Team preview: Central Conn. State

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 21, 2004, 12:20 PM ET
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Riding a five-game losing streak and coming off a 17-point loss to Monmouth the night before, Howie Dickenman needed to do something to wake his team up.

So the CCSU head coach arranged for a 6 o'clock practice at the Hawks' gym -- and he didn't mean 6 p.m. either.

On a chilly winter morning on the first day of February, the Blue Devils broke a good sweat before leaving for Mount St. Mary's campus.

"It was an orange juice special," Dickenman said. "It was a little wake-up call."

It turned out to be quite a wake up.

CCSU beat the Mount in triple overtime and went 8-2 the rest of the regular season to earn a spot in the NEC Tournament. Once the seventh-seeded Blue Devils were in, they kept on rolling, knocking off No. 2 St. Francis (NY) and No. 3 Fairleigh Dickinson before losing in the final to Monmouth.

CCSU accomplished this with only one senior -- Ron Robinson (18 ppg, 9.7 rpg). The 6-7 forward made sure the Blue Devils extended their conference tournament streak to six straight seasons and earned the NEC's Player-of-the-Year honor for his efforts.

Now CCSU has four starters back from that team and a host of talented newcomers, but the one thing missing is a leader.