BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Sacred Heart men's basketball was selected second in the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The poll, voted on by the league's head coaches, was revealed on Wednesday at NEC Social Media Day at the Barclays Center. Sacred Heart received three of the 10 possible first-place votes from the league's other coaches.
With the Pioneers being picked second in the preseason poll, it marks the first time that the Pioneers were picked that high since the 2008-09 season, where SHU was picked to finish second as well. That season, the Pioneers finished with a 17-14 record and earned the third seed in the NEC Tournament, where the Pioneers eventually were knocked out in the NEC Semifinals by No. 2 seeded Mount St. Mary's.
"It's not about where you start, it's about where you finish," said head coach Anthony Latina. "What we are trying to do is worry about things that matter. Whether we are picked first, second or last doesn't matter. We were picked ninth last season and were a possession away from possibly being the number-one seed."
The Pioneers were picked to finish ninth last season, but with a 15-17 overall record and 11-7 finish in NEC-play, the Pioneers were able to secure the third seed in the NEC Tournament. Despite being eliminated in the first round of the NEC Tournament, SHU managed to win 15 games in a season for the first time since the 2014-15 season and won 10 or more home games for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
LIU was picked to finish first with five first-place votes, followed by SHU. Saint Francis U. was picked third with one first-place vote and reigning NEC Tournament champions Fairleigh Dickinson was picked fourth with two first-place votes. Robert Morris, Bryant, Mount St. Mary's, St. Francis Brooklyn, Wagner, Central Connecticut and Merrimack rounded out the poll.
The Pioneers were also represented on the Preseason All-NEC team, with junior E.J. Anosike earning one of the five spots.
Last season, Anosike became the second player in program history to win the NEC Most Improved Player Award after averaging 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. In NEC-play, Anosike averaged 15.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 56% from the floor and 42% from three-point range to earn All-NEC Second Team honors as a sophomore.
SHU returns four starters from last season, including Cameron Parker and Koreem Ozier who earned All-Rookie honors last season and the reigning NEC Defensive Player of the Year in Jare'l Spellman. The Pioneers open the season on Nov. 5 at Providence.