The Sacred Heart University men’s basketball team comes into the 2021-2022 season ranked sixth in the Northeast Conference (NEC) preseason poll. This is the third time in the past four seasons where the Pioneers have been picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference.
“Thankfully, our preparation for this season has been a lot more normal considering what we went through last season,” said head coach Anthony Latina. “Our guys have worked very hard this fall to be as ready as possible for the start of the season and we are grateful to be playing in front of fans again this year.”
Sacred Heart currently holds the most conference game wins in the previous three seasons, posting 32 wins. The Pioneers look to build off last season’s success as they bring back 98% of their offense.
“My expectations for this season are the same as they always are, which is to finish in the top four in our league and put ourselves in the best position to win our conference tournament and get to the NCAA Tournament,” said Latina.
Latina recently added a familiar face to his staff. Four-year starter Sean Hoehn ‘19 returned to Sacred Heart after being named director of basketball operations.
“I am thrilled to be a part of my alma mater,” said Hoehn. “This place brought some amazing memories, and I am excited to make many more.”
Hoehn had his fair share of accolades during his playing career for the Pioneers. He currently sits at fifth in most three-pointers made in Sacred Heart history, is a member of the 1,000 point-club (1,366 total) and was First-Team All-Northeast Conference as a senior.
“I had so many great memories while playing here at SHU,” said Hoehn. “The lifelong friendships you can’t compete with. Just being able to be with my friends the whole time is something I wouldn’t change!”
Hoehn began his coaching career in his home state of New Jersey at Drew University during the 2019-20 campaign as a volunteer assistant coach. Prior to coaching, the Morristown, N.J. native pursued a professional basketball career overseas.
“He was a great player for us here at Sacred Heart but what really separated Sean was his elite work ethic and commitment to being the best player he could be,” said Latina. “He was a great leader and role model as a player, and he will continue to be so for our players.”
In their season opener, the Pioneers picked up a narrow 86-81 upset win in overtime against the La Salle University Explorers. The win over the Explorers marked Latina’s 100th career win.
“I have been fortunate to have very good players and a terrific coaching staff through the years as well as an administration that supports what we are doing,” said Latina. “A lot goes into winning at this level, and I am grateful for the institutional support I have always received.”
Before taking over head coach duties, Latina spent eight seasons as an assistant coach for Sacred Heart.
“This program and this university mean a great deal to me,” said Latina. “Nothing motivates me more than the thought of giving our wonderful community a championship caliber team.”
The Pioneers will face off against a plethora of non-conference programs such as Brown University on Dec. 5, the University of Rhode Island on Dec. 7 and the University of Hartford on Dec. 22. Conference games will start Dec. 29, when Sacred Heart will take on Long Island University (LIU) at the Pitt Center.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.