The Storyline... The Sacred Heart women's basketball team returns to the United States for a Wednesday night clash with Albany after posting a 1-1 record at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas. The Pioneers are 2-3 on the young season but defeated Auburn of the Southeast Conference last Friday to reach the title game of the Junkanoo Jam. Sacred Heart held an early lead but dropped the championship game to Boston College Saturday afternoon in Freeport. SHU is 1-1 at home this season and will play its next five games in the state of Connecticut after a long road trip. Albany enters the contest with a perfect 5-0 record, most recently defeating NEC member Wagner 62-43.
Series... The Pioneers hold an 8-5 edge in the all-time series against the Great Danes. The two sides last met November 28, 2007 with Sacred Heart earning a 64-48 victory at home. Albany has taken three of the last five meetings with the visiting team not earning a win in those games. Oerall the home team has a 10-3 record in meetings between Sacred Heart and Albany.
Tropical Paradise... The Pioneers traveled to the Bahamas for the 2010 Junkanoo Jam, finishing in second place. In the semifinals Sacred Heart knocked off Auburn of the SEC 65-53. The Pioneers led by as many as 30 points and picked up the program's first win over a team from one of the major conferences. Four Pioneers scored in double figures in the victory, led by Alisa Apo's 15 point and six rebound performance. Callan Taylor was named to the all-tournament team, averaging 12.5 points and seven rebounds per game in the event.
Changing it Up... Freshman Ericka Norman made her first two collegiate starts and sophomore Morgan Merriman got her first starting nods of the season last weekend against Auburn and Boston College. Norman averaged four points and four rebounds while Merriman notched 5.5 points per game over two starts. Senior Maggie Cosgrove responded to coming off the bench with a 10 point performance against Auburn, shooting 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
Taylor Leads the Way... Junior Callan Taylor has averaged 15 points through the Pioneers first five games of 2010-11 to pace the Pioneers in scoring. Taylor also is Sacred Heart's top rebounder this year with 6.8 boards per game. The Kansas native was a second-team All-NEC selection last season and ranked first in the league in rebounding, the first Pioneer to accomplish that feat. In the Pioneers trip to the Bahamas Taylor was named to the 2010 Junkanoo Jam all-tournament team, averaging 12.5 points against Auburn and Boston College.
Spreading the Minutes... The Pioneers have shown they are willing to rely on the bench in 2010-11. In the last two games no SHU player surpassed the 33 minute plateau. Head coach Ed Swanson has played at least eight players in every game so far this season. The SHU bench has scored double figures in four of five games, peaking with 18 points against Saint Joseph's. Callan Taylor leads the Pioneers averaging 32.8 minutes per contest this year.
Apo Continues To Climb All-Time Lists... Senior captain Alisa Apo posted four assists against Boston College to reach 369 helpers in her career. In her six assist performance against Saint Peter's she passed Elaine Agosti for second all-time in SHU history. Apo needs just 26 more assists in 2010-11 to have the most assists in Pioneer history, a mark currently held by Kerri Burke's 394 assists. The senior guard now stands at 1,475 points in her career. Next in Apo's sight is former teammate Kaitlin Sowinski, who stands at 1,541 points. The duo combined in 2008-09 to help lead the Pioneers to a NEC championship.
Scouting the Great Danes... Albany is off to a 5-0 start this season behind Ebone Henry and Julie Forster. Ebone paces the Great Danes with 16.0 points per game while Forster is averaging a double-double, 12.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, in 2010-11. Albany has won two games already this year without eclipsing the 50 point mark. The Great Danes took down St. Francis (NY) 49-43 and clipped Manhattan 49-48. Albany enters the contest shooting 36% from the field and 25% from the floor in 2010-11. In the America East preseason coaches poll the Great Danes were picked to finish seventh in their conference.
SHU Against the America East... The Pioneers are 34-20 (.630) all-time against opponents who currently reside in the America East. Sacred Heart last faced an America East squad last week in a 62-53 loss at Hartford. Of present America East teams SHU has faced Stony Brook the most often, owning a 10-4 record against the Seawolves. Sacred Heart's best head-to-head record in the America East comes against former NEC member Maryland-Baltimore County. The Pioneers own a 6-2 mark (.750) versus the Terriers having last played, and beat, UMBC February 4, 2003.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU '89) is in his 21st season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 343-235 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 217-116 record since joining the Division I ranks in 1999-00. Swanson was inducted in to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is the program's longest tenured coach and all-time leader in coaching wins (343). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (150). Katie Abrahamson-Henderson (Iowa '90) is in her first season as the head coach of the Albany Great Danes. Abrahamson-Henderson served as the head coach of Missouri State University for five years, leading the program to three NCAA tournament appearances. Most recently, Abrahamson-Henderson was the associate head coach at Indiana State University.