Team preview: Hartford

Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2006-07 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 18, 2006, 11:08 AM ET
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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

COACH AND PROGRAM

After spending a decade working as an assistant for John Chaney, you would expect Dan Leibovitz to know what he wants from his basketball team.

And he does.

"We want to be a fundamentally sound basketball team," said Leibovitz, hired at Hartford in April. "We're going to run a motion offense with a passing game and guys are going to get open shots."

The Hawks also plan to get after opponents defensively, using many of the schemes Chaney used during his 24-year run at Temple.

"Certainly, there are things you learn from a Hall-of-Fame coach," Leibovitz said. "I was with coach Chaney for 10 years, so there are going to be some similarities, particularly defensively. I would be a fool not to use the things I learned from coach Chaney."

Leibovitz also received some on-the-job training at Temple, serving as head coach for six games while Chaney served a suspension and took time off for personal reasons. But, this is not the same.

"It's very exciting," Leibovitz said. "It's certainly different having a team from day one and trying to run your own program than stepping in for someone in mid-February and trying to do things the way your boss wants them done."

Leibovitz is also aware of how his new boss wants things done. He was hired to succeed Larry Harrison, who resigned after last season -- a campaign during which his peers voted him America East Coach of the Year.

When Harrison's resignation was announced, Hartford athletic director Pat Meiser-McKnett said, "We intend to establish a foundation for success with men's basketball in the same manner we have with our women's program."

That won't be easy. Jennifer Rizzotti, the former UConn star, has built the Hawks into a power in her seven seasons. Hartford has won back-to-back America East titles and, this spring, earned its first NCAA Tournament victory by defeating (of all teams) Temple.

Leibovitz takes over a young team with just two seniors. The Hawks will also be without four of their top five scorers from last season, including departed seniors Kenny Adeleke (20.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg) and Aaron Cook (16.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and America East all-rookie selection Paris Carter (7.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), who transferred. Adeleke was a first-team all-conference pick who led the America East in scoring and rebounding and finished second in the country in rebounding.

Still, Leibovitz is encouraged by what he has in the players who return and the five newcomers to the program.

"Just in studying some of the tape from last year I think we have some guys who will fit in to our style," Leibovitz said. "They have the ability to shoot the ball, transport the ball and can make open shots. I think there are a few guys who won't have a problem stepping into larger roles."


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