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Sports Commentary 1/3/13: Scott looks at the University of Hartford Men’s Basketball Program

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Scott looks at the University of Hartford Men’s Basketball Program…

John Gallagher is now just 924 wins behind Mike Krzyzewski, not that anyone is counting. Certainly the pursuit of the Duke legend’s 952 and counting is the last thing on the mind of the University of Hartford coach, he’s just happy to be dealing with a different attitude this season, a winning attitude. “It’s a huge difference”, says Hartford star forward Mark Nwakamma of the new attitude at the Reich Family Pavilion. Nwakamma wasn’t quite sure how much of a difference there is between last year’s start and this season’s 8-6 record after 14 games, including a win in their America East opener. “At this time last year we were 0-13 or 0-14″, he started after last night’s win over Binghampton, before being abruptly interupted by Gallagher, who may not count wins, but is certainly aware of losses. “0-13″, said Gallagher, bringing Nwakamma’s count to an abrupt halt. “There’s more excitement, more happiness”, the sophomore forward continued, “It’s fun right now playing for Hartford, for coach Gallagher and for our teammates.” Nwakamma says the 0-13 experience of last year did not come without an upside. “Going through what we did last year prepared us for this year. We’re a talented team. We have people who can play.” Gallagher would prefer not to go through that experience again, but he agrees with Nwakamma, it was one this year’s team can feed off. “We have a calling card this season”, said Gallagher, “And that calling card is we were tough enough to get through 0-13. If you’re tough enough to do that you can do a lot of things.” 0-13 to start the season took the Hawks to the brink of a major accomplishment at the end of the campaign, as they came within seconds in double overtime against top seed Vermont of reaching the America East championship game. “The stage we’re at now is the maturity stage”, said Gallagher, “I need to see growth and I think I’m seeing it.” Gallagher also agrees with Nwakamma about the attitude that comes with the transformation from an 0-13 team, and that difference was on display last night when Binghampton twice came back to tie the Hawks in the second half and cut the deficit to one with five seconds to play. “When you know you’re in a close game and you’re confident you can win it”, said Gallagher, “that’s a good feeling.” With the Hawks up two with 24 seconds to play sophomore Wes Cole cold bloodedly buried a trey to up the ante to five. “Hitting that shot when he’s oh for eight, that’s a huge shot. That’s a guy that has tremendous confidence”, said Gallagher, indicating that in that one moment Cole personified the new look and feel of Hartford basketball, the look and feel of a team that was picked to finish seventh in the league but is now ready to serve notice. The 28 wins on John Gallagher’s resume are a long way from 952, about as far as 8-6 is from 0-13, a record he’ll someday look back at and simply refer to as his starting point. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.

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