BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Sacred Heart men's basketball team has been selected to finish fifth in the Northeast Conference, as the league released its preseason poll and its Preseason All-NEC Team at NEC Basketball Social Media Day at Barclays Center.
Senior forward Joseph Lopez was named to the Preseason All-NEC Team. A Third Team All-NEC selection last season, Lopez finished his first season as a Pioneer fourth in the NEC in blocks at 1.23 per game, fifth in rebounding at 8.5 per game, and sixth in field goal percentage at .565. He had 11 double-doubles last season, eight in conference play, and averaged 13.2 points per game.
The Pioneers return six of its top eight scorers from a year ago. SHU won double-digit games for the third straight year, and reached the NEC Tournament for the third consecutive season as well. As the eighth-seed in 2016, the Pioneers pushed eventual NEC champions Mount St. Mary's to the brink in the quarterfinals before falling 76-73.
This season marks the highest SHU has been picked in the poll since being sixth prior to the 2012-13 season. Saint Francis U is this season's preseason favorite, garnering nine first-place votes. Fairleigh Dickinson was second choice and received the remaining first place vote. Wagner, reigning NEC champions Mount St. Mary's, and the Pioneers round out the top-five. LIU Brooklyn was picked sixth, followed by Robert Morris, Bryant, Central Connecticut, and St. Francis Brooklyn.
SHU opens the 2017-18 season at the Pitt Center against Holy Cross on Nov. 10.
2017-18 NEC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Saint Francis U (9 first-place votes)
2. Fairleigh Dickinson (1 first-place vote)
4. Mount St. Mary's
5. Sacred Heart
6. LIU Brooklyn
7. Robert Morris
9. Central Connecticut
10. St. Francis Brooklyn
2017-18 NEC Men's Basketball Preseason All-NEC Team
G – Darian Anderson, FDU
G – Isaiah Blackmon, Saint Francis U
G – Keith Braxton, Saint Francis U
G – Junior Robinson, Mount St. Mary's
F – Joseph Lopez, Sacred Heart