Heading into Tuesday night's matchup between Hartford and Holy Cross, if you had asked Hawks coach John Gallagher what was needed to excel in Hartford basketball, he would give you these three items:
- Appreciation of the Opportunity
After Hartford's 79-61 win over Holy Cross, there is but one thing to proclaim: This is Hartford Basketball.
The game started with a back and forth battle for the lead, trading baskets and going bucket-for-bucket. With seven minutes left in the first half, something magical happened as everything started to click for Hartford. They had steals, they caused turnovers, they blocked shots -- everything you would want to see in a defense. They came together as a group and were finally becoming that team everyone loved last year.
Holy Cross was no easy task, though. With a 4-2 record and one of those wins being against then No. 25 Harvard, the Crusaders were an intimidating opponent, albeit one that was struggling in its last few games.
The Crusaders began the game in a full-court press and prevented the Hawks from being the notorious 3-point shooting team they are. The lack of open shots beyong the arc led to a set of impressive moves from Mark Nwakamma driving to the basket. He ended the night with a new career high of 29 points going 14-for-18 from the floor.
There are a lot of impressive stats for the Hawks in this game such as 24 assists to only six turnovers. That's right, only six. That's a huge improvement from their last game where they had 13 turnovers and only six assists.
Corban Wroe brought in a game best 10 assists, Yolonzo Moore II (3-for-6) and Taylor Dyson (2-for-3) hit most of the threes, John Carroll had nine points and three offensive rebounds and didn't even rack up a foul in the process.
How did they manage such a turnaround? Well, besides a three-and-a-half hour talk amongst the seniors, the team settled on one thing: They weren't having fun. Tonight they definitely had fun.
"I just feel comfortable out there. It's fun. The first couple games weren't fun, but now basketball is fun. It's so much easier when you're enjoying yourself." said Mark Nwakamma.
If you are going to get on the Hartford train, now would be the time, before they take off into the conference season. Hartford's next game is Saturday at the Chase Arena against Rider.