Pioneers Draw Hartford in Season Opening Connecticut 6 Classic

2011 Connecticut 6 Classic
Game 01 * November 11, 2011 * Mohegan Sun Arena
Uncasville, CT * 3:00 pm
All-Time Series: SHU Leads 11-6 / Last Meeting: W, 56-55 (12/11/10)

Full Set of Game Notes

The Storyline...  The 2011-12 season gets underway on Friday afternoon as the Sacred Heart Pioneers face the Hartford Hawks in the opening game of the Connecticut 6 Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena.  The Pioneers were picked eighth in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coach's Poll as they look for a return to the league championship tournament after a two-year absence.  SHU will be led by junior guard Shane Gibson, an All-NEC pick in 2010-11, this season as he heads up a team that returns eight players this year.  A trio on new faces will suit up for the first time for the Pioneers starting on Friday in junior center Justin Swidowski and freshman guards Phil Gaetano and Steve Glowiak.

Sacred Heart - Hartford All-Time Series... This is the 18th all-time meeting between the two schools, dating back to 1970. Sacred Heart holds an 11-6 edge in the series after a 56-55 win in Fairfield last season.  SHU found themselves down 20-points with just over eight minute left in the second half last season before completing the historic comeback on a Stan Dulaire free throw with 0.2 seconds left.  The comeback-win marked the largest deficit overcome for a win in Sacred Heart's Division I history (1999-Present).    The Pioneers have played Hartford six times during the Division I era losing four-straight to the Hawks before wins in the last two seasons.

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 506-461, 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. John Gallagher (Saint Joseph's '99) is in his second season at the helm of the University of Hartford men's basketball program.  Gallagher is the 10th coach in the 61-year history of the University of Hartford men's basketball program. He returns to the sidelines after spending two seasons as the Hawks' associate head coach from 2006-08.

Connecticut 6 Notes...  This is the third year of the Connecticut 6 Classic with the triple-header taking up stakes at the Mohegan Sun Arena for the second-straight year. 

-  Guard Shane Gibson was named to the Preseason All-Connecticut 6 Team

-  The 2012-13 triple-header will take place at the University of Hartford.  The Chase Family Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion is a 3,508 seat arena and has been home to the America East Women's Championship for nine of the past 10 seasons.

-  SHU lost to the cross-town rival Fairfield Stags, 62-45, in last season's classic at Mohegan Sun Arena

-  The Pioneers beat Yale 92-86 in the inaugural classic, 92-86, played at the Arena at Harbor Yard. 

-  Senior Jerrell Thompson, last season's starting point guard, was the only Pioneer in double figures in the loss to the Stags, scoring 13 points with four assists and three steals.

- Friday's other two match-ups feature Fairfield and Quinnipiac facing-off and Central Connecticut and Yale in the night cap.

- This year's Connecticut 6 Classic will be broadcast live by CPTV Sports.  CPTV Sports, the all-new 24-hour, seven-days a week sports channel launched earlier this month, will air all three games live on Friday and then again in reverse order on Saturday, November 12th.

- The Pioneers will also face the Yale Bulldogs this season and take on NEC rivals Quinnipaic and CCSU during conference play.  SHU will host the Bulldogs on December 5th.  The Pioneers play at Quinnipiac on December 1st and host the Bobcats on January 19th.  SHU heads up to CCSU on December 3rd and welcomes the Blue Devils to the Pitt Center on January 21st.  Fairfield is the only team in the field that the Pioneers will not face in 2011-12.

Season Openers:  The Pioneers are 24-22 in season openers all-time but just 2-10 in openers since making the move to Division I in 1999.  The Pioneers have lost seven of their last eight season opening games, with the only win coming against Yale, 92-86, in the 2009 Connecticut 6 Classic.  Their only other Division I season opening win came against Stony Brook, 76-71, to open the 2001-02 season.

Pioneers vs. the America East...  Sacred Heart is 37-27 all-time against schools currently in America East.  The Pioneers were 3-0 last season against the league and have a five-game winning streak against the league heading into this year.  SHU opens the year with two-straight against the America East facing Hartford and hosting Seawolves and will travel to New Hampshire in late December.  The Pioneers have faced every team from the league, posting winning records against Albany (8-5), Hartford (11-6), New Hampshire (1-0) and Stony Brook (14-4), is event with Binghamton (1-1) and have a losing record against Maine (0-3), UMBC (2-7) and Vermont (0-2).

Scouting the Hawks...  The Hartford Hawks posted an 11-20 record in 2010-11 under first year head coach John Gallagher.  The Hawks went 7-9 in America East play and earned the six seed in the conference tournament before falling to eventual champion Boston University in the quarterfinals.  The Hawks have eight new faces in 2011-12 and will be led by a trio of seniors in Clayton Brothers, Genesis Maciel and Andres Torres.  Torres is a fifth-year senior who missed the 2010-11 season while recovering from knee surgery. As a junior in 2009-10, Torres enjoyed a breakout season averaging 6.7 points and 4.4 assists.  The Hawks were picked to finish tied for seventh in the America East Preseason Poll.

Record Comeback vs. the Hawks...  The Pioneers 20-point comeback win over Hartford last season  was the largest second half deficit overcome for a win in SHU's Division I history (1999 - Present).  Sacred Heart trailed the Hawks 51-31 with 8:17 remaining in the game before staging a historic comeback.  Stan Dulaire's free throw with 0.2 seconds left gave the Pioneers their only lead of the night and the win, 56-55.  Here are the top-five second half comeback wins in SHU's Division I history:

Senior Leadership...  Sacred Heart head men's basketball coach Dave Bike announced that senior Stan Dulaire and r-junior Nick Greenbacker have been named captains for the 2011-12 season.  Dulaire enters his senior season after enjoying his best year in a Pioneer uniform starting 27 of 29 games last year. He posted career best numbers averaging 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while playing 26.2 minutes per night. He led the team in rebounding and was fourth on the team in scoring. He also led the team in field goal percentage, shooting 52.6% from the field last year.  Greenbacker played in 27 games with 15 starts last season. He finished the year averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds as one of the top-options off the bench for Head Coach Dave Bike. Off the court, he was named to the NABC Academic Honor Court and the NEC Academic Honor Roll. An active member of SHU's SAAC, he is the team's coordinator for community service projects.  "Nick has already completed his undergraduate degree and is enrolled in graduate school," stated head coach Dave Bike. "Over my coaching career, of all the student-athletes that I have had the pleasure to coach, Nick has graduated with a grade point average that puts him at the top of the list.  Both are quality individuals who represent the University in a positive fashion not only on the court but in the community as well."

Gibson Ready to Score...  R-Junior guard Shane Gibson had a break-out season in 2010-11, earning All-Northeast Conference second team honors.  He finished the season ranked second in the NEC in scoring and was also one of the league's top three-point shooters. Gibson knocked down 75 three's on the year, third among NEC leaders, and made 38.9% from behind the arc.  Gibson posted 12 games where he scored 20 or more points in 2010-11.  He enters his junior season needing 252 points to eclipse the 1,000 point mark for his career.

Sophomore Trio Ready for Round 2...  Sophomores Evan Kelley, Louis Montes and Chris Evans figure heavily in Coach Bike's plans for 2011-12 after impressive rookie campaigns.  Kelley is slated to start at point guard this season while Montes is the early season favorite to occupy one of the forward spots in the starting line-up.  Kelley made 15 starts in 29 games last season, finishing the year averaging 7.3 points and 2.9 rebounds.  He was second on the team with 48 assists and also had 39 steals defensively.  Montes came on very strong at the end of last season, earning six starts during the final stretch while recording a pair of double doubles.  He finished with 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game on his ledger.  Evans finished 2010-11 by earning a spot on the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team.  Evans started 10 games last season and was third on the team in scoring at 9.1 points per game.

Swidowski Ready to Debut...  R-Junior forward Justin Swidowski will make his Sacred Heart debut on Friday afternoon after sitting out the 2010-11 season after transferring from Holy Family University.  Swidowski is slated to start at the center position for the Pioneers.  While at Holy Family, Swidowski led the team in scoring and rebounding averaging 24.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He shot 59.8% from the field in 2009-10 and finished the year with 74 blocks and 37 steals on the defensive end. He was a Division II Bulletin All-American honorable mention while also earning National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II All-East District and Daktronics All-East Region second team honors. He was named to the All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) first team. As a freshman, Swidowski was the ECAC and CACC Rookie of the Year after leading his team in scoring (16.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg).

Two More Fresh Faces...  A pair of freshman guards will debut in 2011-12 as well in Steve Glowiak and Phil Gaetano.  Glowiak red-shirted last season while Gaetano comes to SHU after a season at Choate Rosemary Prep.  Glowiak played basketball at New Britain for his father, head coach Stan Glowiak where he helped lead his team to consecutive 20 win seasons. He was an All-State selection by the Hartford Courant and a McDonald's All-American nominee. His brother Brian is the Director for Basketball Operations at the University of Hartford.  Gaetano played for his father; head coach Joe Gaetano at Sheehan High School where he led his team to the Class M State Championship as a senior.  He averaged 16.0 points, 11.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game and set a new school record with 705 career assists.