(West Hartford, Conn.) — Hartford forward Mark Nwakamma sat quietly in his chair, a glazed-over look in his eyes as he stared downwards towards his shoe tops.
10 minutes earlier, the final buzzer had cut through the hollow air hanging over a glum Chase Arena. Hours earlier, the Hartford Hawks, playing on their home court, had raced out to a 20-10 lead over America East power Stony Brook. Hartford was running and gunning, hitting on all cylinders with a partisan behind it and a chance to make a statement entering league play.
Instead, the Hawks came unglued and the visiting Seawolves landed one haymaker after the next, KO-ing the hosts 63-30 the rest of the way, to register a 73-50 win.
One of the smartest and most eloquent players in the league – always meeting tough questions head on, with deep and thoughtful responses – Nwakamma was uncharacteristically quiet, sticking to short answers and avoiding eye-contact, before being excused by his head coach two questions into the press conference.
“You just saw Mark; they’re in shock,” said Hartford head coach John Gallagher after the game. “That’s a team that thought they should win that game up 10 and we did not handle the lead well.”
The always quotable Gallagher – a constant tornado of confidence, excitement and outspoken energy during his tenure in Hartford – was unusually soft spoken following the loss, but remained steadfast in his faith in his team.
“I think great things can still happen, I really do, what you have to do is just keep working at it.”
From the outside looking in, it’s hard to share the head coach’s enthusiasm. (more…)