BROOKLYN, NY (October 23, 2012) - The Northeast Conference announced the 2012-13 Preseason Coaches Poll and five member Preseason All-NEC team Tuesday afternoon at "Social Media Day" event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Sacred Heart Pioneers were picked sixth in this year's polling of the league's head coaches while r-senior guard Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT) earned a spot on the preseason all-conference team.
Gibson enters his final season in a Pioneer uniform coming off a breakout season where he led the NEC and was fourth in the nation in scoring. One of the most prolific scorers in NEC history, Gibson posted the highest scoring average in the last seven seasons in 2011-12 scoring at 22.0 per game clip. Gibson finished the season with 705 points, a SHU Division I record and tied for the seventh highest in school history. He enters his season with 1,453 career points, tops for SHU in the Division I era and currently 17th on the all-time list.
In NEC games, Gibson was even better last season, averaging 24.9 points per game. He was the league's top-shooter from downtown, making 87 three's and hitting 43.3% of his shots from beyond the arc.
The Pioneers are returning four starters from last season's 14-18 squad. SHU finished 8-10 in the league and claimed the #8 seed in returning to the NEC Tournament after a two-year absence. Gibson will be joined in the backcourt by junior point guard Evan Kelley (Norwalk, CT) who averaged 7.3 ppg last season.
R-Senior center Justin Swidowski (Cinnaminson, NJ) is back after averaging 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a year ago. Juniors Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) and Louis Montes (Brockton, MA) are back and averaged 8.1 and 7.8 points per game, respectively, in 2011-12.
Sacred Heart will open the season playing in the Connecticut 6 Classic when they face with the Yale Bulldogs on Saturday, November 10th at the University of Hartford. SHU will play host to the two-time defending champion LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds in their NEC opener on January 3rd.
The Blackbirds were picked to three-peat this season, receiving nine first place votes. The Robert Morris Colonials were tabbed second, getting three first place votes. The poll was rounded out by Wagner in third, Quinnipiac in fourth, St. Francis (NY) in fifth and SHU sixth. Monmouth, Central Connecticut, Mount St. Mary's, Bryant, Fairleigh Dickinson and Saint Francis (PA) rounded out the poll.
Joining Gibson on the All-NEC presason team was LIU Brooklyn's senior duo of Julian Boyd, the reigning NEC Player of the Year, and Jamal Olasewere, Quinnipiac's Ike Azotam and Robert Morris's Velton Jones.