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Sports Commentary 11/16/12

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Congrats to CCSU Basketball Coach Howie Dickenman on win #250…

“Bill Detrick doesn’t have to worry that I’m gonna surpass his number of 468″, is how Central Connecticut men’s basketball coach Howie Dickenman reacted when career win number 250 was acknowledged after an 86-71 win over Brown last night in New Britain, “I’m just looking forward to number 251, hopefully sometime soon.” Of all the coaches in all the sports Detrick stands as the most legendary in Central Connecticut lore, but the door is rapidly opening to Howie’s own place in Blue Devil Valhalla. I would never discount Bill Detrick’s record, or his status as one of the true gentlemen ever to grace the Connecticut sports scene, but his record was established in a different era at a different level. Central Connecticut was a division two power during Detrick’s years, three of which he had an All American rebounder named Howie Dickenman helping him fill the record books. Howie’s move from Jim Calhoun’s associate head coach at UConn to his alma mater was the brainchild of then Central athletic director, and former Dickenman teammate, Charlie “C.J..” Jones. The charge was to build a perennial contender for the Northeast Conference’s automatic invitation to the division one tournament. Three times Howie has gotten them there, where they’ve never been embarrassed despite finding themselves at the long end of some unfair mismatches. At the division one level he’s had a 25 win season and in one season he produced the nation’s longest winning streak. You don’t do it with smoke and mirrors at this level, you work with what you’ve got, and Howie’s a master at finding his strengths and working to them. Last night this year’s strength was on display in win number 250, right from the opening tip. The Blue Devils set the pace, and it was a dead run. It was the running game that built a 19 point lead, but, at times, it was the running game that let it get away, Brown getting back within four late in the game. With a sophomore, guard Kyle Vinales, leading the way and setting the pace, while juniors Matt Hunter and Terrell Allen work in new dimensions to their games and athletic freshman Brandon Peel is likely to become a key component in all aspects of the game, running can be dangerous, the play sometimes getting ahead of the young player, leading to mistakes. But Howie is determined to give them their head and he vows they’ll be an entertaining team to watch. “It’s difficult to tell kids to slow down”, he says of the style he’s adopted for this year, “You might say ‘Work for a good shot’ but if they want to go it’s basically the theme of the year, to have fun and push the ball up the court. If we can get it up and get some good looks early we need to take advantage of them.” Howie bows to his mentor in discounting his own record at Central, but I’m not going to be so quick to dismiss his chances of one day owning that top spot in Blue Devils history, and Bill Detrick wouldn’t begrudge him one win of a new record, but I now know this about Howie’s pursuit of the next 250. It’ll begin on the run, and it will be fun to watch. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.

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