In October, Kevin Willard said Seton Hall had to get to the NCAA tournament for the 2015-16 season to feel like a success. Reaching the field of 68 is something the Pirates have not done since Willard took over in 2010, most recently falling from the top 25 to the wrong side of the bubble after a promising 13-3 start to the season.
Last year’s freshman-laden squad has been a little more consistent through conference play this season, though very much on the bubble as Jerry Palm currently sees the field of 68 with no room for bad losses. St. John’s was supposed to be an easy win for this team heading into a pivotal four-day stretch with games against Providence and Xavier. Winning either, or both, of those games puts Seton Hall on much firmer ground in the tournament picture. But a bad loss at St. John’s, a team that just notched its first conference win of the season, could change the Pirates’ entire postseason outlook.
Seton Hall’s 62-61 win counts as a win but it’s hard to find positive takeaways from this game. St. John’s stormed back from a 19-point deficit to take the lead in the second half to tie the game and even hold a lead in the final minutes but did so in spite of awful free throw shooting (10-for-24). Speaking of fouls, Angel Delgado fouled out, along with Ismael Sanogo and Rashed Anthony. Once Delgado and the other key bigs were fouled out, St. John’s found some success, on set plays and even more so on the offensive glass thanks to plays from Kassoum Yakwe and Yankuba Sima.
The officiating in the final minutes was clunky, the plays were worse and then the game ended with a scrum on the floor after the postgame handshakes. I don’t condone fighting at all, but the ending seemed appropriate for the general vibe of this Big East contest.
Fight broke out on the court after the game. pic.twitter.com/PT99s24GAP
— Emily Van Buskirk (@Emilnem) February 21, 2016
St. John’s lost a great opportunity to notch a confidence-building win against a possible tournament team and Seton Hall’s tournament plans remain unchanged. We can’t erase this game from the record officially, but Seton Hall needs to show a different level of play and consistency in performance to have a chance at knocking off either of its next two Big East foes.