Nov. 4, 2009
FAIRFIELD, CT - The Sacred Heart men's basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the 2009 Pre-Season Coaches poll today. Mount St. Mary's, who has played in the last two conference championship games, was picked first with nine of 12 first-place votes.
The preseason rankings, along with the league's preseason all-conference team, were announced during a media teleconference with coaches this afternoon as a prelude to the NEC's 29th season.
NEC head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own team, picked Long Island to finish second with a single first-place vote. Defending NEC champion Robert Morris and Quinnipiac tied for third with the Colonials securing two first place nods. Central Connecticut State was picked fifth, with Sacred Heart in sixth and St. Francis (NY) in the seventh position. Fairleigh Dickinson landed in eight place, followed by Monmouth in ninth, Wagner in tenth, Bryant in eleventh and Saint Francis (PA) in twelfth.
The Pioneers reached back-to-back NEC Championship games, before falling to Mount St. Mary's in the semi-final game last season.
"We're pleased to have winning seasons the last couple of years," says head coach Dave Bike. "But we're also disappointed that we didn't reach the heights of Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary's in winning the conference championship."
The preseason all-NEC team is comprised of three guards and two forwards: Fairleigh Dickinson senior guard Sean Baptiste, Mount St. Mary's senior guard Jeremy Goode, CCSU junior forward Ken Horton, Quinnipiac junior forward Justin Rutty and Long Island senior guard Jaytornah Wisseh (Brooklyn, NY/Banneker Academy). Goode, Rutty and Wisseh were all first team All-NEC picks a year ago, while Baptiste and Horton were second team honorees. Wisseh is the only two-time All-NEC honoree in the group.
Since the poll was conducted, Long Island has had 2008-09 Rookie of the Year Julian Boyd sidelined with a heart ailment that will keep him out for the season, and could put his career in jeopardy. In addition, the Blackbirds lost two international players in forward Aurimas Adomaitis and guard Lucas Faggiano. Both players elected not to return to school for family reasons and signed professional contracts in their home countries.
In addition, Central Connecticut State announced that their leading scorer and rebounder from last season, Ken Horton, will miss the season after undergoing surgery on his hip next week.
Conducted annually, NEC coaches have failed to correctly forecast the eventual league champion since selecting Mount St. Mary's to win it all in 1998-99, and have proven inaccurate in 20 of the last 22 years.
"We're picked sixth which I think is logical considering our loss of Henley and Howard," says Bike. "This may sound silly, but I think we could do better than that and I also think we could do worse."