Hartford’s Gallagher Thankful For Standard Set By Seniors

This was not how it was supposed to unfold for Hartford’s John Gallagher in year five.

His senior laden team, ranked third in the preseason, struggled to score and live up to lofty in-conference expectations. The Hawks finished fifth in scoring with 61.9 points per game, were never fully healthy, and yet still managed 14 wins and were a few key plays in overtime from winning an America East playoff game.

Gallagher said that if 14 wins are a disappointment, that it is a great sign for a program that has lost 20 games or more five times in the past 11 seasons.

“The seniors that are graduating have done such a good job in elevating the program that it is a disappointing year,” said Gallagher reflecting on the past season. “When you look at the way it unfolded, every team in America has injuries and the reality is you have to have great depth.”

“I think we’re doing that now, but the we had three transfers sitting out, so depth – if injuries happened – we knew were going to be an issue and that unfolded in front of our eyes, but that’s not an excuse.”

Senior Mark Nwakamma suffered a bone bruise midway through conference play and was visibly limited the rest of the season. Without the first team preseason all-conference pick on a team that didn’t have any other player average more than 10 ppg, the Hawks were dealt with a hole in their lineup that was difficult to replace.

When asked if the 14-16 record as well as fifth place finish in conference play was a disappointment personally, Gallagher said he was happy for what the seniors helped build.

“The DNA in their blood is now in our program,” Gallagher said. “I don’t look at it as a one-year thing, I look at it as a program we’re headed in the right direction and they’ve done a great job of establishing that.”

“We didn’t win as many games as we wanted to, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t leave it better than they found it. They sure did.”

The Hawks return co-6th Man of the Year Justin Graham as well as now experienced big men John Carroll and Jack Hobbs, but will likely rely on a trio of transfers to help fill the back court void. Fordham transfer Jake Fay, Eastern Michigan transfer Jalen Ross, and New Mexico transfer Cleveland Thomas will be expected to take on large roles on a team that loses 62.7% of its scoring to graduation but still wants to keep building.

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 among others  for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

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