As Hartford prepares for the America East playoff matchup at New Hampshire, head coach John Gallagher is adamant that senior Mark Nwakamma will be on the floor on Wednesday night.
“We’re going with him,” Gallagher said. “He’s playing. If he plays with a limp, he’s playing with a limp, so we’re riding him.”
The 6’5″ senior suffered a bone bruise halfway through the conference season, missing two games and being limited the rest of the season. The trouble, Gallagher said, has been making sure he is warmed up for action, which is why he has been a game time decision over the last few weeks and played with a limp at other times. On senior night, Nwakamma was at center court, but did not contest the game’s opening tip off and left ceremoniously after the start of the game against Stony Brook.
“I don’t think he’ll play with a limp, I think he’s going to be fine,” Gallagher said. “In the second half of the Albany game, he was cruising, that was the old school Mark. We got to get that back.”
“Here’s the issue, when you run all your stuff for four years through someone and then they take him out of the equation, it makes for some minor adjustments. So minor meaning major.”
Gallagher, in his fifth season as head coach, saw his team finish the regular season in fifth place, after being picked second in the league’s preseason poll. The Hawks rank fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 61.9 ppg, and rank eighth in three-point field goal percentage (32.7%), for a team that takes 45.7% of their shots from behind the arc.
While they are preparing to have Nwakamma, who leads the team with 11.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg, they have been adding different wrinkles to their system in case he is unable to go at New Hampshire, but did not want to show them in the final regular season game.
“I’ll play through certain guys every single possession if Mark doesn’t play,” Gallagher said. “I already have different wrinkles in that, we didn’t do tonight, so all I’m trying to say is, if I give that look to UNH and Billy Herrion are going to see that look. They’re not going to see it now.”
However, they will likely see some of the wrinkles on Wednesday night as the Hawks look to take the rubber game of a series whose games resulted in a one-point Hawks victory and a Wildcats overtime win.
Ray Curren contributed reporting for this story.
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.