Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sacred Heart Blown Out by Hartford, in my First Live Look

Shane Gibson's number 25 jersey wasn't the only thing the Sacred Heart Pioneers left in Fairfield before boarding the bus to Hartford (he had to wear #1 for his jersey tonight). They also forgot their game.

In what transpired as a putrid performance at the Chase Family Arena, the listless Pioneers lost to Hartford, 62-47, and it wasn't even that close. The Pioneers shot 33% from the floor, which included ten out of 11 missed attempts from behind the arc. They committed as many turnovers (16) as made baskets (16). Their bench was outscored by Hartford's bench, 29-7.

The Hawks used an 18-2 run in the middle of the first half to pull away, and in reality, it could have been much worse. Hartford missed several make-able buckets around the rim. It pains me to say that the Pioneers were "fortunate" to be only down 16 points at the half.

It was games like tonight that made me wonder why I bothered making the trip up to Connecticut. There I was, a 33-year married man as the only "media" member sitting on press row, watching a team that really hasn't put together a stretch of good basketball for more than ten minutes at one time. Without the furious and improbable comeback versus Yale, the Pioneers would be sitting there winless at 0-3 with two very difficult games in Stony Brook and Lehigh coming up.

When asked about his team's performance this season, head coach Dave Bike seemed equally perplexed. "We had three opportunities to play basketball and we haven't played well. And that's just the concern. I think we have a chance to play OK, I do."

Added Bike, "I thought we got beat twice (tonight). I think (Hartford) outplayed us at times, they shot better than us, but they also game beat us. I'm not convinced it was Hartford's defense that caused us to have listless turnovers, as the reporter says."

That "reporter" Bike was referring to was, of course, me. Yes, I used the word listless to describe the Pioneers' effort in the first half and I'm not sure Bike was too thrilled with my adjective. But from my perspective, how could I not use the word listless? Other than the frontcourt play of Femi Akinpetide and Louis Montes (who by the way looks jacked this season), there wasn't one other player tonight that was encouraging to watch. Shane Gibson went 3 of 14 from the floor. Justin Swidoswki and Nick Greenbacker combined for one point, six rebounds, and six personal fouls in 28 minutes. Steve Glowiak bricked two more three-point attempts and committed two turnovers. The Pioneer with the most energy all game? That was SHU assistant coach Anthony Latina.

Shane Gibson has now had two awful games in a row, which hasn't happened since he was a sophomore. Corban Wroe, the defensive specialist for John Gallagher's Hartford squad, did a fantastic job keeping Gibson in front of him all night forcing a bevy of outside jumpers. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, most of his shots didn't go in.

Looking ahead, it doesn't get any easier for Gibson and his team. They travel to Long Island to take on Stony Brook, whose defense has already shutdown two MAAC schools in Rider and Marist. I'll be in attendance at that game, but I'm scared at what I'll possibly witness.

I'll also be on the Pioneers' radio halftime show for the game, so I encourage you to tune in, especially if Stony Brook is up big at the half. I'm one more 16 point halftime Pioneer deficit away from completely losing it on the air!

And who knows, maybe Coach Bike will banish me from asking him questions after the game about how listless his team was.

Until next time...

Ryan Peters covers Sacred Heart Pioneers basketball for Pioneer Pride and Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride