Sacred Heart Pioneers (4-8, 0-2 NEC) vs. Holy Cross Crusaders (1-11, 0-0 Patriot)
Game #13 - Sunday, January 2, 2011 - 2:00 pm -Fairfield, CT - William H. Pitt Center (2,100)
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers return to the court on Sunday to open the New Year playing host to the Holy Cross Crusaders. The Pioneers have been off since December 21st when they came up short of an upset bid at Providence, 84-76. This will be Sacred Heart's second opportunity to try and deliver head coach Dave Bike the 500th win of his career. R-Sophomore Shane Gibson is coming off his second-straight game setting a new scoring career-high after dropping 26 points at Providence. Gibson hit 10-of-14 from the field including a career-best six-for-nine from three in the loss to the Friars. His 26 point night came just a day after going for 23 points in leading SHU to a 71-62 win at Yale. The Crusaders carry a 1-11 record under first year head coach Milan Brown into Sunday's match-up, falling at George Washington on New Year's Eve, 58-57. Brown spent seven seasons at Mount St. Mary's where he was 11-4 against Sacred Heart including a 68-55 win in the 2008 NEC Championship game.
Sacred Heart - Holy Cross All-Time Series... This will be the seventh meeting between the two schools with the series tied at three wins apiece. The series dates back to the 1998-99 season while the two schools have met each year since 2007. SHU is 2-0 against the Crusaders at home in the Pitt Center. The Pioneers posted an 82-79 on the road last season.
The Coaches... Dave Bike (Sacred Heart '69) is in his 33rd year as the head coach of Sacred Heart. He has a career record of 499-451, ranking him 20th among active coaches. Only Jim Boheim of Syracuse as spent more time coaching at one institution. He led the Pioneers to eight NCAA Division II tournaments and his 1985-86 team won the national championship while finishing 30-4. Bike was named the national Coach of the Year by the NABC following the title game. Milan Brown (Howard '93) is in his first season as the head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. Brown was named the program's 16th head coach after spending the previous seven seasons at Mount St. Mary's of the Northeast Conference. Brown led the Mount to a 95-120 record and the 2008 NEC Championship.
On the Upcoming Slate... The Pioneers return to Northeast Conference play full-time starting Thursday night at Fairleigh Dickinson. SHU heads to Monmouth on Saturday night. The Pioneers are 0-2 in NEC play this season.
Scouting the Crusaders... The Holy Cross Crusaders are 1-11 with their lone win on the year coming at Marist, 75-57, on December 19th, snapping a eight-game losing streak to open the season. The Crusaders are coming off a one point loss, 58-57, on Friday at George Washington. HC has lost a pair of games to common opponents by less then five points, falling at New Hampshire, 55-52, and at home to Stony Brook, 54-53. The Crusaders are led by junior guard Devin Brown who is averaging 13.1 points per game. Brown has hit 19 three's on the year and has gotten to free throw line 55 times, hitting 47 (.855). Senior center Andrew Keister is averaging 11.0 points per game and is the team's top-rebounder at 7.8 caroms per night. The Crusaders were picked to finish fourth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll with Keister earning a spot on the Preseason All-Patriot League team.
Last Meeting with Holy Cross... Senior Ryan Litke scored 19 points and senior Liam Potter had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds as Sacred Heart came back to defeat Holy Cross on the road, 82-79, last December. A night after coming back from 16 down to defeat Stony Brook, SHU found itself trailing Holy Cross by 11, 58-47, with 11:50 to play in the second half. A 9-0 Pioneer run, capped by a steal and lay-up by senior Corey Hassan cut the Holy Cross lead to 58-56 with 9:44 to go. The Pioneers took the lead on a steal by Chauncey Hardy who hit a cutting Hassan for a 66-65 SHU edge with 5:50 left. SHU took the lead for good on a hook by Potter in the lane for a 68-67 advantage. Holy Cross led 44-39 at the intermission, on the strength of 15-of-26 shooting in the first have. (15-26). SHU used full court pressure in the second half, forcing Holy Cross into 23 turnovers in the game which the Pioneers converted into 32 points. Hassan finished the game with 18 points. Hardy also finished in doubles with 13. R.J. Evans led the Crusaders with 20 points. Eric Meister finished with a double-double for Holy Cross with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Pioneers vs. the Patriot League... This marks the 19th game the Pioneers have played against a Patriot League opponent. SHU is 9-9 against the league - 1-1 against Lafayette, 2-2 against Lehigh, 3-3 against Army and 3-3 against Holy Cross.
Last Time Out... For the second-straight game, Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson eclipsed his career high scoring mark, hitting six-of-nine from downtown on the way to a 26 point night but the Pioneers fell just short of an upset bid losing at Providence College, 84-76 on December 21st. Providence shot 52.8% (28-53) from the field in the win and where led by a double double from Marshon Brooks who finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Pioneers found themselves down 12 with 12 minutes to play in the second half but fought their way back cutting the Friar lead to 77-74 with 1:08 on the clock. SHU's Stan Dulaire caught a follow up dunk and freshman Evan Kelley made a transition lay-up off a steal to pull within three as the Pioneers called time-out. Out of the break, Providence beat the Pioneer press for a Bilal Dixon dunk and then stole the inbounds pass forcing a SHU foul. Vincent Council buried both free throws and the Friars quickly led 81-74 with 40 seconds left to thwart the Sacred Heart threat and escape with the win. Both Gibson and Brooks led their teams in an up-and-down offensive first half. Gibson finished with 16 points in the first half, hitting four-of-six from three as the Pioneers shot 52.9% (18-34). Brooks was equally as impressive with 19 points making seven of nine from the field and all three from behind the arc as the Friars shot 53.6% (15-28) en route to leading 44-41 at the break. The Friars went to the free throw line 31 times, making 20 compared to a three-of-six night at the charity stripe for the Pioneers. The Pioneers made 14 steals in forcing 19 Friar turnovers, leading to 24 points. Jerrell Thompson chipped in with 12 points and three steals for the Pioneers in the loss.
One Away from #500... Head Coach Dave Bike is one win away from his 500th career victory. Bike is in his 33rd season as the head coach of his alma mater and boasts 499 wins on the SHU sidelines. He currently ranks first among active Northeast Conference coaches in all-time wins and 20th on the NCAA list of most career victories by an active coach. Coach Bike ranks second among Division I head coaches who have stayed at the same school for over 20 years. Jim Boeheim from Syracuse heads the list in his 35th season. Bike is followed by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (31), Don Maestri from Troy (29), Greg Kampe from Oakland (27), Rick Byrd, of Belmont (25), Jim Calhoun from Connecticut (25), Ron "Fang" Mitchell of Coppin State (25) and Vann Pettaway of Alabama A&M (25).
#1 vs. Tufts, 102-83, Dec. 2, 1978
#100 at New Hampshire College, 68-66, Feb. 16, 1983
#200 at Keene State, 96-81, Feb. 7, 1987
#300 vs. Franklin Pierce 71, Jan. 12, 1994
#400 at Long Island, 79-73, March 1, 2003
First Win in Division I Era: vs. Cornell, 65-64, Nov. 27, 1999
First Northeast Conference Win: vs. Wagner, 75-70, Jan. 19, 2000
First Division I Post Season Win: vs. Wagner, 100-68, Mar. 1, 2007
Gibson Post Back-to-Back Career Highs... Guard Shane Gibson is coming of his best shooting day in a Sacred Heart uniform, scoring 26 points at Providence last time out. Gibson hit 10-of-14 from the field and a career-best six-of-nine from behind the arc on the night. His 26 point night came just two days after his threw in 23 points and pulled down a eight rebounds in a 71-62 win at Yale. Gibson is now averaging 15.2 points per game, eighth among NEC scorers. He is 29-80 from three, third at 2.42 makes per game.