Category Archives: Basketball

Hoops for Homeless Supports Children in New Britain Community

by Tyler Roaix

The fourth annual Hoops for Homeless event took place April 30 in New Britain. The event is an all-ages annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament staged on Main Street in downtown New Britain next to Central Park. All proceeds from this event will be given to local projects that will directly address homelessness in New Britain. The Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, the Friendship Service Center of New Britain and the Prudence Crandall Center headline the beneficiaries.

Jacob Werblow is a professor of Teacher Education at Central Connecticut and also one of the co-founders of the tournament.

“This is a fundraiser as well as advocacy for children and family who are homeless in New Britain,” said Werblow. “So all the money that’s raised, all the proceeds raised from this event are given directly to organizations that work to support children and families in our community.”

According to Werblow, there are over 200 children in the New Britain public school system who are classified as homeless. This doesn’t necessarily mean they live on the streets. They could be residing in temporary housing, living with a neighbor or family member or even living with other families in a one bedroom complex.

Camden Musgrave, a player on the CCSU women’s team, was also a referee for the event. She shared what it’s like to be a part of the experience.

“We’re here to support our community and help our kids grow to be great athletes, one day hopefully they support Central. We like to encourage sportsmanship both on and off the court from both parents and players,” said Musgrave.

“Referees as well as many CCSU students are behind the scenes who help setup, help distribute materials, helping with the event,” said Werblow. “So we are very blessed to have everyone here.”

Registration for the benefit was $50 per team this year. More information can be found at or at the group’s Facebook page.

Contributed reporting by Chante Davis.

Welcome, Donyell

by Dillon Meehan

After days of speculations and rumors, Central Connecticut officially announced the hiring of Donyell Marshall last Wednesday.

The following day, CCSU held a press conference in Founder’s Hall to formally introduce Marshall as the tenth coach in the programs history.

After landing a job as an assistant at the University of Buffalo, Marshall will be taking his first job as a head coach.

Marshall will be replacing Howie Dickenman, who is not only the man who coached him at UConn, but recruited him out of high school.

“You look at the career he has had, and the money he has made, and he is still one of the most humble, thankful and appreciative people you will ever meet,” said Dickenman about his former player.

It will be a tough situation for Marshall, who is being brought in to turn around a program that has been stagnant for the past few years. Luckily enough, he has the experience of playing under not only coach Jim Calhoun, but also under Jerry Sloan and with Lebron James.

“When you have a guy like that in your corner who has won three national championships, to be able to pick up the phone and call a guy like that is relaxing,” said Marshall following his press conference. “I’ve learned a lot from the greats that I played with and sometimes being able to call those guys and giving them a chance to talk to those guys in front of the team has always been helpful.”

Calhoun attended the press conference with his son, Jeffery, who roomed with Marshall while at UConn.

“When [Stephen] Curry hit those 12 three pointers last week who’s record did he tie? Donyell Marshall’s. When the Cavs drafted Lebron James number one overall in 2003, who did they have him live with? Donyell Marshall, because of his mature approach to the game. I think Central is getting a really special guy,” said Calhoun of his former player.

Marshall said he told players on Wednesday that the season has already begun. With seven months until the season opener, many expect this team to learn from his high basketball IQ.

“It felt great, I had a one-on-one talk with him and it was awesome. He told me about how excited he was for the future and everything he intends to do for us, and I think he’s going to do a great job at it,” said freshman forward Evan Phoenix.

The hope is that Marshall’s 15-year NBA experience will help bring in recruits. Marshall was the recruiting coordinator and helped with player development while helping lead Buffalo to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and the first team to win back-to-back Mid-American Conference titles in 14-years.

Lack of Rotation Continues To Hurt Blue Devils

by Dillon Meehan

It has been a rough stretch over the past five years for Central Connecticut’s Mens Basketball team. The team has a combined record of 42-85 dating back to 2011, and the last time the team finished with a winning record was back during the 2010 season.

This season has not been kind to the Blue Devils either, three weeks into the season the Blue Devils are currently 0-7, having lost four of their games this season by 16 points or more. In the three single digit losses, the Blue Devils have somehow found a way to consistently make mental mistakes. Whether it was poor foul shooting, increased turnovers or getting into foul trouble, there was always a mental error that was the main cause for the loss.

After a handful of years finishing just under the .500 [50 percent winning percentage] mark for the season, last year was brutal for Blue Devil fans. Preseason injuries and off the field issues left the team without much depth, and forced the Blue Devils and Head Coach Howie Dickenmann to rely heavily on his starters. Which would often lead to players being extremely fatigued in the closing minutes of each game, leading to missed free throws or shots falling just short. This ultimately led to the Blue Devils losing the majority of their close games.

Despite seeing this situation play out for almost 30 games last season, it appears as though history is repeating itself once again for the Blue Devils. Despite having signed five freshmen over the offseason and have three starters returning, managing minutes continues to be a major issue.

In the opener against Hartford in the Connecticut 6 Classic, junior guard Khalen Cumberlander played 49 out of 50 minutes, and every minute of the second half and overtime. Despite coming back from a season full of minor nagging issues, Dickenmann decided to run his best player into the ground on the very first night. Six games later, not much has changed. Apart from last week’s blowout loss against Fordham, where Cumberlander only played 27 minutes, he has played 35 minutes or more in four of the past five outings.

It goes without saying that coaches need to rely on their best players in order to win games, but players need rest in order to consistently play at a high level. The depth is there, players such as Kevin Seymour, Jahlil Nails, Austin Nehls and J.J. Cratit are all worthy of earning play-time, eventually lineup changes have to be made.

With the Blue Devils having such depth at the guard position, it’s puzzling to see Dickenmann refuse to rest arguably his best player. While it might not yet be a problem, the wear and tear of playing a significant amount of time in November and December, can have major repercussions during conference play in January and February.

With only a handful of games left before conference play starts in January, Dickenmann needs to find out how to balance his players time on the field and trust his younger players to carry the load.

Sitting Down with Brandon Peel

by Analisa Novak

Photo by: Devin Leith-Yessian

Brandon Peel came to Central Connecticut almost four years ago from Forestville, Maryland ready to take to the courts on through a new perspective.

In the recent years, CCSU had major offensive player departures, leaving a huge whole on the roster. Peel, coming from a defensive background his whole life, stepped into the offensive role as forward and has continuously excelled in it.

You would have never figured by watching him play that he just recently became a forward. “I really like it, anything to help the team win. I do want to leave with a thousand point score,” said Peel.

At the rate Peel is playing he will beat that thousand point goal, he is currently sitting at 800.

Peel has been playing league basketball since he was five and said he hasn’t stopped since then, “I started young, during kindergarten playing for a little league for my elementary school and fell in love with it ever since.”

When it comes to training, he relies on his speed as an advantage during games. “I do a lot of running because I know I can beat a lot of people my size on the floor and I do a lot of midrange shooting which has become my forte on the court,” said Peel.

Peel has become a mentor to many of new faces putting on the blue and white CCSU jersey. “At times it can become kind of nerve racking knowing I’m one of the only ones with real experience on the team but at this point they are physically ready, it’s just learning the game and learning to play the game with their heads and not their body.”

Peel, who is team captain, stated he sees a lot of hope for the upcoming future, “Although we have a very young team this year, I am very confident that the team will start pulling away wins, they are still learning how to play the game at the division one level but I’m really confident about the upcoming season.”

In a short four years, Peel accomplished a lot and with five days of practice and a full-time school schedule. It’s amazing how he keeps himself centered, “I’ve always lived by, if you work hard, great things will come,” said Peel.

Peel, an English major has also maintained a 3.0 GPA throughout his four years and plans to graduate with it. “People always say that being an athlete and balancing school is all about time management and finding the time to get my work done.”

As an English major, Peel wants a career in writing after he tries to peruse a professional career in basketball overseas. “Right now going overseas to play basketball is my primary goal. But at the same time, getting my education is also on the top of the list. I wouldn’t put them on top of each other, I would say these two goals are side-by-side.”

Catch number 34, Brandon Peel play his last season as a Blue Devil at their next home game Friday, Dec. 18th against UMass Lowell.


Blue Devils Still Searching for Elusive First Win

by Dillon Meehan

The Central Connecticut Men’s Basketball team had both of their comeback attempts fall short this past week after dropping back to back home losses against Maine and Binghamton.

The Blue Devils (0-5) have yet to find their first win of the season, with three of their five losses coming by nine points or less. It is safe to safe that once again, this team is having issues with close games.

This past Tuesday against Binghamton, junior guard Khalen Cumberlander and senior forward Brandon Peel continued to be the lone bright spots for the Blue Devils.

Following his phenomenal performance in the home opener, Cumberlander finished with 18 points and four assists. Peel had 12 points and 13 rebounds, for his third double-double of the season.

Freshman Austin Nehls, who had flashes of brilliance this season, was able to find a rhythm and scored a career-high 17 points off of the bench. Making five of seven shots from beyond the arch.

The Blue Devils trailed by one following the first half and despite coming out strong for the final 20 minutes, the Binghamton Bearcats hit their first six three-pointers of the second half to go on a 15-3 lead.

The Blue Devils had an opportunity to comeback, a 9-0 run late in the game to make it 63-62 – but once again, CCSU failed to capitalize on their opportunities and once again failed to deliver in the closing moments of a game.

History repeated itself over the weekend, when CCSU hosted the Maine Black Bears.

Nehls and Cumberland continued their fine stretch of play, both led the team in scoring with 15 points. It was the third time in five games that Cumberlander has led the team in scoring.

CCSU found themselves trailing by double digits midway through the second half, but a couple of great plays by Cumberlander and Nehls gave the Blue Devils the lead with 4:34 left to play in the game.

Like clockwork, CCSU’s inability to score in late game situations returned as they were held without a field goal for the final two minutes of the game.

While there is not a singular reason for these issues to be consistently happening on a regular basis, a large part of the blame can be put on coaching. Often times the Blue Devils rely on isolation plays in the closing moments of the game, which was one of the key reasons for their defeat in double overtime against Hartford.

However, the blame needs to be shared by the players as well. Coaches are not going to always make the right call and the players still have to go out and occasionally improvise. Following a 5-26 season that saw the Blue Devils lose 14 games by single digits, there are changes that need to be made. But at the moment, it appears as though the answers are not clear.

Blue Devils Drop Season Opener In Double Overtime Against Hartford

by Dillon Meehan

Photo – Devin Leith-Yessian, The Recorder. Khalen Cumberlander dribbles up the court.


Coming off an impressive performance in their tuneup game against Mitchell College, the Central Connecticut Men’s Basketball team dropped their season opener Friday night against the University of Hartford Hawks 92-83, in double overtime.

The game was the third and final act of the Connecticut 6 Classic, an annual event that showcases CCSU, Fairfield University, Hartford, Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University and Yale University.

With Matt Mobley now playing for St. Bonaventure, Khalen Cumberlander appeared to now be the focal point of the Blue Devils’ offense. The junior from Washington, D.C. finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, all while playing 49 of a possible 50 minutes. Cumberlander was two assists shy of becoming the first Northeast Conference player to have a triple-double since 2010.

Mustafa Jones once again showed his improvement, leading the Blue Devils in scoring last week during the exhibition opener. The sophomore made six of his seven shots, scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds. The lone senior Brandon Peel continued to show his consistency, despite being limited in regulation due to foul trouble, Peel had 15 points and 10 rebounds, his first of many double-doubles. The senior also finished with five blocks.

Hartford’s Taylor Dyson led the team in scoring, the senior finished with 17 points and five rebounds. Including the game stealing offensive rebound in the final minute of the second overtime.

“Coming in I thought I had to step up a lot more than I actually have,” said Dyson of his performance. “Our freshman have come in and been really competitive, and they’ve actually pushed me to another level too. I feel they kinda help me out as much as I can help them out.”

The Blue Devils held a 31-30 lead at the end of the first half, they grabbed the lead after holding the Hawks without a field goal for the final 4:17 of the half. In total, Hartford only shot 35.7 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

However, the second half was a different story. The Hawks started the final 20 minutes strong, outscoring the Blue Devils 20-6.

Down 50-37 midway through the second half, Cumberlander began to take over the game. The junior made two three-pointers on back to back possessions, then assisted on five of the next nine baskets for the Blue Devils.

The game was sent into its first overtime when Blue Devils freshman Jahlil Nails caught an inbound pass from Cumberlander, then made a fade-away three from the right corner with 11.2 seconds left to play in regulation. It was a solid performance for the freshman, who finished with 11 points, while shooting 3-8 from behind the arch.

The Blue Devils had an opportunity to win the game at the end of the first overtime, but Cumberlanders step-back jumper was just a hair too long.

In the second overtime, Hartford got off to an early 84-80 lead when Jalen Ross and Justin Graham both made layups. The Blue Devils were able to cut the lead to one, but held scoreless for the final two minutes of overtime. Hartford made eight consecutive foul shots to seal the victory.

Blue Devil fans can see CCSU take on Binghamton next week on Tuesday, Nov. 24th at 7 p.m.

Relax Celtics Fans, Stevens Isn’t Leavin’


by Dillon Meehan

Less than two years ago, Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge traded away head coach Doc Rivers and brought in 36-year-old Brad Stevens from Butler. Like most Ainge moves, it was met heavily with criticism. Skeptics criticized the move, believing that Stevens didn’t have the ability to coach an NBA roster, especially due to his age.

Fast-forward to 2015, where Brad Stevens is now considered to be a part of the NBA’s coaching elite. He took the Celtics from a 25-57 record last year to a 40-42 record and an eight seed in the playoffs this year. Not only did he win nearly twice as many games as the following season, but he also dealt with arguably the largest roster shakeup in NBA history.

Over the past 12 months, the Celtics have had 40 (yes, 40) different players on their roster. An NBA roster can have a maximum of 15 players, with 12 eligible to play. This team had enough to form three.

And oh yeah, he also lost his best two players.

Stevens even has fans clamoring for an opportunity to play for a title, just months after they were hoping for a chance to win the lottery and get Jahlil Okafor. And with 11 first round picks over the next three seasons, the franchise is expected to be fully reloaded by the time we usher in a new president.

In December, Ainge traded “franchise” point guard Rajon Rondo for two picks and a slew of players, of which only Jae Crowder is still on the Celtics roster.

A month later he traded Jeff Green, the Celtics best overall player and leading scorer, to the Memphis Grizzlies for Tayhsaun Prince and, once again, a first-round pick. Prince was traded a few weeks later for two players with expiring contracts.

Despite all of that, Stevens led his Celtics to a 24-12 record since the All-Star break, second best in the league, and was considered to be the favorite to win the NBA’s Coach of the Year award.

However, the 130 sports writers and broadcasters who voted felt that Stevens’ performance wasn’t enough. In fact, only two believed he was the best. Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer, who led his Hawks to an impressive 60-win season, (despite the worst point deferential by a 60-win team in NBA history) had nearly 50 more votes and 11 more first-place votes than second-place Steve Kerr.

Kerr led the Golden State Warriors to one of the five best seasons of all time and coaches the NBA’s best offense and defense. Stevens finished fourth, 463 points behind Budenholzer.

Losing his best two players and record aside, the Celtics roster is arguably one of the worst in the league. There isn’t a single player on their roster that would start on a playoff team. It’s a team filled entirely of role players. There aren’t any go-to scorers or a rim protector.

However, Stevens’ high-paced, high-screen-and-roll offense has allowed this team to become one of the best offenses in the league. It has saved Evan Turner’s career and even made some people call Jonas Jerebko (who came over in the Prince trade) the “Swedish Larry Bird.” Yeah, that happened.

Many media members expect Stevens to soon leave his position in Boston and return back to college ball. Sportswriters believe that if his hometown Indiana Hoosers decided to part ways with Tom Crean, then Stevens will come running. Or if Roy Williams or Mike Krzyzewski decide to call it quits that Stevens will be priority number one.

But for Stevens, why would he? He is coaching one the most storied franchises in not only basketball but in the history of sports. And Ainge isn’t going to simply allow him to leave without putting up a fight.

Boston loves Stevens, and there seems to be a different vibe then there was with Doc, who was just never fully invested in the team. Regardless of the outcome, Stevens’ performance this season has not only proved the media wrong, but has also shown his ability to be among the NBA’s elite. And he should have been this season’s Coach of the Year.

Alabama Wrongly Denies Player Transfer

by Sean Begin
College sports has once again shown why the “student-athlete” concept is a myth, at least when compared to the people who run the athletics programs.
The University of Alabama recently denied women’s basketball player Daisha Simmons a transfer to Seton Hall because it would leave Alabama without a scholarship.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Simmons was a stand-out prep player in New Jersey who spent her first year in college ball on the Rutgers teams. She then transferred to Alabama, where she finished out her undergraduate degree, graduating last December.
Simmons decided to pursue her MBA, but since Alabama didn’t accept her into it’s program, she transferred to Seton Hall, hoping to earn her master’s while playing her final year of eligibility for the Pirates.
There was also a deeper reason for this move. Simmons’ brother is the final stage of chronic kidney disease, known as end-stage renal disease. He requires constant dialysis treatment while he waits for a kidney transplant.
Simmons’ mother works two jobs, so she decided to move back close to home to help her family out while still going to school and playing basketball.
But Alabama’s women’s basketball head coach Kristy Curry and athletic director Bill Battle blocked Simmons’ transfer, meaning she could practice with and keep the scholarship she was given by Seton Hall, but she can’t compete in games with her team.
“This shouldn’t be happening,” Simmons said to the New York Daily News.
And she’s right.
It’s not like Simmons is still a student at Alabama. She’s graduated. And she was denied entry into the MBA program there. If she wants to continue her education somewhere else, she has every right. And if she wants to play basketball somewhere else, Alabama shouldn’t be allowed to stop her.
This, however, is not the first case of a women’s basketball player being denied transfer.
Earlier this year, Kansas State attempted to block the transfer of Leticia Romero. After public outrage, Kansas State relented and gave Romero her transfer. She now plays for Florida State. Before that was Sydney Moss and Florida.
After her freshman year at the University of Florida, Moss wanted to transfer somewhere closer to home. Florida denied her. Not only did they deny her from transferring to a rival school, they denied her from transferring to any Division I institution.
Again, after public outrage, Moss was allowed to transfer to any school except Kentucky. She chose a Division III school in Kentucky showing, as Mike Robinson writes on SB Nation, “that all she cared about was being happy and close to her mother.”
The unfairness of Simmons’ situation is cast in an even harsher light when looking at her coach.
Kristy Curry was able to leave Purdue University for Texas Tech in 2006, despite the fact that Purdue’s women’s basketball was under investigation for violations. Then, after seven years ar Texas Tech with little success, she was able to up and leave for Alabama.
Yet, a player who only wants to continue her education while playing a simple sport, is being denied by the same person (and her superiors) who have no problem jumping ship when necessary.
It speaks to the broken system college athletes exist in that Simmons isn’t being allowed to compete. The worst part is that the NCAA thinks it’s solved the problem by saying Simmons can play next year for Seton Hall.
These archaic and inane rules should be destroyed but until then, the NCAA should step in and just let Simmons play this year.

Facing Death, a Freshman Finds Life

by Sean Begin

At the end of the season, it’ll just be two points among thousands, the first points of a long college basketball season. But for freshman Lauren Hill, the two points she scored to open her team’s season are so much more than that.

For Hill, who entered her first year at Division III Mount St. Joseph, the layup she scored is a dream she’s had for years, and one that almost never happened.

In September, just after the semester had started, Hill was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable and rare form of brain cancer, and given only a few months to live by her doctors.

The diagnosis led to an online social media campaign to give Hill a chance to play in at least one collegiate game. So Mount St. Joseph, their opponent’s, Hiram College and the NCAA agreed to move the opening game up a couple weeks to give Hill her a shot to play.

Support and interest for the game was so overwhelming that it was moved to and sold out Xavier’s 10,000 seat Cintas Center.

And on Sunday afternoon, she knocked down an easy layup with her left hand to open the game, before being met by teammates, coaches, family and friends at mid-court. Hill drained another layup at the end of the game with her natural right hand, an even greater feat given the fact that her entire right side has been weakened by her disease.

“I never thought I would play on a college court, put my feet on the floor and feel the vibration of the crowd. This game has been amazing, and everything that happened today was amazing. This is a really good day,” said Hill after the game.

Hill’s fight has inspired many, including perhaps the greatest basketball player in the world right now, LeBron James, who used his Instagram account to tell Hill “Thank you for inspiring me and I’ll try my best to match you!”

In an industry that so often sees so many problems, from domestic violence to drunk driving to cheating, stories like this are always a reminder that a sport can mean so much more. It’s more than just a group of people sharing a common rooting interest. It’s more than a team getting a win to open it’s season.

I’m sure if you asked any player from Hiram College if they’re sad they lost to Mount St. Joseph’s, not one would say yes; not when Hill played; not when Hill scored in the face of impending death; not when Hill understands that what’s most important isn’t the game itself but the support the game provides — for her and for people suffering from cancer like her.

“To reach and touch this many people is amazing. Not many people knew about DIPG before me, and know that they do, we can get research going to cure this cancer,” she said. “I won’t be around to see that, but it’s going to help so many people. That’s why the support can’t end with this game.”

Intensity: Men’s Hoops Set to Start Season

by Sean Begin

If you asked head basketball coach Howie Dickenman how he felt at the end of last season, disappointment might be the word that comes to mind.

But headed into the 2014-15 season, the Central Connecticut basketball team has the highest expectations: Northeast Conference championship or bust.

“This is the most experienced team I’ve had since we went to the tournament in ’07,” said Dickenman from his office before leading his team onto the court for it’s 15th practice of the season. “It’s a veteran team.”

And while Dickenman says he doesn’t put much stock into polls, he does acknowledge that the experience his players possess was enough to be named second in the NEC coaches preseason poll.

“I would say it’s a show of respect,” he said. “When they look at our team and they see all of the veterans I think it’s almost natural that we’re going to be somewhere near the top.”

Yet before they’ve even had a chance to tipoff, the team is facing the prospect of being without their best player.

Early last week, senior guard and one of CCSU’s offensive threats, Kyle Vinales, was suspended indefinitely from the team following his arrest for an altercation with his girlfriend. She later retracted her statements when speaking to both the New Britain Herald and NBC Connecticut about the incident.

While her statements may see any charges against Vinales drop, he remains away from the team for the time being. And if the CCSU athletics department follows the same path other NCAA schools have taken, they might not make a decision until after Vinales’ Dec. 5 court date.

Dickenman called Vinales “the hardest working player that I’ve ever been around on offense,” and is one of the primary scorers for the team, capable of draining the three as well as driving to the basket and drawing fouls.

Vinales’ absence will be noticeable, but the team has dealt with it before. Last season he missed the first ten games of conference play with a broken finger. Senior guard Malcolm McMillan filled in well for Vinales and should be able to do so again.

McMillan will, for now, lead a starting lineup that includes sophomore guards Matt Mobley and Khalen Cumberlander – who both saw significant playing time in their freshman seasons last year – as well as senior forward Faronte Drakeford and junior forward Brandon Peel.

According to Dickenman, the focus for the starting five and the rest of the team in practice so far this season has been defense, spending about 70 percent of the time in the gym on it, as well as rebounding, something the team struggled with last year.

“We’ve been out-rebounded by an average of three a game. That’s probably three more scoring opportunities for the opponents,” said Dickenman. “We can’t afford to give them extra field goal attempts.”

To that end, Dickenman has new transfer student who may help secure rebounds for the team.

Junior forward Corey Barrett comes in from Coppin State stands at 6-feet-9-inches tall but with a lot left to learn about the game.

“Corey hasn’t played a lot of basketball but he’s learning. There’s a lot of things he’s being taught and he’s been very receptive to the instruction that we’re putting forth to him,” said Dickenman.

That doesn’t mean Barrett won’t see the hardwood, though.

“He will get some playing time because he has a chance to be a pretty good rebounder. And he’s decent offensively,” Dickenman added.

Three freshmen joined the team over the summer as well. Forward Mustafa Jones and guards Kevin Seymour and Shakaris Laney all have a chance to see playing time this season provided they show the intensity that Dickenman has been preaching all offseason.

“If we’re not intense and we’re not going to play defense as hard as we can than we will be mediocre,” said Dickenman. “If we come with a bit of a defensive attitude than I think we have have a chance to be a very good team.”

Of the three freshmen, Seymour may now be most likely to see the court. As the primary backup to McMillan at the point guard position, a potential injury to McMillan could see Seymour entering the game.

Laney offers the team a potentially lethal three-pointer, although Dickenman wants to see Laney work harder in practice, something he thinks will happen with time. Jones is a left-hander who needs to put some weight on, which, according to Dickenman, “we’re trying like the dickens to [do].”

In addition to the new players, Dickenman brought in an entirely new coaching staff who’s brains he picked before the offseason began to build new drills and offensive plays for the team.

“Very pleased with the energy and the enthusiasm and the effort that they brought here,” said Dickenman. “We have some new defensive drills I might add. We’ve introduced some new [offensive] ones [too] this year that I think will be successful.”

Greg Collucci comes to Central from American, where he led the team to a Patriot League championship last year in his only season with the team. Tobe Carberry led the University of New Haven to two straight 20-win campaigns the past two seasons before arriving in New Britain.

Dickenman also brought back Obie Nwadike, who was a member of the 2007 team that was the last to win an NEC championship and go to the NCAA tournament. Nwadike had previously spent last season on the coaching staff of NEC opponent Wagner.

“He is as much energized as any assistant I’ve had and I’ve had a number of them,” said Dickenman of Nwadike’s return to New Britain.

Dickenman believes his team has a chance to succeed in a conference that has a lot of parity, thanks in part to the improvement from the players in the starting lineup. Both Mobley and Cumberlander have been spending more time working on driving to the basket and drawing fouls. Drakeford and Peel have seen an improvement to their jump shooting, so much so that Dickenman might let them loose from three this season.

But in order for their to be any success, it comes down to playing with intensity and a good defense.

“If we can do that then I anticipate a very good year. But that’s the key,” said Dickenman. “We play with intensity in practice. Now the question is can we bring those habits into a game.”

The team opens up their season Nov. 14 at the Connecticut 6 Classic at Quinnipiac University, when they take on Fairfield.