Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sacred Heart 71, Fordham 70: Final thoughts on the Pioneers

Sacred Heart responded after Anthony Latina picked up a late technical foul, digging in to give their head coach arguably one of his biggest career wins. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

BRONX, NY -- In the wake of Sacred Heart's 71-70 victory over Fordham, one that saw the Pioneers close the game on a 16-4 run, we leave you with some final thoughts following our postgame chat with head coach Anthony Latina; one of our most ardent supporters even if we don't cover him as often, and an excellent quote in general:

1) "We caught some breaks, let's be honest."
Latina was straight to the point in summarizing Wednesday night's upset, reiterating that Sacred Heart was fortuitous to take advantage of Fordham making just eight field goals in the second half after shooting 59 percent from the floor in the opening stanza, and only two of their eleven three-point attempts after the intermission. "I was proud of the way our guys fought, proud of the way they picked me up when I got a bad technical, but our guys stepped up and I'm real proud of them," Latina admitted.

2) Offense overcame carelessness.
The Pioneers turned the ball over 24 times and surrendered 13 steals to Fordham, but shooting 61 percent (22-for-36) from the floor mitigated those statistics, as did the 86 percent assist rate (19 assists on 22 made field goals) that Latina called "a ridiculous number." "We didn't execute any plays, but we played with good principles in terms of our assists," he said. Charles Tucker led the way with eight helpers, picking up the slack on a night where Quincy McKnight committed ten turnovers alone. "It was a gut-check win, and I couldn't be happier," said Latina.

3) Could Sean Hoehn be the answer post-Cane Broome?
Hoehn, who is the cousin of Villanova legend Ryan Arcidiacono, was a difference maker for the Pioneers in their win over Hofstra; and with 17 points and six rebounds, was an integral piece to the puzzle against Fordham tonight. However, the sophomore is a long way from home. "He played great today, probably one of his best games of his career," Latina candidly assessed. "He has not been great this year, but we know it's going to come because he's such a hard worker. He's almost trying too hard, so for him to shoot the ball the way he did and have the floor game that he does, he's playing with a little more poise. We need him to play well."

4) What some may be taking for granted about the Pioneers:
That would be the depth and pieces on this year's roster. "I think a strength of our team; last year, it was about Cane and if Cane didn't get big numbers, we couldn't win," Latina said. "Now, Quincy; who arguably is our best player, had two points and ten turnovers, and we still won a game against a team that's very good. I like our depth and different guys helping out."

5) De'von Barnett's game-winning layup, in Latina's own words:
"There were a lot of timeouts because of checking the clock, so we knew what we wanted to run if they were in zone or if they were in man. The play actually broke down, and what we were trying to run, we were trying to get a three for Sean in the corner. It broke down and Charles really kept his handle, and against a team as good as Fordham, you've got to keep your hand almost Steve Nash-like. Guys will be open, and he makes a great find, De'von makes a great catch."

6) More on Barnett:
"We need De'von to be a good player. Before he got hurt last year, there was a lot of questions on who was our best player: Cane Broome or De'von Barnett. Well, De'von sits out the year because of an injury, Cane plays and now everybody forgets about De'von. Now he's starting to get healthy again. He's not 100 percent, but he's getting there, and he can be a weapon for us when he's healthy. Hopefully he'll be a weapon for us when we get into league play."

7) Was Fordham a good prep for Mount Mayhem?
Yes and no, says Latina, but he agreed by and large. "They play very similar," he cautioned. "The only difference is Mount will go a little bit more in the full court, pressure and trapping. We said it a lot in our scouting report, this is very similar because against Mount, you can't run any offense. They just trap you, so you have to play principles and move the ball."

8) Is Wednesday's win a confidence booster with six of Sacred Heart's next eight games at home?
"Hopefully," Latina optimistically proclaimed, though adding a disclaimer at the end. "Good teams are consistent," he elaborated. "If we think this makes Saturday (against Hartford) an automatic, we are foolish. If we don't play our best, we're going to lose, and our guys need to know that. The teams that have the best success are consistently good. We're not there yet, but hopefully we can be consistently good, and our depth helps us in that regard."

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