Team preview: Sacred Heart

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 20, 2004, 3:21 PM ET
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After knocking on the door of the postseason for the first time in Division I last year, the Pioneers find themselves back at square one.

Sacred Heart, which made the D-I jump five years ago, came within a game of going to the NEC Tournament. The trouble was the Pioneers had three cracks at winning that game to earn the berth and failed.

"We lost our last four games and didn't make the playoffs," coach Dave Bike said. "I was a little disappointed. … It's the best position we've been in since becoming a Division I program."

To make matters worse, the Pioneers could have still clinched if Mount St. Mary's lost one of its last three games. The Mount won out, including a critical victory over Sacred Heart.

Bike is not quite sure what to blame for the late-season collapse, but he's sure that giving up 93.3 points per game had something to do with it.

"Our defense was bad," he said. "When you can't stop people it's hard to win. You can't give up 90-plus points per game."

Now Sacred Heart hopes to regroup and try again, but it will have to do so without three cornerstones who played large roles in the programs jump to D-I. Guards Omar Wellington (9.8 ppg, 59 3-pointers), James Samuels (7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and second-team all-league selection Maurice Bailey (20.1 ppg) were all three-year starters.