Seton Hall’s fall from grace has been a tumble, as the team has slid from the upper half of the AP Top-25 to sixth in the Big East. The Pirates are not living up to expectations of a Preseason Coaches’ Poll that chose them to finish second in the conference, ahead of a No. 4 Xavier that is on its way to a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
As much as fans want to blame it on free throw shooting, that excuse fails to tell the tale of the team’s struggles, as the Pirates made a fairly impressive 9-for-12 from the charity stripe in the loss to Marquette on Feb. 7.
While this area still needs to be refined, one of the most alarming deficiencies is the Hall’s lack of bench production on the offensive end.
The bench has been averaging less than nine points per game during this three-game losing streak, and this has held the Pirates back in their pair of three-point losses to Georgetown and Marquette.
Earlier in the season, bench production played a bigger factor in Seton Hall pulling off wins against VCU and Texas Tech, with the bench scoring 16 and 15 points in those games, respectively.
Shooting struggles have not only hindered the bench, but also the entire team, especially in the first half of games.
“I don’t think I have to make major changes,” head coach Kevin Willard told Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press. “But we have to get our bodies moving quicker in the first part of games.”
Seton Hall’s first-half shooting percentage has plummeted in the recent three-game slide, with a steep decline from the 48.6 percent against the No. 1 Villanova to the 34.3 percent clip against Georgetown. While Seton Hall has a tendency to pick up its play in the final 20 minutes, cold starts are putting the team at a huge disadvantage. The Pirates cannot continue to rely on deficits to energize them.
“We’ve just got to bring it from the beginning, and we’re not doing that right now,” Angel Delgado told Carino. “We only want to pick it up when we see ourselves losing, and that’s not right.”
Whether it’s slowing the game down or finding easier first half shots to get the team confidence and points early, something must change in order to get the Hall focused from the start.
This type of change is not one that will come from the coaching staff, but the players.
“We’ve got to sit down, just the players,” Delgado said. “I think the coaches have nothing to do with this. It’s just us. We’re not getting it done.”
While Delgado and Desi Rodriguez are turning in strong independent season performances, there has been something missing from the man at the control, Khadeen Carrington.
Carrington seems to be lacking his scoring touch during this series as he has failed to make half his shots in a contest, and is shooting just above 33 percent from the floor.
Despite his lack of scoring, Carrington has found ways to get his teammates involved and cut down on turnovers, which is evident in his six assists per game to roughly two turnovers in the recent three-game span. Still, it is not enough from a player of his caliber.
For Seton Hall to rediscover success and reassure fans’ expectations from the start of the season, Carrington will need to find his form and the team will need to play the full 40 minutes. If not, the Pirates have no hope of breathing life back into the season.
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.