Pirates need more threes to return to form
Seton Hall has missed its three-point shot.
The Pirates have lost three of their last four games, going from the No. 13 team in the country and atop the Big East leaderboard to falling out of the AP Top 25 Poll and tumbling to fifth place in the conference with a 4-3 Big East record. In that four-game stretch, the team’s offensive production has taken a dip, averaging 66.3 points per game compared to 81.4 prior.
While field goal percentage saw a slight dip from 48.3 to 42.7 percent, production from three-point range has greatly decreased.
The cold streak came after two of Seton Hall’s most impressive performances from distance. On Dec. 31 in a 75-70 win over St. John’s, the Pirates put up a season-high 13 three-pointers on 44.8 percent shooting from deep. Seton Hall followed that up on Jan. 6 in a comeback road win over Butler, making 11 threes on 50 percent shooting from three.
Those numbers have since plummeted, as on two occasions Seton Hall have made just four three-point shots, with both games resulting in losses. Over the last four games, the Pirates have averaged 5.3 three-pointers per game on 26.8 percent shooting. Before that, Seton Hall averaged 7.4 threes on 37.9 percent efficiency.
Seton Hall’s top three-point scorers – Myles Powell, Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington – have all had their shooting slumps in the past four games. While Powell and Rodriguez have been streaky from distance, Carrington has gone ice cold, missing his last 17 shots from three.
Even though he has not made a three-pointer since making a season-high seven against Butler on Jan. 6, Carrington does not believe he is in a slump.
“It’s not a slump. I’m not going to call it that,” Carrington said after Seton Hall fell to then-No. 11 Xavier on Jan. 20. “I just have to get back in the gym and get reps back up. I’m alright.”
Big man Ismael Sanogo has even picked up some of the production from three-pointers over the last four games, making four threes on 77.7 percent shooting. Before that stretch, he missed seven three-pointers during the season.
“When you’re around a bunch of guys who could score the ball really well, it rubs off on you,” Sanogo said.
While Seton Hall has won games this season with as little as four three-pointers as it did against Vanderbilt on Nov. 24, Big East play draws an increased need for the shot. Currently, Seton Hall is seventh in the Big East in three-point field goals per game, averaging 7.0 per game. Comparing that number to the top in the Big East, the margin is significant, as Villanova and Marquette are top-four in the country in the category and average 11.7 and 11.6 three-pointers per game, respectively.
Seton Hall can make up for that gap with its production in the paint with Angel Delgado, who is averaging 13.4 points per game this season.
That being said, the Oscar Robertson Trophy candidate has stretched out his shot selection to more mid-range shots this season. Still, a focus on producing in the paint can help get Seton Hall’s offensive production back to around 80 points per game.
Even with driving the ball becoming a priority as three-pointers are not falling, Seton Hall has given up many points on turnovers alone. On Jan. 20 against Xavier, Seton Hall allowed the Musketeers to score 21 points off 17 turnovers, something the team cannot do if it wants to get back to winning ways. In addition, bench production has been streaky and Seton Hall is at its best when the ball is moving and all players are involved.
Beyond those factors, three-point shooting will play the biggest part and should be near the top of Seton Hall’s priorities heading into the matchup against DePaul on Jan. 28.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.