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Ish Sanogo: The Game Changer

The hype may be on the likes of Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington, but Ismael Sanogo is a key cog for the Seton Hall Pirates.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Seton Hall vs Creighton William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s world of college basketball fans, are so interested in seeing which players have the best stats, or which players make the most ESPN Top 10 worthy plays. Seton Hall has been fortunate to have these types of players which have contributed to their early success currently standing with a record of 10-3.

Angel Delgado has been phenomenal recording nine double doubles through the first 13 games, and every Pirate game features at least one momentum-changing slam dunk from Desi Rodriguez.

It is important to realize in basketball these are not the only players that have an impact on a teams performance. Seton Hall’s version of this type of player has become Ismael Sanogo. The junior forward stands at 6-6 with a very lean frame and appears to be nothing overly imposing. Coming out of high school, Sanogo was only ranked as a three-star recruit.

Sanogo worked very hard over the summer entering his sophomore year getting stronger, and focusing on his strengths after a relatively quiet freshman season. He is not a player that will be a standout offensively. Over the summer Sanogo spent a lot of time in the gym working on his mid-range jump shot, but it appears his nagging shoulder injury from last year continues to keep his scoring production low.

With that being said, Sanogo is the definition of a role player. His defense played a big role in the Pirates winning the Big East Tournament title last season and making it to their first NCAA tournament in nine years. He has not let up on his defense one bit this season.

Many Pirate fans refer to Sanogo as the team’s “glue guy.” Whenever he is present on the court it seems as though the team has success. Seton Hall has lost two games this season, one was a close battle to Florida and the other was a 15 point loss to Stanford. In the loss to Stanford, Sanogo was injured and his absence was clearly present as the Cardinal converted on multiple open shots throughout the game.

I have always understood the importance of Sanogo on defense, but it was not until I sat in the first row behind the basket at the Garden State Hardwood Classic against Rutgers that I truly appreciated the role Sanogo plays. Seton Hall came out of the locker room at halftime down by nine, but the Pirates went on to outscore Rutgers by 22 points in the second half.

Sanogo was a huge reason as to why the Pirates came back in the second half. He effectively found position and boxed out, which led him to record a career-high 16 rebounds, with many of them being defensive rebounds which limited second opportunities for the Scarlet Knights offensively.

In the first half, RU had their way offensively, driving to the rim for easy layups and were able to kick out for open 3-point jumpers. Ish put an end to those things in the second half. Whenever it appeared a Rutgers player had a clear path to the rim, Sanogo was there to take the charge.

When it seemed as though RU had an open man down low or an easy pass in transition, Sanogo found a way to deflect the ball to destroy Rutgers offensive flow. At some points, it appeared as though a Scarlet Knight had a wide open jump shot on the perimeter, but there was Sanogo at 6’9 closing out on guards all the way out.

On any given night, Ismael Sanogo can slow down any of the Big East’s best offensive players. Whether it be Josh Hart, Marcus Foster, Trevon Bluiett, Andrew Chrabascz or others, this is why Sanogo is Seton Hall’s X-Factor.