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Whitehead seeks new beginning with positive vibes

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Isaiah Whitehead believes the power of positivity will bring a new day to the Seton Hall men’s basketball team.

The sophomore guard is trying to ensure nothing but good vibes with the season set to begin.

“I think it is a more positive note,” Whitehead said. “I think last year the way we ended was very, very negative.”

The former Abraham Lincoln star said the team paid too much attention to the negative things around the program late last year as a promising start was floundered by a disastrous finish.

Whitehead, who averaged 12 points per game, missed 10 games with a stress fracture in his foot. Despite his eventual return, Seton Hall lost 12 of its final 15 games.

Much of the blame in the media and from the fan base fell on Whitehead’s shoulders. Chemistry issues reportedly led to the transfer of Jaren Sina and the departure of leading scorer Sterling Gibbs, but that’s all in the past in Whitehead’s mind.

“I just try to put all negatives behind me,” he said. “The negatives shouldn’t stick with you. I think we are just going into the season more positive.”

For the Pirates, that starts with Whitehead’s suggestion that he and his teammates stay off social media once the season begins. No good can come from Twitter, Facebook, etc., they agreed. You get built up when you are winning and torn down when things aren’t going well.

“Last year we didn’t know how to deal with it because most of our team was freshmen,” said guard Khadeen Carrington, a former Bishop Loughlin star. “This year we know how to deal with it.”

Likewise, Whitehead appears to be learning what his role on the team is now. He is increasing his leadership and dedication to making the players around him better with his move to point guard.

The Coney Island native worked out in Las Vegas this summer with fellow former Lincoln standout Lance Stephenson, who plays for the Clippers. He spent time at a camp with NBA most valuable player Stephen Curry in Florida, where he worked on the nuances of being point guard.

“I just tried to go in there and pick his brain as much as possible and just see how he excels on the court, because hopefully I can translate it to my game,” Whitehead said.

Seton Hall was picked by the conference coaches to finish seventh in the Big East, but Whitehead — an all-conference second-team selection — believes the Pirates are an NCAA tournament team. Coach Kevin Willard can see the progress Whitehead has made as a leader, but says now it needs to translate onto the court if his team is going to accomplish its goals.

“When he plays at a high level, he is scary good,” Willard said. “It’s just getting him to understand how to play at that high level is the biggest challenge.”

In order to do that, Whitehead is going to stay positive, and block out any of the negatives around him.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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