Seton Hall is full of players that can change a game. Angel Delgado can dominate a team inside. Myles Powell can shoot unconsciously from three. Desi Rodriguez can take advantage of any matchup.
The missing link has been Khadeen Carrington, who has been quiet offensively this season compared to numbers he has put up in the past.
Heading into the Jan. 31 matchup against Providence, the senior had made just one three-pointer in his last five games and was having a difficult time breaking double-digits in scoring.
Often, coach Kevin Willard has said a low-scoring Carrington does not mean an ineffective Carrington. With the senior transitioning into the point guard role this season, Willard sees positives when Carrington puts his teammates first.
Still, there are games where Carrington struggles both scoring and setting up his teammates, and the impact is clear. The connection was brought to light when Carrington was forced to the bench during the Feb. 4 game with No. 1 Villanova on Feb. 4. After picking up his fourth foul in the second half, the senior had to watch his team’s momentum die while he was on the bench.
“When you don’t have your point guard out there for some good, solid six minutes, it just kills your whole rhythm offensively and defensively,” Willard said.
Carrington’s 10-point, four-assist performance against Villanova came off arguably his best game of the season, when he put 23 points, seven assists and three steals against Providence on Jan. 31. In that game, Carrington had the hot hand, setting up his teammates and hitting three three-pointers. It was flashes to both what Carrington has been in the past and what he could be with consistency.
“This is important,” Powell said of Carrington after the 73-57 home victory. “It’s great for one of top guys to get his mojo back, but really as long as we’re getting it done it doesn’t matter who steps up.”
Different players have stepped up, but that does not always lead to wins. Carrington’s presence in controlling tempo was missed against Villanova, capping a week where his impact was the clearest it has been this season.
“I think Khadeen was doing a great job the whole game,” Delgado said. “So, losing him gave those guys a lot of comfort. The other team saw that; Jalen [Brunson] having a little guy on him, he just went to work.”
The top team in the nation will be sure to exploit weaknesses, and for that stretch, the weakness was a mismatch and a team without its court leader.
Seton Hall can win without Carrington, but this past week showed how much he is missed when he does not contribute. Carrington is averaging 14 points per game this season, but the team is 4-0 when he scores 20 points or more.
As Powell alluded to after the Providence game, Seton Hall has the weapons that can step up when a player is having an off night, but the Pirates have their best shot in the Big East when Carrington’s confidence is evident. He shines when he is not afraid of his shot and finds his teammates for open looks.
“I think he’s been playing great all year,” Willard said. “I just think he’s struggled at times making shots. I think it’s going in every time he shoots it, and he’s got to keep on shooting it.”
Other players have filled in for his production, but Carrington’s confidence shines the most when he sees his shot falling. The games against Providence and Villanova reaffirmed that, and in Big East play it takes even more precedent.
Players like Delgado, Rodriguez or Powell having big nights are good indicators of a win, but a confident night from Carrington is the biggest one of all.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.