Seton Hall is preparing for the fifth Butler Challenge

<pre><pre>Seton Hall is preparing for the fifth Butler Challenge

The scary thing is that this can get better.

Seton Hall hasn't played his best basketball yet. It is not quite. The young players in the program have not reached their limits.

"I like the way we play defensively, but I think we have a lot of room for improvement offensively," said coach Kevin Willard in a phone interview. "I think it's one thing that we played such a tough schedule that we didn't have a lot of time to aggressively get into a rhythm. We were really defensive."

The numbers support this assessment. No. 18 Seton Hall occupies 10th place on the defensive and 38th place on the offensive. It wins with defense.

On Wednesday night in Indianapolis, the pirates will see a team that will play even better than them when they visit the fifth butler who allows the country's fourth longest points (54.4). The bulldogs were one of the big surprises in college basketball. The team is only half a game behind Seton Hall and has only one defeat, a 1-point setback to 2nd place in Baylor.

"I consider it a big challenge. You are right, really, very good, ”said Willard. "They are so physical in defense. They are defensive as good as I have seen it. They only play their strengths aggressively and Kamar Baldwin plays at a high level.

"They remind me a little of Michigan State, how big and physical they are."

Seton Hall (12-4) enters the game with a very good feeling after losing six consecutive wins and starting the league season 4-0 for the second time in program history.

A lot has changed in the last month. The pirates tumbled as they left Rutgers 20 points behind and star senior Myles Powell would miss the time with a concussion.

Without him, they amazed Maryland No. 17. Since returning to the league season, he has been named Big East Player of the Week with an average of 22.2 points per game in a row. It is equally important that the supporting actors took it up. Sophomore Jared Rhoden and newcomer Tyrese Samuel played well for injured striker Sandro Mamukelashvili (broken right wrist). The Center Romaro Gill is more than just a shot blocker that scores in two consecutive double-digit games. Quincy McKnight's all-round game has improved, as his 9.2 points and 7.5 assists in league play suggest. Everyone contributes.

"The way we play depends on the schedule we played," said Willard. “In the non-conference we played three real street games and only six home games. Nobody else did that. We took a few lumps, it wasn't always nice, but I think it helped us. "

Mamukelashvili underwent a bone exam on his wrist on Monday and Willard said the results were positive. The coach said the junior striker, who still wears a splint on his wrist, is ahead of schedule and can return when pirate host Xavier leaves office on February 1.