Pioneers Head to Siena Friday to Kick Off 2011-12 Season
The Storyline... The Sacred Heart Pioneers kick off the 2011-12 season Friday night in Loudonville, N.Y. against the Siena Saints. The Pioneers were picked to finish fourth in the 2011-12 Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll. Senior forward Callan Taylor was named to the preseason All- NEC team. The Saints are opening the season as well, as they played four exhibition games in the 2011 Women's Basketball Foreign Tour in August.
The Series... The Pioneers and Saints head into Friday's game even with a win a piece in the all-time series. Both teams were successful in claiming victory on their home courts. When the teams met for the first time in the 2009-10 season in Siena, the Saints defeated the Pioneers 51-45. However, last year was a different story. At home in the Pitt Center, the Pioneers made a statement beating the Siena 72-33. Sacred Heart senior Alisa Apo posted 22 points in the game.
Scouting the Saints...The Saints kicked off their season across the Atlantic Ocean on the 2011 Women's Basketball Foreign Tour, going 0-2 against two Denmark teams and 2-0 against two Italian teams. Their biggest win came in the game against the TDT Slammers in Castellanza, Italy where Siena blew them away 96-38. Maja Geryng, 2010-11's second leading scorer, returns to the couty for her senior year. Also returning is their third leading scorer, guard Christina Centeno.
SHU Against the MAAC...The Pioneers are 15-18 (.455) all-time against oppo- nents who currently reside in the MAAC. However, SHU is 5-1 in the last two seasons versus the MAAC. picking up two wins over St. Peter's and a win each over Manhattan, Siena and Fairfield. Sacred Heart's best head-to-head in the MAAC comes with a 2-0 mark against the Rider Broncs.
The Coaches... Ed Swanson (SHU '89) is in his 22nd season as head coach at his alma mater. Swanson posts a 359-245 record in his career at Sacred Heart. His teams have a 233-126 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 leading in coaching wins (341). He has been named NEC Coach of the Year three times and is the all-time leader in regular season NEC wins (150).Gina Castelli (Canisius '86) is in her 22nd season as the head coach of the Siena Saints. Castelli holds a 324-379 career record and 216-137 carer MAAC record. She is the longest tenured active coach in the MAAC and the winningest in Siena basketball history. A five-time MAAC Coach of the Year, Castelli has guided the saints to seven MAAC regular season titles.