’s going to replace that void, and they all understand that. We’ll be much more balanced offensively than we were last year, because these guys can handle the offensive load and they understand they have to get a little better.”

Carrington has made it clear that the players are aware of the need for them to step up as leaders and scorers.

“Desi can definitely fill the void. Angel, definitely down there in the post, and I need to do some scoring too,” Carrington said.

One area of personality where Willard is unsure of is who will step up in the final moments of games.

“We’ve become a little bit more balanced of a basketball team offensively,” Willard said. “I think where we’re really trying to find our personality right now is towards the end of the shot clock, where last year, we got very comfortable with [Isaiah] having the basketball in his hands towards the end of the shot clock. I think we’re trying to find our personality now of ‘where are we with under 12 seconds on the shot clock?’ What are we going to do? Who’s going to be ready to step up and not make a shot, but make a play for somebody else?”

Without Whitehead to go to in crunchtime, the team will have to wait for a new playmaker to make the big buckets.

It could be freshman Myles Powell, whom Willard said has lived up to the high expectations thus far.

“He’s doing a much better job trying to guard, that’s something all freshmen really struggle with,” Willard said on Powell. “He’s probably the best offensive scorer as a freshman that I’ve coached. He’s that skilled offensively to score the basketball, so he’s been a great surprise, and his work ethic is phenomenal.”

Still, the one void still left from Whitehead’s departure is the clutch player. Who is going to be the player that makes the driving layup to win the Big East Championship?

As the four returning starters in Carrington, Sanogo, Delgado and Rodriguez step up in their leadership, the increased responsiblity shows that all will make the effort to be fill any void needed with a quick trigger or a presence in the paint.

Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at or on Twitter @eswint22.

Author: Elizabeth Swinton

Elizabeth Swinton is a television production major at Seton Hall University where she serves as Sports Editor of The Setonian. In addition, Swinton is a social media specialist and contributing writer for The Brooklyn Game. You can follow her on Twitter @eswint22

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