Saturday, March 16, 2019

Green’s takeaways from a wild Friday night at Madison Square Garden

Photo Credit Ezra Shaw- Getty Images

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

There is something about the majesty of Friday night semifinal games in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden and the latest slate lived up to the billing for more reasons than one. Here are my five takeaways from New York City.

1) Foul night in America:

The Seton Hall Pirates’ 81-79 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles would be overshadowed by a series of technical and flagrant fouls in the second half, which culminated in the ejections of Theo John, Sacar Anim (Marquette) and Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili at the 12:46 mark in the second half.

Even after the ejections, fouls were continued to be called at an unusually high rate, which began to anger fans on both teams in the stands as the flow of the game would be interrupted in what felt like an endless loop.

Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski looked visibly angry and did not want to get into specifics about the officiating.

“I don’t know if I want to get into specifics. It was the most unusual basketball game I’ve ever been a part of, and I feel bad for my kids,” Wojciechowski said. “They’re in there, and they’re sobbing. I wish our kids would have had a chance to decide the game and their kids, too.”

The ejections were deemed to be non-fighting and all parties ejected are eligible to play in their respective teams’ next game.

“From what we ruled on the floor, they do not,” Lead official James Breeding said to Associated Press reporter Mike Fitzpatrick. “Those were not deemed fighting acts. Ejections do not carry over unless the conference office reviews the play and decides to take further action on its own.”

Nine technical fouls and 85 free throws occurred on a game that spanned technically over two days. Not the kind of March Madness anticipated.

2) A range of emotions for Powell:

Myles Powell would not be a factor in the first half as he was held to four points and called for a technical foul, but avoided ejection as he was called for a flagrant as part of the earlier skirmish.

Powell went back to the locker room crying as he assumed an ejection occurred only for one of Seton Hall’s assistants to chase down and inform him to come back out to the floor.

“He just said, “Coach said come back out,” Powell said. “Once I heard that, I’m wiping my tears. Come back out? So, I ran back out and was just happy they gave me a second chance.”

Powell took advantage of the second chance as he re-entered the game to a Willis Reed-like standing ovation and looked like the elite level player once more with 18 of his 22 points in the final 20 minutes of play.

3) Markus Howard’s off night:

Markus Howard had a night to forget as a left wrist injury early led to the junior leaving the game in the first half, but would not be the same player coming back as he struggled going 1-of-15 from the field, but got 18 of his 21 points off free throws.

While the free throw makes appeared to have been normal, Howard’s injury affected his form as he missed a career-high six attempts.

Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard was impressed on the job his defenders did to neutralize Howard.

“[Quincy] has worked really hard and I thought Romaro Gill was really good in the pick-and-roll defense in the second half, just using his length and being big,” Willard said. “I think it helps, when Markus is coming off pick-and-rolls, just trying to make sure he can’t see.”

4) Villanova’s comeback in overtime:

The first semifinal showcased Villanova’s ability to adapt to playing different styles of basketball and grinded its way to a four-point over Xavier in overtime.

In need of extra help outside of Phil Booth’s 28 points, the Wildcats got a clutch play not on offense, but defense with Colin Gillespie’s charge on Naji Marshall on the high post in the wing with 1.6 left in regulation.

Gillespie finished with two points on 1-of-6 shooting, but Wildcats coach Jay Wright didn’t care about the offensive struggles, but the clutch defensive play.

“[Collin] is so valuable to our team. He does all the little things,” Wright said. “Obviously, he’s had big nights scoring. Defensively, he’s always one of the smallest guys on the court, and he’s one of the toughest. That charge was huge, man. That was a big play.”