- Dana O'Neil, ESPN Senior Writer
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Crawling out of the Big East cellar is about as easy as climbing Mt. Everest without a sherpa -- it's nearly impossible.
Yet, Seton Hall appears to be surfacing from the basement. After an 0-3 start in the league that appeared to signal bad business as usual, the Pirates have won three of their last four, including Sunday's 64-61 upset of No. 11 Pittsburgh. Partner that victory with a win against Louisville -- both games that Seton Hall survived charges from the visitors -- and the Pirates may actually be playing like the team many expected to see in October.
Transfer Herb Pope is giving the Hall something it hasn't had in a long time -- a scoring threat not named Jeremy Hazell. Pope, who grew up 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh and whose original plans to play at Pitt changed after he was shot outside a party in his hometown of Aliquippa, scored 19 and pulled down nine boards against the Panthers. Every point was critical as Hazell, saddled with early foul trouble, only had nine. Pope is averaging a double-double and with him, plus Jeff Robinson (a Memphis transfer) in the mix, Hazell finally has help.
The Pirates are hardly out of the woods -- or the basement -- yet. They are just 3-4 in the league and have visits to Pittsburgh, Villanova and West Virginia remaining on the schedule. But the schedule breaks more favorably than unfavorably. Seven of the Pirates' final 11 games are against the bottom half of the Big East, giving Seton Hall more than ample opportunity to finally climb out of the cellar.