FAIRFIELD, CT (May 30, 2013) - After 35 years on the sidelines at Sacred Heart University, head men's basketball coach Dave Bike has announced his retirement after a storied career. The Sacred Heart University Athletic Department has announced that Anthony Latina has been named the Pioneers' new head coach becoming just the third head coach in men's basketball program history.
"Today is a defining moment in the history of Sacred Heart University Athletics," commented Executive Director of Athletics C. Donald Cook, who will be retiring from the University as well on July 1st. "Anytime a coach serves his institution for 30-plus consecutive years, and decides to retire, that's a special moment in history."
Coach Bike took the reins of the program in 1978 from Don Feely and finishes his career with 530 career victories. Bike began his coaching career at Sacred Heart, serving as an assistant on Coach Feely's staff in 1965-66 and 1966-67 before earning a degree as part of SHU's third graduating class. After four seasons as an assistant at Seattle University, Bike returned to his alma mater to take the only head coaching position he would ever hold.
Bike opened his 35th season in 2012-13 by coaching in his 1,000th career game. Earlier this month, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame announced he will be inducted as part of the 2013 class as both a high school player and a head coach.
During the 1980s, the Pioneers competed in a remarkable seven straight NCAA regional championship games and posted an impressive 173-51 record - winning 77.2 percent of their games. He led his teams to five NCAA Division II Regional Championships and four New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) titles.
The highlight of Bike's 35-year career came during the 1985-86 season when he led the Pioneers to the NCAA Division II National title. The 93-87 win over Southeast Missouri State in the championship game at the Springfield Civic Center, just down the road from the Basketball Hall of Fame, was the first for a New England institution. After leading his team to a 30-4 title run, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) selected Bike as its National Coach of the Year in 1985-86.
During the Pioneers' Division II days, Bike coached six Pioneers who were named NABC All-Americans (Keith Bennett 1981, 1982, 1983; Rhonie Wright 1983; Roger Younger 1985, 1986; Bill Bayno 1985; Tony Judkins 1988, 1989; Darrin Robinson 1991, 1992) and three players who were named Regional Player of the Year (Keith Bennett 1982, 1983; Roger Younger 1986; Darrin Robinson 1993).
He guided the Pioneers during the transition to Division I status leading his teams to six Northeast Conference Tournament trips including back-to-back NEC Championship game appearances in 2007 and 2008.
"No one would debate that Dave Bike is the face of the institution in the athletic sense," continued Cook. "He's been the pillar and standard for the intercollegiate athletics program since 1978 when he assumed the role of men's basketball coach. While he's accomplished much on the basketball court, and has garnered more honors and awards than he can count, his legacy is not just about sport. It's been about the impact he has had on the lives of hundreds of young men who had the privilege of playing for him. Dave's unconditional love for his players, and commitment to helping them become responsible adults, is his real legacy.
"I agree with my daughter Amy when she emailed me saying I had the best job ever, because our family has so many fond memories that we will all cherish for the rest of our lives," commented Bike.
Latina will take charge of the men's basketball program after spending the past eight seasons as an assistant coach on Bike's staff. A Connecticut native, Latina will begin his first season as a head coach in 2013-14.
"I am very excited and appreciative for this opportunity," commented Latina. "I know what a special place Sacred Heart University is and I hope that our program will represent this great university in the manner in which it deserves. We will do everything possible to ensure our student-athletes have a first-class experience and reach their potential both on and off the court."
When Latina joined the Pioneer coaching staff in 2005-06, he immediately made an impact and helped guide Sacred Heart to its best stretch of basketball in the Division I era (1999-present). During his eight years at SHU, the Pioneers have made five Northeast Conference Tournament appearances including two trips to the NEC Championship game (2007, 2008). From 2005 through 2010, the Pioneers posted 79 wins, including 52 wins in the Northeast Conference.
Since his arrival, Sacred Heart has produced six All-Northeast Conference players (Kibwe Trim - 2006, Jarrid Frye - 2006, 2007, Joe Henley - 2009, Drew Shubik - 2008, Corey Hassan - 2010, Shane Gibson - 2012, 2013), two NEC All-Rookie team picks (Chauncey Hardy - 2007, Chris Evans - 2011) and a NEC Most Improved Player award winner (Liam Potter - 2010).
Latina began his coaching career as an assistant at UMass Lowell before moving on to Central Connecticut State University as a part of head coach Howie Dickenman's staff, where he spent six seasons. While at CCSU, he helped the Blue Devils to a pair of Northeast Conference Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances.
"Today, Dave passes the torch to an outstanding, young coach, Anthony Latina," stated Cook. "Anthony and Dave worked together for eight years. While Anthony was, and still is, a student of the game from his playing days at Brandeis and coaching 6 years under another Connecticut legend, Howie Dickenman (CCSU), he has brought a special passion for the game to Sacred Heart."
"Anthony's presence will make the transition from the past to the present a seamless process. He and Dave share very similar philosophies and core values in coaching, and in life. They teach the game as it should be taught. More importantly, they develop young men to be responsible young adults. Sacred Heart men's basketball and will continue to be blessed with a high level of integrity and skill under Anthony's leadership in the years ahead."