The Storyline... The Sacred Heart women's basketball team travels to nearby Hartford for a showdown with the top ranked team in the country, the UConn Huskies, Sunday afternoon. The Pioneers have won two of their last three, including the program's first victory over a BCS opponent with a 12 point win over Auburn of the SEC two weeks ago. SHU most recently knocked off unbeaten Albany Wednesday night in a 61-52 decision in Fairfield, CT. Connecticut is the only team that is currently ranked on the Pioneers 2010-11 schedule. The Huskies are the three-time defending national champions and have won 85 consecutive games. UConn needs to win just four more contests to own the longest winning streak in NCAA history for any team, male or female.
Series... The Pioneers have clashed just once with the Huskies in the history of the two programs dating back to the 2006-07 season. UConn downed Sacred Heart 82-40 on New Years Eve behind a Tina Charles double-double. The XL Center, previously the Hartford Civic Center, was the site of that game and will serve as the venue for the 2010 edition of this Nutmeg State match-up.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU '89) is in his 21st season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 344-235 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 218-116 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 (344). He has been named the NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (150). Geno Auriemma (West Chester '81) enters his 26th year at the helm of the Connecticut women's basketball program. Coach Auriemma has built a dynasty at UConn, having won back-to-back national championships in the last two years as well as claiming six of the last 11 NCAA titles. Auriemma currently sits at 742 career wins, compiling a winning percentage of .869.
Taylor Leads The Way... Junior Callan Taylor has averaged 15.3 points per game through the Pioneers first five contests of 2010-11 to pace the Pioneers in scoring. Taylor also is Sacred Heart's top rebounder 7.3 boards per game. The six-foot forward has posted a pair of double-doubles already this year, last accomplishing the feat with 17 points and ten rebounds against Albany. 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.
Apo Continues To Climb All-Time Lists... Senior captain Alisa Apo currently stands at 371 assists for her career, ranking second in SHU history. In her six assist performance against Saint Peter's she passed Elaine Agosti for second all-time in SHU history. Apo needs just 24 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 1,492 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.
Another Scoring Record Goes Down In SHU vs. UConn... The last time the Pioneers met the Huskies Sacred Heart star Amanda Pape became the school's all-time leading scorer. Pape is the only Pioneer player to eclipse the 2,000 point mark. In all likelihood it will be Connecticut who sees its all-time leading scoring crown change hands when the teams meet on Sunday. Maya Moore, currently at 2,338 career points, needs just nine points to surpass Tina Charles on top of the Huskies all-time list.
The Future 1,000 Point Trio?... It is entirely possibly that later this season the Pioneers will have three 1,000 point scorers on the roster. Alisa Apo is well above the 1,000 point plateau, which she reached in her junior season. Senior Maggie Cosgrove stands at 821 career points. The SHU guard is averaging 7.0 points per game this season, at that pace she would reach the 1,000 point mark in the Pioneers quarterfinal game of the Northeast Conference tournament. Junior Callan Taylor sits at 903 points and could reach 1,000, at her current 15 point per game pace, at home December 28 against St. Bonaventure.
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.
Pioneers Ink Three NLI's For 2011-12... Hannah Kimmel (Harpursville, NY), Gabrielle Washington (Mesa, AZ) and Katie Shepard (Lone Tree, CO) have signed national letter of intents and will be Sacred Heart Pioneers in the fall of 2011. Kimmel has averaged over 29 points per game in her high school career and is a two time conference MVP. Washington, the 2008-09 Pima Region player of the year, has averaged over 20 points per game in her last two seasons. Last season she eclipsed the 1,000 point plateau en route to being named the East Valley Region player of the year. Shepard, a true point guard, averaged eight points and eight assists in her junior season at Chapparal high school. She is a two-time team captain and was a 2010 all-league selection.