2008-09 Hartford Basketball Preview: #114
Overall Rank: #114
Conference Rank: #1 America East
2007-08: 18-16, 10-6, 2nd
2007-08 postseason: none
Hartford is not used to being the favorite. The Hawks, led by Coach Dan Leibovitz, ended up as the second seed in last year’s America East conference tournament and they were expected to win some games and at least get to the finals. And they reached those expectations before losing in the finals to UMBC. Once again, the Hawks will have to spend some time as the favorites and they will be expected to live up to the expectations yet again and possibly even make their first ever NCAA Tournament.
However, the expectations will take a little hit with the departure of Warren McLedon. During his senior campaign, McLedon had a great conference tournament and averaged 12.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on the season. Finding another shotblocker and rebounder will be very important, but his scoring will be missed as well. Brian Glowiak was a quality sharpshooter off the bench and fellow guard Rich Baker started his namesake dozen games. The depth on the perimeter will lack in experience compared to last season with those two departing. Fabrice Tafo only played in two games during the 2007-2008 campaign and will not be suiting up for the Hawks this season.
The depth in the backcourt will be an important thing to keep an eye on and three freshmen will compete for some of that playing time off the bench. Charles White heads to Hartford from the storied Simon Gratz program in Philadelphia. The 6-1 point guard is a superb passer and defender, but he can put some points on the board as well. Clayton Brothers, another Philadelphia product, can score in bunches and the 6-5 Drake Uu is a solid slasher who will help out on the glass. A couple Los Angelinos head out east to help bolster the Hawks frontcourt. At 6-9 and 255 pounds, Malcolm Campbell, who has been enrolled at the school since January, is a big body under the basket. For now he should help replace some of the rebounding and shot blocking left behind by McLedon. Genesis Maciel is just as big as Campbell, but could emerge as a better scorer down the road.
Who to Watch:
The backcourt will mostly have to depend on freshmen to come off the bench, but the starting three on the perimeter have a ton of talent and experience. It all starts with Joe Zeglinski who averaged a team high 16.2 points per game. The 6-0 junior set records for his three-point shooting as a freshman, but he still only shot 29.1 percent from beyond the arc that season. Last year he boosted that number to 41.0 percent. Now that he is an upperclassman, Zeglinski’s confidence should be through the roof. Jaret Von Rosenberg can hit the outside shot as well, but his biggest asset to the team is taking care of the ball and finding his teammates. Michael Turner can find his teammates too, yet the 6-5 wing also led the team in rebounds and is a capable scorer from anywhere on the floor. Andres Torres, who averaged 10.7 minutes per game as a freshman, is the only other experienced option on the perimeter.
The frontcourt will certainly miss McLendon, yet Morgan Sabia is a solid scorer both inside and out, Anthony Minor started 33 games last year and Kevin Estes is ready to play a bigger role after a relatively successful freshman campaign. It would be nice if Maciel and Campbell could add another effective big body to the roster and at least grab some rebounds, take some fouls and play some defense, but Hartford might not even need them to play much at all to win the conference.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jaret von Rosenberg, Senior, Guard, 9.1 points per game
Joe Zeglinski, Junior, Guard, 16.2 points per game
Michael Turner, Senior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Anthony Minor, Sophomore, Forward, 4.2 points per game
Morgan Sabia, Sophomore, Forward, 10.2 points per game