Sacred Heart Pioneers
Overall Rank: #141
Conference Rank: #1 Northeast Conference
2006-07: 18-14, 12-6, 2nd
2006-07 postseason: none
Sacred Heart had seven players that averaged over eight points per game during the 2006-2007 campaign. Only one of them is gone and two more are ready to cover the loss, and then some. A talented backcourt, led by Drew Shubik, has the Pioneers the favorites to win the NEC. Shubik is a great passer, but his shooting and defense will make him a superstar in the conference. With the versatile Chauncey Hardy and sharpshooters Luke Granato and Ryan Litke manning the perimeter, Sacred Heart has the best backcourt in the NEC…and there is even more talent that will be eligible to play in Fairfield, Connecticut this year.
Jarried Frye was the leading scorer last year, averaging 13.3 points per game. He was not a terrific shooter, but played an important role getting to the basket and helping out the frontcourt on the glass. Tavio Hobson, the only other player besides Frye to start all 32 games, has also run out of eligibility. The former walk-on at Boston College never put up big numbers, but he ran the offense smoothly and was a shut down defender.
The best newcomer is Corey Hassan. The 6-4 sophomore averaged 11.9 points per game two years ago as a freshman at Boston University. He is a prolific long range shooter and will add even another scoring punch to the Sacred Heart offense. Incoming freshman Jerrell Thompson and redshirt freshman Josh Marshall will have a tough time finding minutes in the crowded backcourt. Forward Ryon Howard began to show his potential early last season, averaging 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds, before going down with a knee injury in the second game of the season. The most intriguing newcomer is power forward Mehmet Sahan. The 6-9, 245 pound Turkey native is unusually polished for a player his size and age. He is coming off a good year at prep school and has experience on the Turkish National Team.
Who to Watch:
However, the Pioneers will not need to depend on Sahan this year and will have plenty of time to groom him into a quality big man. Seniors Joey Henley and Brice Brooks have the experience to lead the frontcourt. Henley is undersized for a power forward at 6-4, but the football player does not lack any toughness. He has developed into a solid scorer, but his rebounding and ability to do the dirty work will keep him in the lineup. Brooks has a little more size and led the squad in rebounding in 2006-2007. He will float out to the perimeter and becomes a very dangerous weapon when the mid-range jumper is falling. Liam Potter dwarfs the rest of the frontcourt. The seven-footer is still developing as a basketball player, but has the potential to contribute more than his 4.6 point and 3.1 rebound averages of a year ago.
It will not be easy to find a better backcourt in the conference and the frontcourt has plenty of returning talent and potential of its own. Coach Dave Bike, a former catcher in the Detroit Tigers organization, has successfully transitioned Sacred Heart from a Division II powerhouse to a Division I contender over his long career. It all culminates this year with Sacred Heart the favorites to reach the NCAA Tournament, albeit likely the play-in game.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Drew Shubik, Senior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Chauncey Hardy, Sophomore, Guard, 10.6 points per game
Corey Hassan, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Joey Henley, Senior, Forward, 11.1 points per game
Ryon Howard, Junior, Forward, 10.0 points per game