Pioneers Return to NEC Play Thursday Night at FDU

Guard Shane Gibson
Guard Shane Gibson

Sacred Heart Pioneers (5-8, 0-2 NEC) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (3-8, 2-0 NEC)

Game #14 - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 7:00 pm - Hackensack, NJ - Straits Arena

SHU at Fairleigh Dickinson Game Notes

The Storyline...  The Sacred Heart Pioneers return to Northeast Conference play full-time heading to Fairleigh Dickinson Thursday night.  The Pioneers have won four of their last five games and are fresh off delivering head coach Dave Bike his 500th career victory on Sunday, beating Holy Cross, 77-75.  SHU is looking to get erase a 0-2 start to their NEC season, falling to Mount St. Mary's and Wagner earlier this season.  R-Sophomore guard Shane Gibson earned his second-straight Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week nod on Monday.  Over the last five games, Gibson is averaging 21.0 ppg and shooting 45.7% (21-46) from behind the arc.  He has led SHU in scoring over the last five games and ranks seventh among the NEC's top-scorers heading into Thursday's match-up.  The Knights are 3-8 on the year and are hoping to end a five-game losing streak.  FDU is off to a 2-0 start to NEC play, beating Central Connecticut State, 48-46, and Bryant, 78-68, back in December.

Sacred Heart - FDU All-Time Series...  Tonight marks the 19th meeting between the two school with the all-time series tied a nine wins apiece.  All 19 meeting have taken place since the Pioneers joined the NEC in 1999-00.  FDU took both meetings last season, snapping a four-game SHU win streak in the series. 

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 500-451, 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.  Greg Vetrone (C.W. Post '86) was named the sixth head coach at Fairleigh Dickinson after serving as the interim coach in 2009-10.  Vetrone guided the Knights to a 10-8 record in Northeast Conference play, earning a fifth seed in the conference tournament after the Knights were absent from the postseason the previous two seasons.

On the Upcoming Slate... The Pioneers are on the road again on Saturday night traveling to Monmouth University.  SHU will host a pair of NEC contests next week facing CCSU and Bryant.

Scouting the Knights...  The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights have three wins in 2010-11, two coming in their first two NEC match-ups.  FDU is coming off a 98-92 overtime loss at home to Lafayette on Sunday and are in the midst of a five-game slide.  Senior guard Mike Scott leads the team and the Northeast Conference averaging 17.4 points per game.  Scott is also the league's top assist man, dishing out 62 helpers on the year, a 5.64 per game average.  Seniors Kamil Svrdlik and Terence Grier both average double figures at 13.5 and 10.6 points per game, respectively.  Svrdlik is the team's top rebounder at 7.5 caroms per game, a mark that ranks him seventh among league leaders. 

Last Meeting with FDU...   Fairleigh Dickinson's Mike Scott drilled a three with 58 seconds left to erase what was a 19-point Sacred Heart lead and lead the Knights to a 64-59 overtime win knocking the Pioneers out of a potential spot in the NEC Tournament last February.  It was the second time last season the Pioneers saw a huge lead against FDU evaporate. In January, FDU erased a 22-point deficit with 11 minutes left to win 88-85.  The Pioneers held FDU to just one for their first 20 from the field in the first 12 minutes of the game, but SHU could manage just a ten-point lead at 14-4. The Pioneers led 26-17 at the intermission, led by seven points from senior Chauncey Hardy.  Sacred Heart scored the first eight points of the second half to double up the Knights, 34-17. A Josh Marshall layup with 12:52 remaining gave the Pioneers a 19-point advantage at 43-24.  The Pioneers still led by 17 with 8:31 left but FDU scored 21 of the last 25 points, using Scott's trey with :58 left to send the game to overtime tied at 52-52.  Scott was fouled on the first possession of the overtime and hit two free throws to give the Knights their first lead of the game. After a missed three by Jerrell Thompson, Alvin Mofunanya converted a dunk at the other end to give FDU a 56-52 lead.  Hardy cut it to two with a pair of free throws, and senior Corey Hassan gave SHU the lead back at 57-56 with his first trey of the game. The lead was short lived as Kamil Svrdlik answered with a layup for FDU and Mofunanya made it a three-point gap with 1:05 left in the game and the Knights never looked back.  The loss was the eighth in nine games for the Pioneers and knocked them out of the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Last Time Out...  The Pioneers were led by 21 points from r-sophomore Shane Gibson and got 18 and 17 points, respectively, from freshmen Chris Evans and Louis Montes off the bench to beat Holy Cross, 77-75, Sunday afternoon.  The win marked the 500th for head coach Dave Bike.  Holy Cross shot 59.2% (29-49) but turned it over 15 times as they fall to 1-12 on the year.   Both teams played it close to the vest in the early minutes with SHU up 11-10 just over seven minutes into the game.  The Crusaders put together a 13-3 run on the strength of six points from Dave Dudzinski and a three from Jordan Stevens to build a nine-point lead, 23-14.  The Pioneers chipped away with a 9-0 spurt pulling within one, 23-22, and then took advantage of the Crusaders only scoring drought of the afternoon to take the lead back.  Down 30-27 with 4:17 on the clock, Mike Cavatalo hit a jumper from the wing but that would prove to be Holy Cross's last field goal of the half.  The Pioneers went on a 13-1 run to close the half to lead 40-31 at the break.  Both teams shot 50% in the first half, HC hitting 53.8% (14-26) and SHU 50.0% (14-28).  Three Pioneers found double figures in the first half in Gibson, 13, Evan Kelley, 10 and Evans, 10.  The SHU lead hit its high-water mark right out of the locker room on a Jerrell Thompson jumper putting the Pioneers up 42-31 just 18 seconds in.  The Crusaders began to fight their way back in to the game, cutting it to 44-43 at the 15 minute mark and then 53-52 with 11 minutes left.  Holy Cross pulled back in front on a Dee Goens lay-up, 54-53, and led by three, 59-56 with 8:31 left.  The Crusaders could never pull away and SHU pulled the game even at 61-61 on a pair of Montes free throws.  Montes put the Pioneers back in front for good at 5:51 with two more free throws and then gave SHU a 66-61 lead at 5:10 drilling a three.  He hit on a lay-up with 1:41 left to give SHU a 72-65 lead, with 10 of his 16 points coming over the final seven minute of the game.  Holy Cross made it interesting down the stretch as Andrew Beinert converted on a three-point play and hit a pair of free throws to pull within 76-73 with 23 seconds left.  A SHU turnover resulted in a Devin Brown lay-up cutting it to 76-75 but one of two at the line by Montes left Holy Cross with 12 seconds left to try and tie.  The Crusaders failed to get off a final shot as Beinert turned it over just as the horn sounded to deliver Coach Bike the milestone victory.  The Pioneers shot 48.2% (27-56) as a team in the win and turned it over a season-low eight times with 14 assists.  Evans added four assists and a steal to his totals while Montes shot five-of-six from the field.  Kelley added 10 points with three steals in the win.

Coach Bike Hits the 500 Win Plateau...  Head Coach Dave Bike, in his 33rd season as the head coach of his alma mater, earned his 500th career victory on Sunday with a 77-75 win over Holy Cross at home in the Pitt Center.  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).

Gibson Wins Back to Back NEC Player of the Week Awards...  Sophomore Shane Gibson made it back-to-back Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week awards following a pair of scintillating offensive performances as the Pioneers dropped a close decision at Providence and defeated Holy Cross for head coach Dave Bike's 500th career victory on Sunday. He averaged 23.5 points and 3.0 rebounds, while shooting 55.2 percent from the floor. He also knocked down 10-19 shots from long range, a 52.6 percent conversion rate. Just two days after setting a new career-high with 23 points in a win a Yale, Gibson went toe-to-toe with high-scoring Providence guard Marshon Brooks, dropping 26 points in an 84-76 setback to the Big East foe on December 21. He hit 10-14 shots from the floor, including a career-best 6-9 from behind the arc, and added two assists and three steals. Gibson didn't miss a beat after an 11-day layoff for the holidays, scoring a game-high 21 points to go along with four rebounds, an assist and a block in a 77-75 win over Holy Cross. He hit four more shots from three-point territory and went 5-5 from the line, including a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining to give the Pioneers a five-point lead. Gibson, who hails from Killingly, CT, has led the Pioneers in scoring in each of the last five games - averaging 21.0 ppg on 21-46 shooting (.457) from long range in that stretch - and ten times on the season. He leads the NEC with 33 three-pointers and ranks eighth in the league with 15.6 ppg.