Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pioneer Pride's All-Favorite Sacred Heart Team

As I sat in insufferable traffic heading to work last week, I thought of a good post. (Well, at least I think I did.) How about I publish my all-favorite Sacred Heart men’s basketball team? I’ll select eight or nine of my favorite Pioneers during the program’s 14-year D-I era. Keep in mind this lineup shouldn’t be confused with SHU’s all-time team. Sure, some of these players would easily find their way on that prestigious list, but others would most likely fall short. 

Let’s begin with my starting five…

PG: Phil Gaetano, 2010 - present, sophomore
As Bill Paxton eloquently stated in his latest profile piece, the diminutive Gaetano is a throwback player – a selfless floor general who possesses excellent floor vision, an above average handle, and the late game poise needed to calmly and efficiently run an offense. I’m a sucker for those types of point guards, but they’ve been few and far between during Dave Bike’s D-I tenure. After Tavio Hobson, there hasn’t been a true assist man on this roster until Gaetano arrived for the 2011-12 season. Now in his second year, Gaetano runs the show and almost always gets three to five assists every game that no one else this side of Jason Brickman could possibly get. Sacred Heart is in really good hands for the next two and a half seasons with Gaetano controlling and dishing out the rock.

SG: Shane Gibson, 2008 - present, senior
It’s not his career scoring average of 14.4 ppg - or the 17.7 ppg averaged his past three seasons - that makes Gibson one of my favorites, but rather the efficiency at which he scores the ball. Despite receiving scores of defensive attention anytime Sacred Heart steps on the court, Gibson has always found a way to get his points and keep his Pioneers relatively competitive. His smooth jumper is fun to watch, but sometimes I really enjoy watching the opponent’s reaction after he makes one of his patented “he had no business shooting that” jumpers. The greatest Pioneer ever doesn’t need much space to get off his shot, yet this year the guard seems to be driving to the hole more as defenders crowd him on the perimeter. Gibson only has eight guaranteed games left in his collegiate career, so I encourage you all to witness the 6’2” sharpshooter before it's too late. He will definitely be missed.

G: Drew Shubik, 2003 - 2007
You heard me wax poetic before about Shubik, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he made the cut on my all-favorite team. Watching the 6'4" guard/wing made Pioneer fans appreciate his game so much more. In his breakout junior season, Shubik finished nationally ranked in effective field goal percentage, steal rate, and assist rate, while also grabbing nearly four rebounds per game. Shubik's versatility from that magical '06-07 season was amazing, but perhaps it was his transformation into a point guard the next season that was his most impressive feat. As a NEC guard, Shubik could simply do it all, even if he didn't appear to be the most physically gifted athlete on the court.

PF: Joey Henley, 2003 - 2009
Henley was your classic easy to root for, high character athlete that Bike covets. The bouncy, yet undersized Henley was often the best athlete on the floor and hardly let his bigger defenders get in the way of a career that included two All-NEC selections. To this day, he’s my favorite Pioneer not only from his on-the-court production, but also because of his teammate and leadership qualities that every star player should aspire to have. It also didn’t hurt that the Washington state native averaged 13.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game as a junior and senior. It’s such a shame Sacred Heart missed out on an NCAA tournament berth in the mid 2000s by a sliver, because Henley certainly deserved better. These days when Sacred Heart recruits and signs a big man, the dream scenario for that prospect is to turn into the next Joey Henley.

C: Tim Welch, 1999 - 2002
Finally, it’s a blast from the past! Welch is the only member of my all-favorite team who played while I attended Sacred Heart. It’s really too bad there isn’t another guy from that era here, but that’s what happens when Sacred Heart averaged only five victories per season in my last two years at the school. Nevertheless, the 6’10” Welch posted very respectable numbers of 9.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, even though he wasn’t the most physically imposing big man patrolling the paint. Other than Kibwe Trim, you can certainly make the argument that Welch was the most consistent presence in the paint for Sacred Heart in its 14 seasons as a D-I program.

And now onto my sensational bench…

G/F: Jerrid Frye, 2003 - 2007
It was a treat to hear Frye on the Sacred Heart halftime show a few weeks ago, as it brought back fond memories of the short-lived glory days of Pioneer basketball. Frye possessed a silky smooth mid-range game, which these days is simply a lost art. The lengthy Frye was very good at creating off the dribble, attacking the rim, and reeking havoc on the defensive end, which are the main reasons why I enjoyed watching him immensely. Without him, Henley, and Shubik, there’s no NEC finals appearance at Central Connecticut in 2007.

G: Chris Evans, 2010 - present, junior redshirt
There’s a reason why I gave Evans the nickname of “The Future” during his freshman season. The do-it-all player from nearby Stamford filled up the stat sheet and wasn’t one of those one-trick pony guards who just camps out at the three-point line waiting for someone else to create his shot. After his standout All-NEC Rookie team freshman campaign though, Evans played his second season with a bad wheel, which unfortunately hasn’t improved since undergoing offseason meniscus surgery. I maintain Evans’ omission from the Pioneers' current roster is their biggest loss and I doubt I’m alone in that sentiment. Hopefully with fingers crossed, the playmaker can get healthy once again. At this point, I may spray deer antler extract into his mouth next time I see him at a game.

G: Chauncey Hardy, 2006 - 2010
There was just something about the barely 6’0” guard that was so endearing to watch. He didn’t seem to have a weakness or a wonderful strength – Hardy was the type of player who could do everything at an above average level. He could pull up and shoot the three (career 41.0% 3PT), create off the dribble, fasciliate when needed on offense (career 3.0 apg), and play steady defense. After being selected to the All-NEC Rookie Team in his freshman campaign, Hardy oddly never matured into an all-conference selection, but nonetheless averaged at least 10.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals in his final three seasons. It was one of those quietly productive NEC careers. May Chauncey rest in peace.

G: Corey Hassan, 2008 - 2011
The New Hampshire kid with the moniker "Hassan the assassin" cements my bench as the lethal three point specialist. Truth be told, Hassan did so much more than that for Bike, earning him an eventual NEC scoring title and an All-NEC Second Team selection. His quirky shooting stroke may not have produced the prettiest mechanics, but Pioneer fans always felt good when Hassan’s rainbow arc shot was heading toward the basket.

Sure, it’s a small team overall, but Dave Bike loves guards so I felt this was only fitting. Do you have a favorite Pioneer I left out?

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 comment:

  1. If you had a bigger bench I'd put Kimbwe Trim on the squad. Not a sensational player but great size and gave you the occasional SportsCenter dunk. Always fun to watch him play.