Pioneers on the Road at Holy Cross Friday Night
SACRED HEART vs. HOLY CROSS
Game 11 * December 9, 2011 * Hart Center * Worcester, MA * 7:00 pm
All-Time Series: SHU leads, 4-3 / Last Meeting: SHU 77-75, 1/2/11
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers head to Worcester, Massachusetts to take on the College of the Holy Cross Crusaders Friday night. The Pioneers are looking to shake off consecutive two-point losses to Central Connecticut and Yale while Holy Cross comes in off a 46-45 loss at Columbia where the lead by 20 early in the second half. SHU is right back in action on Sunday before an eight-day lay-off for final exams.
All-Time Series vs. Holy Cross... Friday night will mark the eighth meeting in the series between Sacred Heart and Holy Cross. The Pioneers hold a 4-3 edge in the series that dates back to the 1998-99 season. The two programs have met each year since the 2007-08 season. SHU is 3-0 against the Crusaders at home in the Pitt Center and 1-3 on the road. The Pioneers have won two-straight after a 77-75 historic win at home last season, a victory that marked the 500th in the career of head coach Dave Bike.
The Coaches... Dave Bike (Sacred Heart '69) is in his 34th year as the head coach of Sacred Heart. He has a career record of 511-466, ranking him 20th among active coaches. Only Jim Boheim of Syracuse has 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 second 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. He was 11-4 against Dave Bike's Sacred Heart teams including a 68-55 win in the 2008 NEC Championship game.
Up Next... The Pioneers are at home on Sunday for the first of five double headers with the SHU women's hoop team. The Pioneer women host Cal Poly at 1 pm followed by SHU and Lafayette at 3:30 pm.
- The Pioneers have lost two-straight games by two-points and are 0-3 this year in games decided by a bucket or less. SHU saw a 13-point lead erased in Monday's loss to Yale, their largest lead of the season lost in a losing effort.
- SHU wrapped up 1-1 against the Ivy League this season, beating Brown and losing to Yale. The Pioneers play back-to-back against the Patriot League at Holy Cross and home against Lafayette.
- The Pioneers and Crusaders have five common opponents in 2011-12. Both teams have beaten Hartford already. SHU will play New Hampshire and Boston College in the coming weeks, two teams Holy Cross has already beaten. The Crusaders will take on Yale down the road and both teams will meet Lafayette.
- Sophomore Chris Evans is coming off a season-high 16 points against Yale. He also dished a career-best five assists.
- Junior Shane Gibson scored a season-high 32 points in the overtime loss to CCSU. He made a career-best 13 of 22 shots and just missed matching his career-high of 34 points, set last season at Wagner. Gibson now owns a pair of 30-point games for his career. This season, Gibson has scored at least 20 three times and found double digits in every game.
- Junior Justin Swidowski notched the first double double of his SHU career with season-highs for points (21) and rebounds (10) at Central.
- Swidowski is shooting 56.8% (50-88) from the field to start the season, ranking fourth among NEC leaders. He is SHU's top-rebounder at 5.8 rpg.
- Positive Point Guards - Both Evan Kelley and Phil Gaetano sport positive assist/turnover ratios running the point. Kelley has a team best 32 assists against 27 turnovers while Gaetano has 29 helpers with 22 miscues.
- Deep Bench - Head Coach Dave Bike has 10 players on his roster averaging at least 10 minutes per game. The only player to not see action this year has been senior guard Steve Zazuri, who has battled an injury all season.
- The Pioneers are the top free throw shooting team in the NEC, making 73.9% at the charity stripe. SHU has gone to the line more than their opponent in six of their 10 games and have made more free throws than their opponents in seven of the first 10. Justin Swidowski and Shane Gibson are 4th and 5th in the NEC in free throw shooting. Swidowski is making 82.4% (28-34) and Gibson 80.5% (33-41).
- Offensively, the Pioneers have shot over 50.0% twice this season (51.1% at Rutgers; 54.5% vs. Lipscomb) but have lost both games. SHU has had four or more players score in double figures in four games this season and have been held to under 70 points just twice.
- SHU finished 1-3 in the 2011 Cancun Challenge with juniors Shane Gibson and Justin Swidowski being named to the Mayan Division All-Tournament team. Gibson scored 13 points with three rebounds in the win over Hampton and 21 points, five rebounds and three assists in the loss to Lipscomb. Swidowski netted 10 points with six rebounds and a pair of blocks against the Pirates and 16 points with three boards and a steal against the Bison. He made 11-of-16 shots (.688) in the two games in Mexico.
- CT 6 Notes - The Pioneers beat Hartford in the season-opening Connecticut 6 Classic and just wrapped-up a three game stretch against Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut and Yale. SHU is 2-2 against teams in the CT 6 but will not face Fairfield this season. Next year's event moves to the University of Hartford.
Last Meeting with Holy Cross... The Pioneers got 21 points from guard Shane Gibson and 18 and 17 points, respectively, from forwards Chris Evans and Louis Montes off the bench to beat Holy Cross, 77-75, January 2nd, 2011. The win marked the 500th for head coach Dave Bike in his career. Holy Cross shot 59.2% (29-49) but turned it over 15 times. 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). 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.
Pioneers vs. the Patriot League... Tonight marks the 20th game the Pioneers have played against a Patriot League opponent. SHU is 10-9 against the league facing Army (3-3), Holy Cross (4-3), Lafayette (1-1) and Lehigh (2-2).
Scouting the Crusaders... Holy Cross comes in at 3-6 on the year but are 3-1 at home this season including a win over Boston College on their ledger. The Crusaders sport a trio of double digit scorers led by senior guard Devin Brown at 13.9 ppg. Brown is the team's top three-point threat, knocking down 43.9% (18-41) on the season. Junior forward R.J. Evans is averaging 12.4 points per game while sophomore front court mate Dave Dudzinski averages 10.4 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds per game. Freshman Justin Burrell is has 36 assists, tops in the Patriot League, and averages 7.6 ppg on the year. Holy Cross was tabbed third in the Patriot League Preseason Poll with Brown earning a spot on the Preseason All-Patriot League team.