Tuesday, Jan. 17 was supposed to be an off day for the Pirates.
Kevin Willard wanted to give his guys some rest. Seton Hall had just wrapped up a six-day, three-game and three-loss road trip, ending the skid with a 76-46 loss to No. 1 Villanova the night before. The coach had no intention of rushing the Pirates back to the practice court.
Khadeen Carrington had other plans, though.
The junior guard made it a point to get back in the gym on Tuesday night, and he brought company.
The road trip was harsh on freshman Myles Powell. SHU’s sniper looked lost at times, averaging 5.7 points while shooting 17.2 percent from the floor and 13 percent from deep during the three-game losing streak. He missed what would have been a game-winning buzzer beater at Marquette on Jan. 11 and had just two points against Providence on Jan. 14.
“The three games that we just lost probably were my worst three games I ever played in my life,” Powell said.
Carrington, aware of Powell’s struggles, declined to take the day of rest and relaxation offered by Willard. He got Powell – and a few others – back to work right away. He also had a heart to heart with his younger teammate.
“I just tried to talk to him,” Carrington said of Powell. “You know, he’s a freshman – nobody really ever did it to me when I was a freshman. I just tried to use my experience and help those younger guys out.”
Whatever Carrington said, it must have worked. Powell ended his slump on Sunday, Jan. 22, scoring 19 points on 7-12 shooting against St. John’s. It was just his second time in double figures in the Pirates’ last nine games.
Sunday also ended Seton Hall’s slump, as St. John’s fell 86-73 at The Rock. It was a convincing and much-needed bounce-back win.
Seton Hall found itself in a similar position last season, losing at Villanova before getting torched at home by Creighton in early January.
Back then it was Derrick Gordon who commanded the Pirates’ locker room, calling a players-only meeting before the team found its way again.
This year Carrington has proven to be the leader, a responsibility he said he placed upon himself. He added the team’s other juniors – Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo – have all been more vocal, but it was Carrington who took accountability and sent his team a message after the 30-point loss to the Wildcats.
“The message?” Carrington echoed when asked what he told the Pirates between the Villanova and St. John’s games. “‘We can’t get our ass kicked anymore. This league is tough and if you don’t come to play every night you know you’re going to get chewed up and spit out.’ That’s basically what I tried to tell them.”
Seton Hall seemed to respond on Sunday, doing away with its typically slow starts. More challenges await on the conference slate, though. Carrington wants to make sure the Pirates know what’s coming.
“Every game somebody’s gonna be coming at us,” he said ahead of Seton Hall’s game against No. 11 Butler University on Wednesday night. “We won the Big East last year, we beat a lot of people. So every game people are gonna come at us. We’re a good win for people.”
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GaryHPhillips.