A quiet Angel Delgado is rare.
Win or lose, the Seton Hall big man is typically a jovial giant after games. Delgado boasts confidence when he talks to the press, much like he does on the court. There is usually a tremendous smile that comes along with whatever it is he has to say. Some would shy away from the cameras and phone recorders that routinely pester him. Not Delgado, though – he always has something to say.
Friday night was different. Friday night he missed the game winner.
“Just missed it,” an upset Delgado repeatedly told a scrum of reporters.
His eyes bloodshot and his grin replaced by a longing frown, the last thing No. 31 wanted to talk about was his failed post move in the final minutes against Villanova, a miss that allowed the Wildcats to advance to the Big East Tournament championship.
“Angel’s like one of my best friends on the team, so seeing him miss that shot and go down like that – I felt like I missed the shot,” Myles Powell said. “It hurt me a lot. It brought some tears to my eyes. It sucks to be on that end of the stick.”
Upon missing, all 240 pounds of Delgado crashed to the Madison Square Garden hardwood as the sound of the buzzer rung in his ears. The Pirates had lost and he was feeling the brunt of it.
Then, something amazing happened.
Villanova’s Josh Hart, who minutes earlier secured the Wildcat win with a typical Hart-style put-back, raced over to Delgado, still lying on the ground. The Pirates couldn’t stand their teammate up, but in an act of true sportsmanship, Hart, a national player of the year candidate, consoled Delgado. The two rivals hugged as Hart tried to ease Delgado’s pain.
After losing to Seton Hall in last year’s tournament championship, Hart knows what this is like.
“I told Angel, ‘You’re a heck of a player and just keep going,’” Hart said. “’You’ve got a bright future. We felt this feeling last year. You have this feeling right now. NCAA Tournament time, don’t have this feeling again.’”
— FS1 (@FS1) March 11, 2017
Back in the locker room, with the scrum having cleared, Delgado sat alone with nothing but his thoughts beside him. He was still devastated over the miss and the loss, but he also realized how out of the ordinary the moment he shared with Hart was.
“That’s great what he did to me,” Delgado told The Setonian. “I really appreciate what he did for me, what he tell me. I’m really going to think about it.”
Delgado, somber as ever, then offered some insight as to why Hart is such a special player.
“It’s not only basketball,” Delgado stated. “[Basketball’s] not why you’re the best player in the country. It’s how you are [as a person, too]. That’s why he’s the best player in the country.”
Gary Phillips can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @GaryHPhillips.