Plenty of problems have plagued Seton Hall in its recent four-game losing streak, but none of those problems are more concerning than the Pirates’ alarming turnover rate over the past two weeks.
Prior to the mid-season skid, Seton Hall had turned the ball over 53 times in its first four Big East games. Fifty-three turnovers in such a short span is not ideal, but it’s also not terrible for a young and inexperienced team going through conference play together for the first time. Since then, things have taken a turn for the worse, as ball security has gone out the window.
Beginning with a loss to No. 21 Marquette, Seton Hall turned the ball over 68 times in four of its last five games, including a 22-turnover performance against Providence and 18-turnover showing against Villanova (14 of those turnovers coming in the first half alone). Teams have taken full advantage of the Pirates’ turnover woes, scoring 76 points off turnovers throughout the four-game stretch.
Seton Hall’s problems taking care of the ball were exemplified in the loss to Villanova. The Pirates turned the ball over on their first two offensive possessions and from there it only got worse. Seton Hall wound up turning the ball over on six of its first nine possessions, and eventually the number grew to 12 turnovers in its first 20 possessions. Turnovers were so problematic on the afternoon that Myles Powell finished the game with more turnovers (seven) than points (three), rebounds and assists combined. Quincy McKnight also turned the ball over four times in the first nine minutes of action.
There’s no doubt that something has to change for Seton Hall moving forward, but what can coach Kevin Willard do to help his team out of their recent turnover funk? The solution may be on the bench, as freshman Anthony Nelson possesses the true point guard skills to come in and help facilitate the offense efficiently. McKnight has been great on both ends of the floor for Seton Hall this season and he is a better distributor than Khadeen Carrington, but he is still not a true point guard. McKnight averages almost as many turnovers per game (3.1) as assists (3.8). Seton Hall needs a true facilitator running the show to help set up the likes of Powell and Myles Cale on the wing, while also working it down low to Michael Nzei and Sandro Mamukelashvili.
“That’s something I’ll really have to look at moving forward,” Willard said of working Nelson into the rotation in an increased role. “You can’t have your starting backcourt have 12 turnovers. I’m going to have to look at different combinations and maybe give him a little more time with the starters or just maybe get him out there with different lineups.”
Seton Hall snapped its losing streak on Wednesday night with a win over Providence, but still turned the ball over 19 times. If the Pirates want to make a run and secure an NCAA Tournament bid, they will have to clean up their act on offense.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.