by Daniel Fappiano
For 20 seasons, Howie Dickenman led the Central Connecticut State University men’s basketball team. On Saturday, the former four-time Northeast Conference Coach of the Year was immortalized forever as he was inducted into the NEC Hall of Fame.
Dickenman becomes the first Blue Devil coach to be inducted since Corsley Edwards and Kelly Shimmin in 2014; Edwards, Shimmin and Dickenman are the only current NEC Hall of Famers from CCSU.
During his tenure as head coach, Dickenman held an overall 282-311 record while leading the team to three NEC Championships and NCAA Tournament berths. The Blue Devils had never reached the NCAA Tournament prior to Dickenman.
Dickenman also coached five NEC Player of the Year winners during his time at Central: Rick Mickens, Ron Robinson, Javier Mojica, Ken Horton and Edwards. As proud as he is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Dickenman says his induction is just as telling of his players and assistant coaches as it is himself.
“It feels great. Very honored that they recognized me, but when they do that, they also recognize former players,” Dickenman said. “We had five players of the year during my tenure and I had terrific assistant coaches. They all had a part in this honor I received. If I didn’t have terrific assistants or very good players this would not have happened.”
When he retired in 2016, Dickenman was one of just 13 coaches in the nation who had coached at least 20 years with one program. He still relishes the opportunity he had to lead CCSU’s men’s basketball team.
“It’s my alma mater, so it’s special,” Dickenman said. “Once you’re a Central guy, you’re always a Central guy. I always think there’s a bond between Central alums and there’s always that warm feeling from the people who have graduated throughout the decades from the land of the Blue Devils.”
Dickenman doesn’t have one moment that stands out to him during his time at CCSU. He says he loved watching the players grow and become a team every year. However, Central’s former coach does remember a special moment involving one of his players following the 2007 NEC Championship.
“I remember that press conference after we won in ’07,” Dickenman said. “They interviewed some of our players and they asked Obie Nwadike, ‘How do you feel?’ He said, ‘This is the second happiest day in my life. The happiest is when I graduate.’”
With Dickenman stepping down in 2016, Donyell Marshall was brought in as the new head coach. The two had a prior connection, as Dickenman was an assistant coach when Marshall played at UConn.
Central’s newest head coach had nothing but good things to say about Dickenman, stating that he has been an integral part of his first two years as a Blue Devil.
“He’s been there. He’s helping me every step of the way,” Marshall said. “He continues to keep me upbeat. He’s one of the guys that lets me go to sleep at night, because he continues to stay upbeat. He’s been very supportive and that’s been the best part.”
Coach Dickenman still plans to be involved with the CCSU men’s basketball team. He attends every game he can and still maintains an office on campus. While he may not be the head coach anymore, he is still an important asset to the success of the men’s basketball team.
Dickenman encapsulated what it means to be a Blue Devil. He played for CCSU before coming back and coaching them to their highest success as a team. Now, he’ll always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in conference history as he enters the NEC Hall of Fame.