Despite an overall record of 17-14 (10-6 America East), the 2012-13 season was a historic one for the Hartford Hawks. Why? The program made its first-ever postseason appearance as a Division I member, earning a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. As a result head coach John Gallagher was rewarded with a contract extension through the 2017-18 season, with the school announcing the news on Wednesday.
“We are extremely confident in the direction of our men’s basketball program and we’re excited to see what Coach Gallagher and his staff can build in the future,” director of athletics Pat Meiser said in the release. “The success we had this season along with what we have returning next year is very encouraging. I am pleased with the level of competitiveness and am confident that that will only continue to rise.”
Those 17 wins matched the school record for wins in a season, with the 1989-90 squad (Vin Baker was a freshman on that team) being the last to win that many games. And with this year’s team returning more than 90 percent of its points and rebounds from last season, including first team All-America East selection Mark Nwakamma (14.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg), the Hawks could potentially establish a new school record for wins in a season.
And they’ll attempt to do so in a league that looks slightly different, as Boston University left America East to join the Patriot League with provisional Division I member UMass-Lowell taking their place as America East’s ninth member. However, even with that switch Stony Brook and Vermont are still around, as is reigning America East tournament champion Albany. Hartford has the pieces needed to contend this season, and the administration believes it has the coach who can lead the program to heights it has yet to reach at the Division I level.
“I’d like to thank Walter Harrison for his faith in me,” Gallagher stated. “I would also like to thank Pat Meiser for the support she has provided to me and the program throughout the last three years.
“My family and I are grateful that we have an administration that is behind our growing program and has the same vision and the same mission as the staff here. I’m really exciting about the years to come.”
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.