Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Seton Hall Continues Hot-Streak, Sets Up Third Meeting With Villanova
By DENNIS CHAMBERSNEW YORK — In a familiar position, win or go home at Madison Square Garden, Seton Hall did what they do best.
The Pirates notched their fifth straight Big East Tournament victory Thursday afternoon by upending Marquette 82-76. However, by beating Marquette, Seton Hall will next put their winning ways to the test. On Friday the Pirates will meet Villanova for the third time this season, this time in the Big East Tournament semifinals.
Happy to extend his season, head coach KevinWillard finds his team’s matchup with the defending national champions as a catch-22.
“It’s like waking up on Christmas,” Willard said. “You’re all excited, you go down, you open up the present and you’ve got a bunch of coal.”
Willard’s dampered mood is due to the fact that Villanova has handled the Pirates twice so far this season. First winning 76-46 at The Pavilion and then 92-70 in the rematch at the Prudential Center. Along with their own woes against the Wildcats, Willard also was in the building Thursday when Villanova dismantled St. John’s in a record-tying blowout 108-67.
However, winners of eight games in their last 10 tries, Seton Hall is playing at different level then they were the last time the two teams squared off. The Pirates have a good track record playing against Villanova with their backs against the wall, and guard KhadeenCarrington believes his team will give their A-game Friday after two sub-par outings.
“There’s not really a no next time tomorrow,” Carrington said. “Matter of fact, I’ll say that we didn’t give it our best shot the first two times … We never come in saying we can’t beat somebody, that’s never the case.”
While Carrington and his fellow upperclassmen – DesiRodriguez and AngelDelgado – will likely step up to their usual contributions against Villanova, the key to a victory in their third try at the national champions could come from a freshman.
MylesPowell lit up The Garden in his Big East Tournament debut, scoring 17 points and connecting on three shots from beyond the arc. He believes he can be the difference maker this time around against the Wildcats.
“First two times I really didn’t do that well against Nova,” Powell said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we got blown out. They keyed in on Angel, a big part of our offense. When I’m hitting shots it’s opening it up for everybody. I’m gonna come in tomorrow and try to do the same thing I did today.”
The stage is set for the Big East championship rematch from last season. At Madison Square Garden the Pirates feel their most comfortable though, and Rodriguez is sure to relish in that feeling once again.
“This is where I’m from,” Rodriguez said. “This is where Khadeen’s from, Angel’s from the Bronx as well. This is a big stage for me to play at, in front of my family and my friends, people who push me and want me to do good. I just want to play well and put on a show for them.”
As the saying goes, “third time’s a charm.” Powell and his teammates are ready for their lucky shot at notching another Big East Tournament victory against the Wildcats.
“We definitely want another crack at them for what they did to us these past two games,” Powell said. “We’re gonna get back, rest up, watch a couple of films and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Photo: Seton Hall Athletics
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