Throughout the course of conference play, teams are going to experience highs and lows, especially in a power conference like the Big East where no game is a walk in the park.
Some nights, teams come out on fire and full of energy on both ends of the court. Others, teams come out sluggish and deflated.
That was the case for the Seton Hall on Jan. 9, as a trip to Milwaukee to take on Marquette turned into a nightmare for the Pirates. Unable to match Marquette’s defensive intensity and hot shooting, Seton Hall was handed an 84-64 loss, their largest of the season.
Notably quiet in the Hall’s loss to Marquette was sophomore shooting guard Myles Powell, who finished the night with eight points. It was an atypical performance for Powell, as the normally active guard was drained due to a bout with the flu that he had been dealing with since the beginning of Seton Hall’s road trip to Butler the previous week.
It was a disappointing two-game stretch for Powell, but a return to the Prudential Center was what the doctor ordered, as a rejuvenated Powell came to play against Georgetown on Jan. 13. In Seton Hall’s first home game since Dec. 31, Powell scored 19 points while remaining active on defense, coming away with six steals and five rebounds.
“Coach has been telling me to bring the energy on defense and get back on defense,” Powell said following the 74-61 over the Hoyas. “He said I’ve been lacking a little and I haven’t been rebounding as much, so today I came in, wanted to rebound and be great on the defensive end.”
Powell also found his way back into the swing of things on offense, leading the team with a season-high 16 field goal attempts. Saturday’s game marked the first time that Powell led the team in shots, something his teammates and coaches want to see more out of him moving forward.
“Coaches and the four seniors came to me and told me to shoot the ball,” Powell said. “They didn’t like my performance against Marquette and they said I wasn’t bringing the energy, so that’s what I did today and it worked.”
Billed as a sharpshooter, there is much more to Powell’s game than just his three-point stroke. When Powell is locked in, he is a high-energy impact player on both ends of the floor and provides the spark that the veteran-laden Seton Hall team needs on a nightly basis.
“When Myles plays with this enthusiasm, it’s infectious,” coach Kevin Willard said. “That’s the way he’s been playing all year and when he plays this way, we’re a much better basketball team.”
When Powell is on his game, Seton Hall looks one step ahead. Regardless of whether his shots are going in, opposing teams must account for Powell’s three-point prowess at all times. This opens things up for the Seton Hall offense as Powell has the ability to put the ball on the floor, drive the lane and kick the ball out for a better shot when defenders close out hard on him. If defenders choose to sag off and give Powell room to operate, chances are he will make them pay with a bucket from beyond the arc.
Defensively, Powell plays tight on-ball, in-your-face defense when he is at his best. He gives opposing ball handlers no breathing room, forcing turnovers in the process. Powell is just as dangerous as an off-ball defender, getting out in the passing lanes to force deflections and steals, as he was able to do against Georgetown.
As Big East play carries on, the Pirates will need Powell to be on his A-game each time out. Playing in one of the most physical conferences in the country is grueling, but when things get tough, Seton Hall can look to Powell to provide the spark necessary to keep grinding.
Seton Hall will go as far as their starting five takes them but at the end of the day, all eyes will be on the veteran core four of Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Ismael Sanogo and Angel Delgado when March rolls around. However, it could be the sophomore from Trenton who makes the difference in this team as just another successful Seton Hall team or one of the greats in program history.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.