SACRED HEART vs. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT
Game 09 * December 3, 2011 * Detrick Gymnasium - New Britain, CT * 3:30 pm
All-Time Series: CCSU, 30-17 / Last Meeting: CCSU, 57-56 - 2/17/10
The Storyline... Sacred Heart will head upstate for game two on the Northeast Conference schedule facing the Central Connecticut Blue Devils. The Pioneers opened the NEC slate with a 68-55 win at Quinnipiac on Thursday while the Blue Devils blew past Bryant, 83-51.
All-Time Series vs. CCSU... The instate rivalry goes back to the Division II days for both Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State. The Blue Devils lead the series 30-17 and owns a 20-9 record against the Pioneers since SHU joined the NEC in 1999-2000. The Blue Devils swept the season series last year and have won three of the last four. Sacred Heart and Central have met five times in the postseason. The Blue Devils knocked the Pioneers from the NEC Tournament three times including winning the 2007 NEC title against SHU. Sacred Heart ousted CCSU from the 2008 and 2009 tournaments.
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 511-464, 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. Howie Dickenman (Central Connecticut State '70) is in his 16th season as the head coach at his alma mater. Dickenman is the second longest tenured head coach in school history and carries a 240-210 career record with 156 career NEC wins. He is a four-time NEC Coach of the Year award recipient and has led the Blue Devils to three conference titles. He has led CCSU to 14-straight NEC Tournament appearances heading into this season, the longest active streak in the league.
Up Next... The Pioneers will play their third game in five days when they return home on Monday night to play host to the Yale Bulldogs.
- SHU is in the midst of a three game stretch against schools from the Connecticut 6 Classic. SHU beat Hartford in this year's event and are coming off a 68-55 win at QU last time out. The Pioneers take on CCSU today and Yale on Monday night. The only team SHU will not face from the tournament field is Fairfield.
- The win over Quinnipiac snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bobcats and also matched the Pioneers best Division I start (5-3). The Pioneers opened the 2009-10 season 5-3.
- The win also improved Sacred heart to 8-5 in NEC openers all-time including wins in five of the last six league openers.
- Balance - All 10 of the Pioneers in uniform average at least 11 minutes per night for head coach Dave Bike with five averaging 7.0 ppg or better.
- The Pioneers rank second in the NEC in free throw shooting, making 73.9% at the charity stripe. SHU has gone to the line more than their opponent in five of their eight games and have made more free throws than their opponents in six of the first eight.
- Junior Shane Gibson netted his third 20-point game of the season, dropping 21 on Quinnipiac. Gibson a season-high 26 points at Richmond, taking a career-high 21 shots. He has sixteen 20-point games for his career.
- Junior Femi Akinpetide, in his second-straight start, posted a season-high 11 points and six rebounds against QU. Akinpetide had 11 points combined in the previous seven games combined coming into Thursday night.
- Offensively, the Pioneers have shot over 50.0% twice this season (51.1% at Rutgers; 54.5% vs. Lipscomb) but have lost both games. SHU has had four or more players score in double figures in four games this season and have been held to under 70 points just twice.
- Center Justin Swidowski is averaging 11.8 ppg and 5.3 rpg through the first eight games of his SHU career. Swidowski ranks fifth among NEC players making 55.4% (36-65) of his shots. He is coming off the first foul out of his career.
- The Pioneers are 2-0 at home this season thanks to a 77-64 win over Brown. SHU plays just twice at home in the month of December, hosting Yale on Monday night and Lafayette on Sunday the 11th.
- Senior forward Stan Dulaire recorded his first career double double and matched his career high for points in the win over Stony Brook. Dulaire scored 14 points (14 vs. LIU 2/11/10) and pulled down 10 rebounds.
- SHU finished 1-3 in the 2011 Cancun Challenge with juniors Shane Gibson and Justin Swidowski being named to the Mayan Division All-Tournament team. Gibson scored 13 points with three rebounds in the win over Hampton and 21 points, five rebounds and three assists in the loss to Lipscomb. Swidowski netted 10 points with six rebounds and a pair of blocks against the Pirates and 16 points with three boards and a steal against the Bison. He made 11-of-16 shots (.688) in the two games in Mexico.
Pioneers in the NEC... Sacred Heart begins its 13th season of play in the Northeast Conference in 2011-12. The Pioneers are 91-130 in conference play since joining the league in 1999-2000. SHU has qualified for the Northeast Conference Tournament five times but saw a streak of four-straight seasons making the postseason snapped in 2009-10. The Pioneers best finish in the league was second, a feat they accomplished twice, in 2006-07 and 2008-09. SHU has made two NEC Championship game appearances, falling to Central Connecticut State in 2007 and losing to Mount St. Mary's at home in 2008.
Last Season Against CCSU... Central Connecticut swept the 2010-11 season series, winning in Fairfield, 88-75, and at home in Detrick Gym, 57-56. The Blue Devils erased a six-point SHU lead at the half with a 54-point second half on the way to a 13-point win at SHU on January 13th. The Pioneers had 11 of their 20 turnovers in the second half and allowed a season-high 88 points in the loss. Guard Shane Gibson poured in 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting including five three's. Central's Ken Horton led the way with 27 points while Robby Ptacek hit for 25 points. Sacred Heart shot over 50.0%, making 29-of-56, but managed just one-of-seven from behind the arc in the second half. Gibson buried four-of-five from behind the arc in the first half and helped fuel a 16-0 run that erased an eight point deficit and gave the Pioneers a 40-32 lead. CCSU opened the game making 10 of their first 13 shots building a 21-11 lead nine minutes in while forcing the Pioneers to use three of their timeouts during that span. With the game knotted at 48-48, the Blue Devils took the lead back for good on a Shemik Thompson put back. Consecutive three's from Horton and Robby Ptacek put Central up 63-56 with 10 minutes to play and the Blue Devils pulled away, running their lead to 80-65 over a four minute stretch with a 13-3 run. In the return match-up, SHU came up just short of a comeback win when junior Nick Greenbacker's last second shot at a potential game-winner missed it's mark in a 57-56 loss at CCSU on February 17th. The Pioneers got 15 points from Shane Gibson in the loss. CCSU's Ken Horton scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half to lead the Blue Devils. SHU held Central to just 27.6% shooting in the first half (8 of 29) but trailed by one, 24-23 at the half. The Blue Devils turned it up a notch in the second half hitting 56.5% (13 of 23). CCSU also took advantage of 21 Sacred Heart turnovers to the tune of 28 points at the other end. In addition to Gibson's 18 points, Evan Kelley chipped in with 11.
Scouting the Blue Devils... Central Connecticut boasts the NEC's top-scoring offense along with the top-three scores in seniors Ken Horton and Robby Ptacek and freshman Kyle Vinales. The rookie Vinales has been the break-out star in the early going, averaging 22.5 ppg while shooting 47.4% (18-38) from three on his way to claiming every NEC Rookie of the Week award this season. Horton, a Preseason All-NEC pick, is right on his heels at 22.2 ppg and is the team's top-rebounder at 8.0 caroms a night. Ptacek is CCSU's third big-gun, averaging 19.8 ppg. All three are shooting over 50.0% from the field on the year. The Blue Devils have won four-straight after opening losses to Yale in the Connecticut 6, 73-69, and at Niagara in overtime, 102-93. Central is also 3-0 at home with wins over Army, UMBC and Hartford on their ledger.