"We wish Jaren the ultimate best," Willard said Thursday, on the Big East's biweekly coaches conference call. "He is a terrific young man, I enjoyed coaching him every second, he was a great representation, he’s gonna find success wherever he goes.
"Obviously we’d love to still have Jaren on the team, but most importantly I’m excited for Jaren that he’s gonna get an opportunity somewhere where he’s gonna play basketball and he’s gonna have a great education. He’s nothing but the best and I love the kid to death. So that’s the only thing I have to say about that."
Sina left the program less than 24 hours after Seton Hall's 86-67 defeat to Georgetown, the Pirates' third loss in a row. Willard kept the locker room closed to reporters after the game, leading to speculation about friction on the team.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Lake Hopatcong, N.J., was an important player -- starting 23 of 24 games, averaging 7.0 points and the second-most minutes on the team (32.2).
I think Stephane [Manga] and Haralds [Karlis] are gonna have to get more time," Willard said. "Everyone’s gonna have to step up a little bit and fill in those minutes, cause it is a big gap. But we have guys -- we’ve had injuries and we stepped up. And now we have to replace a lot of minutes, and obviously a fine young man and a terrific player. But that’s things that you gotta deal with, and guys have to step up, and I have a lot of confidence that these guys will."
Seton Hall opened the season 12-2, and was ranked as high as No. 19 in the country. But the Pirates have now lost six of their past eight games, and play their next three on the road -- at Providence, No. 6 Villanova and St. John's.
"The mood and the attitude of the team is pretty good," Willard said. "Everyone’s just frustrated that they’re losing. And when you lose for the first time as a group, it’s tough. But I’ve been really happy with some of the guys battling back and coming back and getting ready to focus on this three-game stretch."