Thursday, January 26, 2017

Butler 61, Seton Hall 54: 5 Thoughts

By Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

Another game vs Butler, another loss vs Butler. The Pirates and Bulldogs engaged in yet another, low-scoring, tough game, and the Bulldogs showed why they are just outside the top-10 by making all the necessary plays down the stretch to win at Prudential Center once again, 61-54.

Here are the 5 Thoughts:


That first half was U-G-L-Y if you like offense. There wasn't much to go around, as both teams' defenses stepped up and played well. Seton Hall shot just 21% in the half, including 1-11 from three, but were only down seven at the break thanks to an 11-3 edge in second-chance points. Butler wasn't great by any means, shooting 35%, but hit 4-10 from deep. They went on a 12-0 run to turn a 5-3 deficit into a 15-5 lead, and Seton Hall was forced to fight uphill the rest of the way.

2. The Turning Point

Trailing by just two with the arena rocking thanks to an inspiring second-half comeback, the Pirates came up with a defensive stop that led to a long pass to an open Desi Rodriguez in transition. Possibly caught between trying to dunk the ball and just laying it up, Desi chose the latter and missed the layup, which would have tied the game. The Pirates were called for a foul on the rebound, leading to the under-4:00 media timeout. After that, the Bulldogs saw Andrew Chrabascz take a charge on Khadeen Carrington, and got Kamar Baldwin open for a three to extend the lead to six points.

You have to wonder what would have happened if the Pirates went into the media stoppage with positive vibes as opposed to the negative ones. I doubt the players would acknowledge it, but that to me was a huge point in the game. Of course, we'll never know what would have happened if the ball dropped in.

3. Delgado's Dominance

Sounding like a broken record here, but yeah- he did it again. Angel Delgado continued to show why he's the best big man in the Big East, and maybe the best rebounder in the nation. 12 points, a career-best 22 rebounds, and with it, he became the first Big East player EVER to have 20 or more rebounds in back-to-back conference games. It's important to note that we are watching a generational big man on campus in South Orange- his stats haven't been rivaled since the late Eddie Griffin roamed the paint in the early 2000s.

However, Angel is 100% about the team winning at the end of the day. When the media mentioned that he had that achievement after the game, he said without hesitation "I feel like I got two rebounds tonight because the team didn't win." Butler coach Chris Holtmann called him a "warrior," and that's the proper adjective. Seton Hall rode Angel hard in their second-half comeback, feeding the ball to him in the post and having him go to work against a solid if underrated Butler front line.

4. The Butler Did It....Again

Butler is to Seton Hall as Seton Hall is to Villanova (anywhere but the Pavilion). For some reason, the Pirates struggle with the Bulldogs more than any other Big East team. Ish Sanogo had a theory on why this is.

"They match our toughness," Sanogo said. "Usually, we feel confident that we can out-tough teams."

That seems like a plausible reason considering the game-by-game history between the two teams, entirely since the Bulldogs joined the conference. Seton Hall is now 1-7 against Butler, and the one win came in the 2014 Big East Tournament by just a single point. This can't last forever, of course- eventually, Seton Hall will solve the Butler puzzle. Until then, however, boy is it frustrating if you're a Pirates fan.

5. Not Done Yet

This was a tough loss for Seton Hall in that it felt like a huge missed opportunity. They had a shot to knock off the #11 team in the country on their home floor, get to .500 in Big East play, and boost their tournament resume. They couldn't get it done, and are now 3-5 in the Big East.

However, there are still 10 Big East games to come, and they are as follows:

- Home games vs Creighton, Xavier, Georgetown, Providence and Villanova
- Road games at Xavier, Georgetown, Butler, St. John's and DePaul

Because the road games are always so difficult, let's focus on the home games. Looking at that remaining schedule, Seton Hall needs to do well at the Rock. One figures they'll be favored to win against Georgetown as well as against Providence. Villanova's issues at Prudential Center the last 4-5 years are well-documented, and Creighton's not been the same without Mo Watson. That leaves Xavier, who the Pirates have a week to prep for after Wednesday's loss, and Seton Hall has done well when they have an extended time to prepare.

Holding serve at home will be important for the Pirates, but they'll have some opportunities to get some quality wins. Despite how nice this win would have been to secure, all is not lost just yet.

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