Desi Rodriguez is using Big East play to get into his shooting groove.
After averaging 14.3 points per game in non-conference play this season, the junior forward has jumped to an average of 21.0 points per game in Big East action.
Once conference play hit, Rodriguez became the familiar scoring weapon that Seton Hall fans love, a threat from beyond the arc and a harmer of the hoop.
After a slow start from three this season, Rodriguez has heated up during conference play.
“Coach told me I shot the best of the three-point percentage last year. Coach is telling me that I’m not finding my shot the way I was last year,” Rodriguez said following a 81-68 win over Delaware on Dec. 17. “He said I wasn’t stepping into my shot, was releasing it too quick, so in practice, that’s what I’ve been doing, stepping into my shot, and I’ve been knocking them down in practice.”
Rodriguez has dropped 3.8 three-pointers per game in Big East play, which is a stark increase from his conference average of 0.8 threes per game last season. He’s also shooting 53.5 percent from beyond the arc, up from his 35 percent shooting from three in-conference last year.
Last week, the junior posted a career-high 30 points against Marquette on Jan. 11 and a team-high 20 points against Providence on Jan. 14.
For those performances, on Jan. 16, Rodriguez received a nod on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll, leading the league in points per game with 25. He also was named Big East Player of the Week following a 25-point game in which Rodriguez was perfect from the field in the first half and had five threes.
Kevin Willard knows when Rodriguez is feeling his shot.
“He got two post-ups, and that really got him going. In some games in the past, he has missed a three to start,” Willard said after a Jan. 7, 87-56 win over DePaul, Rodriguez’s 25-point performance. “I think the two easy looks Angel [Delgado] gave to him on the post-up kind of really got his motor going. When he sees one goes in, he starts firing. I thought he played tremendously. I also thought he played very good defensively.”
Rodriguez has been active on defense this season, ranking seventh in the Big East in total steals with 18, tied with fellow teammate Madison Jones.
Unfortunately for the team, Rodriguez’s increased production has been spearheaded by the team’s busy schedule. Players such as Khadeen Carrington have taken dips in their scoring averages, and a combination of this with the team’s travel has led to a 2-4 record for Seton Hall in conference play.
As the team struggles to get consistent contribution from multiple players, Willard has said he knows the team will show fight again since they are home after a three-game road trip. Even in a 76-46 beating against No. 1 Villanova, Rodriguez was able to contribute, leading the team with 15 points, contributing three treys.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @eswint22.