Entering his 15th season as the head coach at his alma mater, Howie Dickenman is the second-longest tenured head coach in Central Connecticut men's basketball history. He trails only his former head coach, William Detrick, who guided the Blue Devils for 29 seasons.
The Blue Devils continuted to build on their conference-best streak of reaching the Northeast Conference Tournament in 2009-10. Central advanced to the NEC Tournament for the 12th straight season a year ago, falling to eventual champion Robert Morris on the road. The 12 straight tournaments is the longest active streak in the conference. The Blue Devils did not qualify for the tournament in their first season in the league but have qualified in every season since, including three conference titles.
Last season the Blue Devils finished 12-18 overall and 9-9 in league play. The 9-9 record marked the 10th time in 13 seasons that the Blue Devils have posted a league record of .500 or better. Dickenman and the Blue Devils are 144-94 in the 13 seasons in the NEC.
With the 12 wins a year ago, CCSU has averaged 17.1 wins per season in the last 12 years under Dickenman. That is good for the fifth-best total in New England (out of 20 Division I schools) during that time frame. Only Connecticut (24.8), Boston College (19.6), Vermont (19.3) and Holy Cross (17.3) have averaged more wins per season than the Blue Devils.
In 2008-09, Dickenman became only the second coach in school history to win his 200th career game. On January 17, 2009 at St. Francis (PA), the Blue Devils defeated the Red Flash 71-61 to give Dickenman his 200th win. He was at the helm later in the season when the Blue Devils reached another milestone. With a 65-61 win at Bryant on February 14, the Blue Devils recorded the 1,000th win in program history. Two years ago sophomore forward Ken Horton earned All-NEC Second Team honors following a season which saw him finish third in the conference in scoring averaging 16.5 points per game. In 2007-08, guard Tristan Blackwood earned his second straight NEC Defensive Player of the Year award and was named to the All-NEC First Team. Also, a Blue Devil was named the NEC Rookie of the Year for the first time in program history. Guard Shemik Thompson earned the honor and was joined on the NEC All-Rookie Team by Horton.
Four seasons ago Central Connecticut posted one of the most memorable years in program history, recording a 16-2 regular season Northeast Conference record while winning its third NEC title since 2000. The team advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in its Division I history.
The Blue Devils hosted three NEC Tournament games in front of capacity crowds and finished the year with a 22-12 overall record. The 16 league wins are the second most for the Blue Devils in their 13 seasons in the NEC.
Following the 2006-07 year, Dickenman was named NEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time, and the Blue Devils made history with their postseason awards. Seniors Javier Mojica and Obie Nwadike as well as Blackwood, a junior at the time, became the first three teammates in NEC history to all make the postseason First Team. Mojica became the fourth player under Dickenman to be named the NEC Player of the Year, and Blackwood became the second to earn NEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. A year later he won the award for the second time.
Dickenman earned his third NEC Coach of the Year honor following the 2005-06 season. The Blue Devils finished second in the regular season NEC standings and hosted a pair of NEC Tournament games at Detrick Gymnasium in front of capacity crowds.
Dickenman's 217 victories as head coach of the Blue Devils put him second on the all-time list (also behind Detrick). He is the only coach to lead the Blue Devils to the NCAA Division I Tournament. He posts a 14-year record of 217-196, including a 144-94 mark in league regular season action.
Dickenman's teams have made a name for themselves in the NEC for their ability to play at home in front of large crowds, but are also the top road team in the league in the last 12 seasons. CCSU is 63-48 (.568) in NEC games on the road in the last 12 years, including eight winning seasons and nine seasons at .500 or better. They are tops in the league during that time in winning percentage, total wins and number of winning seasons.
During Dickenman's tenure the Blue Devils have advanced to the Northeast Conference Tournament finals five times, winning the title three times (2000, 2002, 2007) and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. In 2006-07 Dickenman became the second coach in school history to coach 300 career games. In his first two seasons at the helm of the Blue Devils, Dickenman had a 12-41 record. Since then, CCSU has compiled a record of 205-155.
Dickenman's squads have produced four NEC Players of the Year in his 13 seasons in the league. Rick Mickens (2000), Corsley Edwards (2002), Ron Robinson (2004) and Javier Mojica (2007) have all been honored with the conference's top award. All four players are members of the school's 1,000 point club and Edwards (second) and Mickens (fifth) are in the top-five in career scoring. Robinson became only the fifth player in school history to record 1,000 career points and rebounds.
The 2006-07 season did not start out successful for the Blue Devils, they held a 3-9 record following their first 12 games. Once the conference season rolled around CCSU began to put things together and received national media attention for their efforts. Dressing only nine players the Blue Devils won 16 of 18 conference games, 17 of its final 19 games during the season and its final 10 home games including three games in the NEC Tournament. The story of walk-on-turned-captain Javier Mojica made national headlines as his MVP performance in the NEC Tournament was seen on national television. Detrick Gymnasium was sold out for three straight NEC Tournament games and the Blue Devils did not disappoint, defeating St. Francis (NY), Mount St. Mary's and Sacred Heart to earn their third NEC title in eight seasons. A meeting with eventual national runner-up Ohio State ended the magical season but the run of the 2006-07 Blue Devils will not be soon forgotten.
Dickenman and the Blue Devils put together the most successful season in school history in 2001-02 and culminated the year with the school's second trip to the NCAA Tournament. Riding the nation’s longest winning streak at 19 games, the team fell to Pittsburgh in the first round of the tournament. The Blue Devils set a school record with 27 victories, the second time in three years the team had posted 25 or more wins. CCSU also posted a 19-1 league record in earning the regular season title. The 19 league wins, all coming after starting the conference season 0-1, were the most ever by an NEC team in conference play. Of the five losses during the season for the Blue Devils, two came against teams that finished the year in the top-10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll (#4 Oklahoma and #9 Pittsburgh). Also in 2002, Dickenman earned the NEC Coach of the Year honor, the second time in his career he received the award. That year he was also named the Eastern Basketball Coach of the Year.
Dickenman was named the NEC Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the 1999-2000 season. He was selected as the New England Division I Coach of the Year and District One Coach of the Year. He was one of five finalists for the Claire Bee Award, for contributions to college basketball, along with Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Lute Olsen of Arizona and Mike Montgomery of Stanford. His 1999-2000 team won the school's first-ever Northeast Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in program history.
Dickenman was named the program's head coach on April 17, 1996. He led the Blue Devils to victories in their first three games of his first season, the first time in CCSU’s Division I era that had happened. Dickenman came back to coach at his alma mater where he earned All-America honors on the CCSU basketball team under Detrick and as a teammate of recently retired Athletics Director, C.J. Jones. The two-time team captain helped lead CCSU to a 50-26 record during his three years (1966-69) on the varsity basketball team. Dickenman was the first basketball player in school history to reach 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. The 6-4 center averaged 17.7 points and 14.7 rebounds his senior season as the Blue Devils finished 20-8, won the Northeast League title, and earned a berth in the NCAA District One Tournament. He graduated in 1970 and earned a Master’s Degree in elementary education from CCSU in 1975.
Prior to returning to CCSU, Dickenman joined the University of Connecticut staff in 1982. During his tenure, Husky basketball became one of the nation’s elite programs. He spent 10 years as the top assistant to coach Jim Calhoun, during which the Huskies recorded a 20-8 post-season record. He was responsible for the recruitment of several future NBA players during his tenure, including Donyell Marshall, Donnie Marshall, Kevin Ollie, Travis Knight, Jake Voskuhl, Scott Burrell, Chris Smith and Cliff Robinson. While with the Huskies, UConn advanced to postseason play for nine-consecutive seasons, including five trips to the Sweet 16 in seven years. The 1987-88 UConn squad brought home the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) title.
Dickenman was honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches following the 2008-09 season. On April 5, 2009, he was awarded the 2009 NABC Literacy Champion Award. The award is given for his years of dedication and service to the Read Across America program. Dickenman was the chairman of the program at CCSU for several years. He received the award at the annual convention for the NABC.
Dickenman is one of the founding fathers of Interval House, Connecticut’s largest agency working toward ending domestic violence, a newly announced initiative, being Chaired by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal asked a handful of prominent men in the area to work with him and Interval House on the Men Make a Difference, Men Against Domestic Violence initiative and Dickenman was one of those chosen. Thirty prominent men from the Hartford area are working to help bring an awareness of the issue. They lend their name, prominence, time and talents to help speak out against domestic violence. They also host fund raisers and awareness events, distribute brochures and make individual and personal commitments on behalf of Interval House. He speaks regularly across the state to help bring awareness to domestic violence and its effects on those involved. Dickenman is also a member of the Regional Advisory Committee for the NABC, representing the Northeast Conference. The members of the Regional Advisory committees advise the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Committee on the strength of teams in their region. The NCAA committee uses this information from the regional coaches in their tournament selection deliberations each season.
Dickenman is a member of seven separate Hall of Fames, including the CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame in which he was inducted into in 1980. He was inducted as a member of the first-ever class to enter the New England Basketball Hall of Fame on October 4, 2002. Dickenman, who was inducted as one of the top Division II players in New England history, was joined by names like Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Calvin Murphy, Patrick Ewing and Julius Erving. He was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame on March 8, 2003. In November of 2000 Dickenman was named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame. Along with his late father, Howard B. Dickenman, Sr., who was inducted in 1968, they are the only father-son combination in the Hall. In June of 2002, he was inducted into the Cheshire Academy Hall of Fame. Dickenman is also a member of the East Hartford Explorers Tap-Off Club Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Gold Key by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance in April of 1996 and also was inducted into the Norwich Sports Hall of Fame. He was named the Sportsperson of the Year in Norwich in 1999.
Dickenman’s success at UConn and CCSU has made him one of the most recognizable people in the state sports world. He speaks at numerous camps, clinics and banquets and also volunteers additional time with charities. He has served as honorary chairman of the Tolland Fund Golf Tournament to benefit people with special needs and for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Blood Drive. From 2003 through 2005, Dickenman served as the honorary co-chairman of the Connecticut Alzheimer’s Association fundraising golf tournament. He was a member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Team that helped raise funds for the American Cancer Society. He received the St. Francis Medal for his strong dedication to Christian values and outstanding athletic achievement along with the Native Son Award at the Norwich (CT) Rose Arts Festival. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Nutmeg Games and three years ago was the Grand Marshall of the games. He also participates annually in Manchester’s “Christmas in April” program, which helps build affordable housing for local residents. Dickenman and the Blue Devils take great pride in giving back to the community and have made a strong effort to do just that. In the past few seasons, CCSU has participated in the Winter Coat Drive in New Britain, attended various Christmas parties for local charities and attended at least 10 local schools to participate in reading days and meet with local students. The Blue Devils also host a coaching clinic and a youth day during the season. The men's basketball team serves as mentors at High Meadows School in Hamden, CT, and also perform several clinics at local Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the Central Connecticut region during the year.
A native of Norwich, CT, Dickenman was a standout athlete at Norwich Free Academy, where he played for his father - one of the state’s all-time great scholastic mentors. He began his coaching career as an assistant for three seasons at New Britain High School. He then served as head coach at Greater Hartford Community College for three years before returning to CCSU as an assistant for two years.