Streaking Seton Hall looking to end poor run against Butler

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Winners of four straight, sitting third in the Big East and in the hunt for a ranking, Seton Hall (17-6, 7-4) hosts a Butler (16-7, 5-6) team that was once ranked before getting off to a slow start in league play.

Coming in at 31st in the latest Coaches and AP polls, the Hall is trying to turn around a rough 1-4 run of games against the Bulldogs since they joined the Big East. If they’re able to do so, that’ll be five-straight in the conference. No Pirate team has won five league games in a row since 2009 and that streak has an asterisk: Rutgers (2x), DePaul and St. John’s were all sub-100 teams.

Chris Holtmann’s guys scored close to 80 in both wins last season but they’ll be going up against a much tougher defensive bunch in blue that have jumped to 19th in defensive efficiency and 16th in effective field goal defense (eFG%) after a good showing against Georgetown on Saturday night.

Still, Willard isn’t content.

“I’m going to be a little critical — I don’t think we’re as good defensively as we need to be or can be,” said the Pirate boss after his team held Georgetown to 61 and .87 points per possession, their second lowest total this season.

“We’re throwing some zone in there at times, I think we’ve got to get better at zone. If you’re going to play guys [35 MPG] it’s a good chance to give them a break. I think we played 3 possessions of zone tonight and again we gave up 13 offensive rebounds; we need to get better on the defensive boards. Which we can, we’ve been focusing on it. Their guards did a good job of rebounding I thought, which hurt us early.”

It will be interesting but perhaps predictable how the Hall’s personnel this year matches up with Roosevelt Jones (14.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 4.9 apg), who is more of a bull than anything (Khadeen Carrington has described him as a linebacker), while leading scorer Kellen Dunham (16 ppg, 2.3 rpg) can of course shoot from deep (he has nearly double the 3PAs of any teammate) but also create. Sounds like a job for Derrick Gordon.

Up front, the battle between Angel Delgado, Ish Sanogo & Co. vs. Tyler Wideman and Kelan Martin will be a focal point too. Martin is averaging 22 ppg & 6.6 rpg over his last five while Delgado is on the same level with 16.5 ppg & 13.7 rpg over his last four — something has to give.

When in possession of the basketball, I’m looking to see how the Hall rebounds from a poor shooting effort against the Hoyas. Isaiah Whitehead was a few made jumpers away from having a great game while Veer Singh and Carrington were off the mark. Butler is good but not great across the KenPom spectrum defensively and could provide an opportunity for a more fluid game than what we saw Saturday.

The Bulldogs have won three of their last four after starting the Big East 3-6, although DePaul, St. John’s, and Marquette aren’t the toughest of the lot. Chris Holtmann seems to have picked up where Brandon Miller left off in terms of having the better of Willard anywhere but Madison Square Garden and will look to continue the program’s dominance and stay in the NCAA hunt along the way.

KenPom says: No. 30 Seton Hall 78, No. 40 Butler 72 (70%)

Series history (Butler 4-1):

Jan. 25, 2015, Butler 77, SETON HALL 57, Indianapolis, IN
Jan. 13, 2015, Butler 79, SETON HALL 75 (ot), Newark, N.J.
March 12, 2014, SETON HALL 51, Butler 50, New York, N.Y.
March 8, 2014, Butler 71, SETON HALL 54, Indianapolis, IN
Jan. 29, 2014, Butler 64, SETON HALL 57, Newark, N.J.

Projected Butler starters:

Roosevelt Jones (14.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 4.9 apg)
Kellen Dunham (16 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
Andrew Chrabascz (10.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Kelan Martin (15.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
Tyler Wideman (8.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Projected Seton Hall starters:

Isaiah Whitehead (16.2 ppg, 4.7 apg)
Khadeen Carrington (14 ppg, 2.6 apg)
Desi Rodriguez (11.5 ppg, 5 rpg)
Ismael Sanogo (4.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
Angel Delgado (10.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg)

Time: 6:30et, Wednesday
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: AM 970
Opening line: Seton Hall -3

  • Joe Schmoe

    Chris you left out the most important part. Will they or will not be wearing the uni’s with script lettering?

    • Louie Dee

      Lol Great question

    • LBP

      Why change now– Butler really needs this game and are physical–Hall has to be ready and Desi may be the key

      • Fishjam

        I agree on Desi. Desi and Khadeen need to contribute tonight in ALL aspects of the game. Desi has been hit or miss the last few weeks and Dino has been in a funk the last 3-4 games. Need them both to play good defense tonight as they will have to guard some big scorers at times. I don’t like Dino on Jones as he’s just too big and physical. If Dino is on Dunham he has to hustle on D and fight through all of the screens try set. Takes a lot of energy and hustle to guard Dunham so all 3 guards and maybe Desi will get time guarding him. Desi will be on Kelin Martin who is a a lot like Desi offensively but a little bigger and a better shooter. If they put Ish on Martin, Desi will have to defend one of their 2 PFs in Wideman or Charbasc (sp?).

  • Louie Dee

    Gordon mentioned in the post game interview that he was hurting and pretty beat up from the game. Do you guys think he’s recovered? We need him tomorrow.

    • iratepirate

      He’s what? 22. The game was on Saturday. He should absolutely be rested by tomorrow unless he got hurt in the GT game (which I didn’t hear). That will not be an excuse if we lose tomorrow. I agree that if the team needs to slip into zone for a few minutes late in the first half that wouldn’t be so bad. I don’t like the idea late in the game since you have to hold the other team and stop them from getting momentum. Best time to utilize zone is when you are up on the scoreboard and nearing the end of the half. We’d be much better off if we had a suitable 4th guard off the bench that could handle 2 minutes a game.

      This game is all about defense. Stifle Butler and we will win.

      • Matty P

        Agreed they shouldn’t drop back into zone often unless as you mentioned there is a large lead, end of the half, or if the 3 guards start to get into foul trouble. This team is too athletic to just sit back in zone and allow teams to find the weak spots for open shots.

    • Joe Schmoe

      He literally took a beating on Saturday night. He was hit a lot, knocked down a lot.

  • Matty P

    For anyone still looking to go to the game SHU sent out an email this morning with a promotional code for 2 for 1 tickets when you purchase them off ticketmaster. For anyone who didn’t get the email the promotional code is TMN241 which you will enter while picking your seats. Hope to see a large crowd there for the game to support the team.

  • Andrew Herbst

    Tomorrow will be a tough game. Butler’s a very smart and physical team. We need to come out with the same level of intensity on defense. If we do that, we can definitely win. This is a big game and hopefully the fans are as loud as Saturday night.

  • WilponsStinkLessNow

    Talk about two teams on a collision course, Butler and SHU have pretty much identical records against the BE (except Butler lost to Marquette), they both have played a front-loaded conf schedule, they both have a very capable starting 5 and rebound well, but Butler is a slightly better offensive team while the Pirates are slightly better defensively. The only noticeable edge goes to Butler in terms of FT shooting, since they shoot the same number of FTs as the Hall but make them at a 73% clip compared to the Pirates’ 64%. Pirates win this game and they cement their standing among the conference’s elite teams.

  • VinBick

    Will stop at the pizza joint on Mulberry Street a couple blocks south of the Rock, across from the Post Office before the game to insure another victory! Pirates are 9-0 when I secure a pepsi and plain slice there before games.

    Our Pirates are on a mission; put this game in the “W” column. No respect shown by those voting in the polls. Joe L is a wacko. This is not a “last four in team” by any means. Why is W State ahead of the Hall? They would be just ahead of the Johnnies in the Big East.

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      I’m a hot wings at Dino guy myself, but I did have a pastrami sandwich at Hobby’s a couple weeks back and that place is a gem. Keep what your doing though bc it’s working.

  • Fishjam

    I like the idea of playing a little zone to give guys a breather every now and then. The 5 regulars (minus Desi) all played 30+ minutes and they were dragging at the end of the G’Town game. If they are going to keep playing guys 35-38 minutes a night, you have to look for opportunities to Zone a little.

    I think they should Zone when Dunham is on the bench as he’s too good of a shooter to not put a man in his face. Roosevelt Jones is an absolute tank and looks to penetrate and dish or penetrate and shoot when he has the ball. He will not even think about shooting a long jumper.

    Zone takes a lot of discipline. The things I worry about when the Pirates zone are 3s from the top if they sag off too much, 3s from the corner when Desi or Veer get out of position and defensive rebounding when we fail to put a body on people and box out. Butler’s perimeter players are all big and will crash the boards.

  • WilponsStinkLessNow

    High praise from the Butler HC: “They’re probably the most athletic team in our league, or at least close,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “Their defense is basically top two in our league. They’re a terrific rebounding team. They’re talented, and they play well together. And they play very, very hard.”

    http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/college/butler/2016/02/09/butler-enters-critical-week-ncaa-tournament-hopes/79898730/

  • SHULaw05

    Truly hope the Seton Hall community packs the Rock tomorrow night to support our Pirates! This team deserves all the support we can provide. Time to get loud! Go Pirates!

  • Jersey Jerry

    BIG game tonight ~ with Creighton’s win last night over #4 Xavier (70-56) ‘da Hall HAS to get the “W” tonight. With a month to go till the BET @ MSG the early ‘mock bracket’ by Stewart Mandel has ‘da Hall as ‘LAST 4 IN’ and Butler as ‘First 4 Out’ … can’t make a mistake tonight as this is a ‘make or break’ game. Trust those 9K fans we saw last weekend will be in ‘da house tonight as our 6th man is very very important. GO HALL!!! It’s our time to shine!!!

    • WilponsStinkLessNow

      I can’t believe Xavier blew that game last night. We need the elites to keep busting the mid conf guys down, and Xavier blew a good chance to do that last night. I watched the first half and X made the classic mistake of settling for fade away jumpers to start the game, which they missed, and no one rebounded. The drought allowed Creighton time to hit a few big shots, take a big lead, and then just sit on the arc and look for their shot all night.

      Good thing about the Hall this year is they don’t sit on the perimeter all game like they used to, and they don’t settle for fade away jumpers like X did last night. The ability to get to the rim, coupled with great rebounding, allows this team to generate offense all game long, and it just gets easier later in the game as the other team piles up fouls. I like this team’s chances this year, but tonight is another big test.

      • Joe Schmoe

        The great teams are going to have bad nights. They are outliers and not telling of the big picture. The Hall on the other hand needs to win tonight to stay in the “relevant” conversation.

  • WilponsStinkLessNow

    I read somewhere the other day that the Pirates have a number of guys who made Dean’s List recently, including Des, Isaiah, Ish, Angel and DG, and overall the team has a really high GPA. I wonder if these guys are serious about finishing school and staying here 4 years. Can you imagine how good this team would be? I hope so.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Considering none of the mentions are true NBA draft stock potential, barring transfers to play elsewhere…i would guess none of them are going anywhere anytime soon.

      • Matty P

        I’m assuming you mean they don’t have NBA draft stock for after this season since Isaiah and Angel have NBA potential and NBA scouts have shown interest in both of them. Isaiah could come out next year and Angel needs to develop a midrange game and work on free throw shooting which probably won’t be fully developed until his senior year.

        Congrats to the players who have made the Dean’s List and the overall high GPA. Shows that the students and staff care about grades and being a true student athlete instead of in other cases where the students are more than happy getting by with the lowest possible passing grade.

  • LBP

    Hard to believe Butler is 3.5 favorite but this is tough match up for the Hall

    • SHULaw05

      Hall is currently favored.. Go Pirates!

  • fouline

    Should win in a walk… then walk right into the top 25!

  • Fishjam

    Not a good 1st half. Pirates look tentative and lethargic (except Whitehead). Too many sloppy turnovers, a half-step late on defense and standing around too much on offense and on the glass. If it weren’t for Whitehead’s absolutely insane shooting, we’d be down double-digits right now. Need to consider themselves lucky and put in a better effort. Step it up on D, especially on Martin, start boxing out on the defensive boards and get the ball in the paint on offense. Even Gordon has been a step late or out of position on defense a few times. Ish has been silent and has missed a couple of easy bunnies. Need him & DG to get active and make things happen like usual. Let’s go Pirates…need this one!

  • Fishjam

    Butler is beating them in all of the hustle areas….offensive rebounds, loose balls and creating turnovers. Pirates need to step it up…need to leave it all on the court….they have a week off after tonight.

    • LBP

      Why they take Games off is just mind blowing– they were not into it–sad big opportunity

      • fouline

        LBP, I like this team a lot. Best in years… years. But they are not that good. Also our fearless leader had no answers as usual. He didn’t make the adjustments necessary with this group of talented players to win.

        • LBP

          Fouline–I think everyone on this Board likes this Team and would submit it has the best potential in years.
          I get upset because I think too many excuses are made –( they are tired; they are young; they are in blue sneakers…) The only truth is –when they do not play hard and physically,they are not good. Use the athleticism ,length and speed and get the bench up and in to run and play harder. Just do not take nights off

          • Fishjam

            This team is very likable and is a real joy to watch when they play with vigor and controlled fury. Last night was about mental toughness and maturity. The Big East is tough both physically and mentally. At this point in the season I’m sure they are feeling all of the bumps and bruises and don’t have the same spring in their steps they are used to. But it’s the same for every team on the backstretch of their schedule. It takes a little more concentration and effort to dig down and play hard though you may not be feeling 100%. That is what good teams do because if it were easy everyone would do it.

            Last night the team looked lethargic and complacent while Butler looked focused, determined and played with a strong sense of urgency.

          • LBP

            Fishjam –I mean it when I texted that you and Chris should Team up–again I appreciate your insights–this was going to be a tough match-up as is Xavier–but the Team has to show focus and intensity–fortunately Georgetown is not the pit it was and Team should be restedand hopefully we do not hear they are “rusty”.

          • Fishjam

            Thank you LBP. I appreciate the compliment and I would be honored to be able to contribute. I did try to reach out to Chris to see if he wanted to chat. It’s cool if he’s not looking for any help, I’ll still be here commenting away.

            Angel’s great play lately has been getting some attention. Hopefully, he’s smart enough not to try and come out early and be playing overseas somewhere because I do believe with more improvement he can turn himself into an NBA Power Forward. Check out this article from Zag’s:

            https://www.sny.tv/college-recruiting/news/coaches-scouts-touting-seton-halls-delgado-as-pro-prospect/164117826

          • fouline

            Absolutely right. But I think the team isn’t the problem. They’re capable on all fronts but their problem boils down to coaching. The coach has to get them ready and keep their head in the game. That I think is their big problem.

  • Fishjam

    Fought hard in 2nd half but Butler was too good. Seemed like they just couldn’t miss in the 2nd half. Shot 56% for the game, 50% from 3 and 82% from the line!! Butler seemed to get all of the loose balls and won the rebounding battle too. You simply cannot overcome those numbers, the only reason it was even a game was Whitehead’s 3s in the 1st half.

    Pirates didn’t do a good job with help defense tonight. Many times when Butler drove in the lane, Delgado & Ish took poor angles to help and the simply were able to drive around them. Did a great job battling back but losing possession of the defensive rebound on the missed FT and Roosevelt’s high arcing layup were back-breakers.
    Isaiah drove well in 2nd half and made some great passes. He also had 2 or 3 drives where the ball just seemed to bounce out of the net. He played a great game but he did turn the ball over several times away from the basket.

    Dino’s slump has now reached 5 games and it really hurts. He’s now missed 21 of 26 3-point shots over his last 5! Not having his scoring allows team’s to double on Whitehead more. So many of Dino’s missed 3s are wide-open looks….hope he can get his legs strong over the next week as they really need him. Not a great game for Ish either. He missed too many bunnies under the basket.

    Felt the team did a poor job of getting Delgado involved. Z found him several times in the 2nd half on drive and dishes but they did not get him the ball in the post nearly enough. he’s had an extremley hot hand and he is always sooo much better defensively and on the boards when he is involved offensively.

    Overall tough loss that came at a bad time. A lot of projected brackets had them just slightly ahead of Butler and losing to them isn’t good. It now makes the game at their place a potentially huge game. The schedule the rest of the way is not easy and finding 4 more W’s may be what it takes.

  • Fishjam

    A few weeks ago I was fairly confident that 20-10 (10-8) would get us a NCAA bid but seeing recent projected brackets has me a little concerned. A few prognosticators had us as one of the last 4 in prior to losing to Butler. Last nights result may have put them in and us out.

    I don’t understand why but our RPI dropped all the way to #53. Not sure how that makes sense but that’s an important rating system used by the Commitee. A 3-3 finish wouldn’t do anything to bolster our case especially if we lose again @ Butler. A season sweep would give them a big edge over us. I think we both belong in but they won’t like giving 5 bids to one conference.

    Bottom line is the Pirates need to regain their hunger and intensity and play each of their remaining games with a sense of urgency. Don’t leave our fate in the hands of the Selection Committee, win at least 4 of these 6, it’s very doable. Can’t go through the motions at all and can’t take any half’s off. Starts next week @ Georgetown and will require a better effort than the first matchup with the Hoyas. You bet DSR and company will be looking for payback and it wont be as easy on the road.

    • LBP

      I think 20 wins is the minimum– agree 4-2 is what is needed