Hartford Embracing Expectations For Season

Expectations are high in Hartford, after all the Hawks were picked second in the America East’s preseason poll and received two first place votes.

Hartford senior Mark Nwakamma is set to help bring the Hawks to their first NCAA tournament. (photo courtesy: Stockton Photo)

However, head coach John Gallagher has continued to build on his message that they have earned the right to compete and go after their first NCAA tournament appearance.

“Let’s just go out and enjoy playing with each other,” Gallagher said of his message to the team. “Let’s go embrace this experience. Let’s just go compete with each other.”

The Hawks recently upgraded their locker room with a $600,000 renovation, but the main renovations to their roster have been adding young players such as freshman John Carroll and getting players like seniors Yolonzo Moore II and Nate Sikma healthy for the start of the season.

Hartford played two closed scrimmages. Gallagher would like to see the Hawks cut into their turnover rate this season. The difference of a few percentage points could be what separates a contending season from a disappointment, but Gallagher feels that they have addressed that issue in Australia and in practice.

“We’ve had our moments on both sides, but we’ve shown things that I haven’t seen, we’ve shown some great toughness in tough spots,” Gallagher said of his team’s two closed scrimmages. “I believe that the group has really grown and is really mentally tough.”

“I think this is a group that just really understands they want to leave this place better than they found it, which they’ve already done, but they want to do things that have never been done here.”

Senior Mark Nwakamma was named to the first team All-America East, but Gallagher feels that he shouldn’t have any pressure to perform considering the weapons around him this season.

“We try to get him to be in the attack mindset, for him it’s really simple, if it’s one-on-one in the post go score. and if there’s a double team simple pass out and we’ll play from there,” Gallagher said. “We’ve really simplified the reads for him.”

Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

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