Friday, February 22, 2013

3 Reasons Why You Should Attend Sacred Heart's Last Home Game

This Friday, Sacred Heart received a headline from of all places, but it had nothing to do with the men’s basketball team that currently sits in seventh place in the Northeast Conference. Instead, it was focused on Don Cook’s replacement, who will undoubtedly become the most famous athletic director in the nation, not just in the cozy Northeast.

In case you have been living under a rock or simply can’t handle the internet after watching SHU suffer another painstaking loss to Quinnipiac last night, Bobby Valentine – yes that Bobby Valentine – will take over for Don Cook on July 1st as the next athletic director for Sacred Heart. July is more than five months away, so excuse me now as I defer my opinions of Bobby V for another time. And now with that out of the way, please allow me to implore you all as to why all Pioneer fans should attend tomorrow basketball doubleheader at the Pitt Center.

1) Come Support the Newtown Community

All you have to do is show up and buy a ticket to the enticing doubleheader between the Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac women and the Sacred Heart and CCSU men at 3:30 pm. A portion of the proceeds will generously go to The Newtown Scholarship Association’s Sandy Hook Elementary School Memorial Scholarship Fund. There will be several events on site for kids, including an autograph session with both the men’s and women’s teams. Even if you don’t care much for the product on the Pitt Center floor (trust me, I’m not a fan sometimes), Saturday is a wonderful opportunity to donate and support the children of Newtown, CT who’ve dealt with an unfathomable and absolute nightmare in their quaint town.

Besides, I can’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday this way: Have a greasy belt-busting lunch at the Merritt Canteen, get ushered around aimlessly by SHU’s Public Safety before parking, stop in Sacred Heart’s six million dollar chapel for a quick prayer, get Femi Akinpetide and Nick Greenbacker’s autograph, have my face painted, and then watch Sacred Heart battle a couple of in-state rivals inside the conference. Sounds like great fun to me! (No seriously, it does…expect for maybe the face painting part.)

2) Saying Goodbye to a Sacred Heart Legend

They grow up so fast, as it only seems like yesterday that a skinny Shane Gibson was coming off the Pioneer's bench to bomb threes in 2009. Today’s Shane Gibson is a little more (OK, a LOT more) jacked and has deservedly earned the title as Sacred Heart’s greatest Division I player of all time. I mean just look at his career numbers:

1,981 career points scored (first at SHU and fifth overall in NEC)
272 made three-pointers (first at SHU and eighth overall in NEC)
41.5% career three-point shooting percentage
85.1% career free throw shooting percentage

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s just a wonderful display of scoring and efficiency and this Saturday is your last chance to catch Gibson in his home whites. The fifth year senior is likely to crack the 2000 point mark versus CCSU (19 points away), so you’ll also be treated to an opportunity to witness Gibson crack another historic NEC milestone. Seriously, if you consider yourself one of the true 517 Pioneer fans out there, you’d be a damn fool if you missed out on a chance to experience the sudden rush of calm when Gibson hoists up his patented line drive three-pointer. There are hardly any better drugs than that, although I bet you could find some good stuff if you meander down Park Avenue for a few miles. (And remember kids, don’t forget to say “brown bag” at the shady liquor store counter should you desire some fiery spirits and lukewarm Natty Lite after 9 PM.)

In addition, this may be the last time you’ll see Dave Bike patrolling the sidelines, barking at referees with the same ferocity as my wife directs toward the TV when she realizes Revenge or The Bachelor is a rerun. This is pure speculation – and no, I didn’t get this from the same source who told me the Bobby Valentine interview was a farce, damn you coveted Pioneer Pride source – but you just never know when the big guy will decide to hang up the outdated, bland grey sports coat for good. Given that Don Cook is leaving, it’s completely plausible that Bike would do the same when the Pioneers’ season concludes.

3) Because You Care About NEC Playoff Basketball, Stupid!

Saturday’s basketball doubleheader begins with the second place lady Pioneers hosting the big bad Quinnipiac Bobcats, who can clinch a #1 seed with a win. You may not enjoy women’s basketball as much, but do your school proud by showing up to support Ed Swanson’s club. I don’t care what the sport is, anytime Quinnipiac has a chance to secure a #1 seed in its sports playoffs on Sacred Heart’s soil, the fans/students need to prevent that from happening at all costs. (For those interested, here Craig D’Amico’s excellent game preview of Quinnipiac versus Sacred Heart.)

For the second half of the doubleheader, the seventh place Pioneers will meet the ninth place Blue Devils for a desperate game of the round ball. This isn’t far off from a play-in game for the NEC postseason tournament (only the top eight teams qualify), therefore with both team’s back to the wall, it’s safe to expect some inspired, high energy play. Both clubs are struggling badly and are a combined 1-7 in their last eight (thank you Fairleigh Dickinson!). Soooo, you’re saying someone has a chance to win?!?! Why, yes they do!

Moreover, this game promises to employ a quick up-tempo style with both teams gladly pushing the pace. Trust me, this matchup won't imitate your typical Big Ten battle where the first team to 55 wins the game. I’d expect to see some fireworks in this one between Gibson and the CCSU’s stars, Kyle Vinales and Matthew Hunter.

I hope to see everyone there. I’ll be at center court, a few rows back opposite the benches intently watching the SHU Dance Te….I mean basketball team. If you see me shedding a tear after Gibson calmly sinks his fourth three-pointer of the game, do me a solid and had me a tissue. And also do the same if Howie Dickenman’s ridiculously shorthanded Blue Devils find a way to pull out a tight one late.

Until next time...

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


  1. Awesome post, I want to check out a couple of your other messages. Thank you!