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Hartford, please don’t let me down this year

Hartford had their first shot at the title game in 12 years last season, and it was quickly swept away before they even got a chance.

NCAA Basketball: Roman Legends Classic-Villanova vs Hartford David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Coach Gal & the Hartford Men’s Basketball Team,

Hi! You may know me as the occasional blonde girl who takes photos from courtside during home games. Well, at least before this season. I’m an alumna and take pride in the school and have cheered for many a year on the sideline as part of the spirt teams.

I was a freshman way back when, the last time the team made it to the championship game. It was a crazy experience. Playing at the women’s semi-final game, getting on a bus at 9 p.m. to drive down to UMBC, only to get there for 2 a.m., to then wake up just a few hours later for the title game.

I attend every game I can and watch everyone I can’t online. I keep up with stats, with the others in the conference, and occasionally I also write about the league. You could say I’m a bit of a fan.

I’ve never lost hope that you would one day make it back to that tournament championship. Despite the years of bad seasons, the injuries, the despair, and even the comments that others had made to me about the capacity of the club, I stuck by you guys. That pride of being a Hawk kept me going, through all the tears and frustrations throughout the years.

Last year was your year.

You made it back to the title game despite all the odds. I sat baseline with the Stony Brook journalists, watching them slowly lose confidence in the game as you caught fire and showed who you can truly be. You beat Stony Brook the only time it really mattered and were on your way to that coveted title game.

Until you weren’t.

It took months to get my refund from the hotel up in Vermont because you bet your ass I was going to be driving up for that game. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But we’ll never know which team would have won that game.

I’m writing all of this because I have hope for this year. More hope than I’ve had in a while for some reason. I think you have a lot of the pieces to accomplish great things this season, regardless of how short it may be. You just need to put them together in the right place, at the right time, and I’m crossing my fingers for you for this season.

Hunter Marks is an incredible player. He has the talent and skills to do great things. And it’s not just Coach Gal who can see that now.

Traci Carter is back, and I hope he is the veteran that he needs to be. There needs to be someone who can take control of a game when needed. When things aren’t going well, there has to be someone who can take charge and fight through the bad days. I saw some of that in the Villanova game. Hopefully, you won’t have many bad days, but having that leader is key to winning games.

You need a guard who can score, and with the 24 points in the opener against UConn, Moses Flowers has shown what he’s capable of. He’s young and still learning and I can’t wait to see how much better he gets as the season goes by. That game seemed quintessential Flowers and I hope to see more of that in your future.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that DJ Mitchell is my dark horse for the team. The grit he’s shown and his refusal to give up, even when you were down 30 to Villanova, is something incredibly special and integral to a great season.

Gal, you’ve got a great group of kids, and they have an interesting season ahead of them. It’s strange times we’re living in and you never know when a team that’s placed sixth in the preseason polls can catch everyone off guard by the time March rolls around.

So, what I’m trying to say in this long, convoluted way, is, Hartford, please don’t let me down.