Vin Parise of College Basketball Talk caught up with Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who is 1-0 in league after the start of Big East play:
CBT: Let’s start off first with your 81-80 double OT win at Providence on New Year’s Eve.
Willard: Going in I was hoping we could try and steal one if everyone picked up the slack with Eugene Teague being out for us. I was worried about rebounding and how we were going to match up; but we made the right plays down the stretch. I’m really proud of how our guys fought up there on the road.
CBT: 2013 as a whole was filled with several injuries for your program. How challenging has it been to deal with that aspect?
Willard: Last year I could have handled it much better. It was very frustrating times and I let myself get too frustrated. This year I feel I’ve done a better job handling it personally, and so have the players. The games we’ve lost we’ve had multiple guys out – but we’re still a deeper team than we were last season. But you can’t spend time focusing on the things you can’t control. We have to keep the mindset we had up at Providence the other day.
CBT: Before we move past the injuries topic, what is the latest update on Eugene Teague?
Willard: We honestly don’t have a timeline right now for Eugene. We’re following the orders of the doctors and going through the proper concussion protocol. He has been feeling okay and is questionable for our next Big East game.
CBT: Speaking of the Big East, what are your thoughts on this conference as we now know it?
Willard: I think from top to bottom our league is going to be brutal to go through during conference play. I feel Villanova is a step above the pack right now, but even they needed OT to win at Butler who was picked 10th. Road wins are going to be a premium this season for sure. And the new teams that were added are going to be very tough road trips because of their home court atmosphere.
CBT: How about your matchup tomorrow at home vs Creighton?
Willard: Creighton is a very misleading team right now because everyone talks about their offense – and don’t get me wrong, they’re terrific offensively; but not enough people talk about their defense. For a team that puts up the numbers they do, their team defense is really impressive. And the other day was no different when they held Marquette to 49 points. I’m as concerned about us scoring against them, as I am about us defending them. It should be a great game.