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A look back at a rollercoaster ride covering Hartford

With your time as a DI school coming to a close, it’s time to say ‘so long, and thanks for all the fish!’

Hartford Hawks win 2021 America East championship
The highlight of covering Hartford was the 2021 America East championship.
Steph Crandall/Mid-Major Madness

My love of college basketball started at the University of Hartford in 2008. I was just a simple drummer in the pep band back then. But I fell in love with the game. It wasn’t until the 2013-14 season when Albany was the Little Danes that Could, and Mid-Major Madness asked me to come aboard.

I stuck to covering America East, especially Hartford as I was local to the school and had a great relationship with the athletics staff. However, I started traveling and hitting up Albany and Stony Brook along the way. Even made a few appearances in Vermont.

But Hartford was my home.

I’ve been around for all those years of struggle, until it finally paid off.

However, the Hawks’ time as a Division I team has come to an end. In their final year at the NCAA’s top level, they put together a 5-23 record and fell to Chicago State 75-53 on Sunday in the season finale.

Here are just a few memories I wanted to share as I close this chapter of my Mid-Major Madness career:

0-13 start (2011-12 season)

The year after I graduated from Hartford was probably the worst season in Hartford basketball history. It was the infamous 0-13 start, losing every single game in the non-conference as well as the conference opener.

Steph Crandall/Mid-Major Madness

Albany - Hartford - Australian Pipeline

Back in the day Hartford and Albany took to recruiting in a variety of different countries, and for a few years Australia stuck. With names forever etched into America East history like Peter Hooley, Mike Rowley and Corban Wroe, there was also a bond between the schools and even fan bases.

Steph Crandall/Mid-Major Madness

The 26-point comeback to force double-OT (2019 America East semifinal)

The season before their first appearance in the America East title game since 2007, came the 26-point comeback to force double overtime. Even though it ended in a loss.

I remember watching this game so vividly. Discouraged with the 26-point deficit, hopeful with the comeback, and then a soul-crushing final blow straight to my heart with the double-overtime loss.

I remember watching as Jason Dunne threw up 3-pointer after 3-pointer to save his chances at an America East title game. Watching J.R. Lynch and John Carroll foul out of the game, leaving the biggest decisions in the hands of some of the lesser experienced players.

But, ultimately, Hartford came up short against UMBC.

Steph Crandall/Mid-Major Madness

Breaking Vermont’s win streak (Feb. 14, 2022)

As a Hartford fan, you’re probably a little too aware of the “rivalry” between the schools. If by “rivalry” you mean “we just don’t like each other much”, then you’re spot on.

So, it was nice to see Hartford snap Vermont’s 14-game win streak with a one-point overtime victory in 2022.

Syndication: The Burlington Free Press BRIAN JENKINS/For the FREE PRESS via Imagn Content Services, LLC

America East Title/NCAA Tournament (March 2021)

The day I, and many loyal Hawks fans, were waiting for: Saturday, March 13, 2021.

We finally won! America East champions! Ticket punched to March Madness!

Steph Crandall/Mid-Major Madness

I waited 13 years for this day.

My freshman year the Hawks made it all the way to the America East final, where they played UMBC at UMBC and ended up losing the game 82-65.

It wasn’t until 2021 where they would be able to take that shot again, and this time they won it. Winning the conference championship and getting to the NCAA Tournament meant a lot to everyone involved.

No matter what happens, we can always say we did it.

Playing and losing to the eventual national champions, though? That’s an experience you can never take away.

Steph Crandall/Mid-Major Madness

To all the Hartford Hawks players who’ve come and gone, to the fans, and to the team, it’s been a good run. I hope to cover you again one day, but for now, it’s so long, and thanks for all the fish.