|07-13-2012, 03:50 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Hartford Basketball article
By MIKE ANTHONY, email@example.com The Hartford Courant
7:10 p.m. EDT, July 12, 2012
HARTFORD — —
John Gallagher had his players gathered before him and some clear points to emphasize Tuesday afternoon when the Hartford men's basketball team continued its offseason work at Chase Family Arena.
Gallagher was particularly animated, calling out players for slight missteps as the team worked on a nuanced motion offense. He challenged players about spacing, the timing of passes, positioning and how receiving the ball in just a slightly different area, with a slightly different posture, can mean the difference between a broken play or an easy basket.
"What this helps is, it keeps the guys who know our system sharp," Gallagher said, "and it lets our incoming guys realize how much they must learn."
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Some new NCAA bylaws, implemented in January, allow players who are enrolled in summer courses to participate in training and instruction for up to eight weeks at eight hours a week. Of those eight hours, only two a week are to be spent on on-court skill instruction — the rest can be for such things as weight training or film sessions and there is no limit on the number of players who can participate in a given session. In general, that gives coaching staffs two hours of practice time a week, divided however they see fit.
At Hartford, those blocks of time are being spent on the subtle, but critical, parts of the game that, if mastered now, will make a significant difference when practice begins in October.
"The little things that will carry us through the season have to become second nature," center Mark Nwakamma said. "We don't have a lot of time to learn on the go. We have to learn now. We don't want to repeat the start we had last year."
Hartford lost its first 13 games last season but went 9-9 down the stretch and advanced to the semifinals of the America East tournament, losing in double-overtime to eventual champion Vermont. So Hartford, a 9-22 record aside, heads into the 2012-13 season with a fresh feeling of accomplishment to draw on.
Most of the Hawks' key players return, but the style of the team will be slightly different. The most noticeable change will be at point guard. Andres Torres, now playing professionally in his native Puerto Rico, graduated and sophomore Yolonzo Moore will take over. Moore played shooting guard last season as a freshman.
With seven freshmen, the Hawks weren't sharp or experienced enough to play up-tempo, as Torres preferred, so Gallagher slowed the offense to a pace of 62-64 possessions a game last season for conference play.
"We're going to open it up a little more," Gallagher said. "We'll try to get it up to 75-80 possessions. That's a direct correlation to our improved shooting."
Hartford shot 30.1 percent on three-pointers in conference play last season, dead last in the America East. That must change, and Gallagher says improved shot selection, experience and the addition of a few new players will make the needed difference. The Hawks' best three-point shooter last season was big-man Genesis Maciel at 34.6 percent.
Now, Hartford is likely to look for its frontcourt players to thrive in more traditional ways. There is balance and versatility to work with. Nwakamma became one of the better players in the America East down the stretch last season, scoring in double figures in each of the final seven games. Nate Sikma found his scoring touch, too, stretching defenses with his jump shot and giving Hartford size on the wing. Jamie Schneck missed a lot of time with an ankle injury that has healed. All three players will be sophomores with 31 games and nearly 100 practices under their belts.
"Now they're all leaders," said junior forward Oren Faulk, who appears to have made the most strides physically in the offseason. "They have experience. We're young but we know what we're doing already. We're going to be hard to stop down there."
Hartford, which opens at Chase against Quinnipiac in the Connecticut 6 Classic, figures to play more zone and feed the ball inside often, sometimes playing a power forward at the small forward spot. Gallagher considers Nwakamma and Sikma to be potential first-team all-conference players.
Hartford welcomes four new players: Evan Cooper, a 6-foot guard from The Woodlands, Texas; John Peterson, a 6-8 transfer forward from Samford University (one year of eligibility remaining), originally from Boca Raton, Fla.; Taylor Dyson, a 6-4 guard from Australia; and Antoine Burrell, a 6-7 forward from The Colony, Texas.
After Tuesday's workout, Cooper and Dyson talked about the demanding nature of their new life, about trying to learn a complicated system. Gallagher expects Peterson to contribute heavily from the perimeter. He expects more consistency from players such as Wes Cole, who as a freshman was the Hawks' most prolific, and most inconsistent, outside scoring threat.
"Just getting this time with the freshmen is important," Nwakamma said. "But it's still the same old Hawks. We're building a culture here. Players won't come in and change the personality of the team. We'll change the personality of the players. Despite how we started last season, we ended great, which is what counts. I think we can ride that momentum into the season."
|07-13-2012, 04:35 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,241Rep Power: 20480
Re: Hartford Basketball article
My 2nd fav team! I wish the Hawks a great season except for when they play the Wildcats! It seems like Coach Gallagher is bringing in talented young student athletes and I think they are going to be competing for the title sooner than later.
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