On Thursday, UB announced the hiring of its newest men’s basketball head coach: George Halcovage III.
Halcovage previously coached at Villanova for 15 years, moving through the ranks under head coach Jay Wright. He takes over a UB team that went 15-17 (9-9 MAC) last season and parted ways with head coach Jim Whitesell after a first-round exit in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Here’s what you need to know about UB’s newest hire:
Championship pedigree and experience:
Halcovage joined the Villanova staff in 2008 as a graduate assistant. He held multiple positions over 15 years, including graduate assistant, video coordinator, director of basketball operations and assistant coach before becoming associate head coach in 2021.
During his tenure, Villanova appeared in four Final Fours (2009, 2016, 2018, 2022) and won two National Championships (2016, 2018). The Wildcats also won seven Big East regular season championships and five Big East Tournament championships during his tenure.
When Halcovage gets promoted, his teams win:
In each of his four Final Four appearances, Halcovage held a different role with Villanova. His first Final Four appearance came in 2008-09, his first season as a graduate assistant. When Villanova won the 2016 title, he was the team’s director of basketball operations. In 2017-18, he won another title as an assistant coach. And his latest promotion, to associate head coach in 2021, preceded a 30-8 season and a run to the Final Four.
By becoming the UB head coach, Halcovage will add another promotion to the resumé. Time will tell if his winning ways carry over.
Halcovage had a great mentor in Jay Wright:
Jay Wright is considered to be one of the best college basketball coaches of the 21st century. His tenure at Villanova lasted from 2001-22. In that time, he won two national championships, made four Final Fours and was named the Naismith Coach of the Year twice (2006, 2016). He was just the third coach (John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski) to win the award multiple times.
Wright’s coaching tree is extensive. His descendents have taken head coaching jobs at Boston University (Joe Jones), Penn State (Pat Chambers), Rutgers (Fred Hill) and Navy (Billy Lange).
“George is one of the best coaches we’ve ever had at Villanova,” Wright said in a UB press release. “He has recruited, developed and mentored our players with passion. George is a great leader and basketball mind. We’ll miss him and Lizzy. The University at Buffalo is getting a creative, committed head basketball coach.”
Wright’s teams were known for defense, teamwork and depth. As the program thrived, recruiting benefitted. The 2022 class of Wildcats was ranked 21st overall by 247sports.com, and featured two four-star and one five-star recruit.
UB Athletic Director Mark Alnutt mentioned recruiting prowess as a strength of Halcovage.
“He’s a tenacious recruiter and has the exceptional ability to connect with people,” Alnutt said in the press release. “He has a very clear vision of sustained excellence for UB basketball which will position our program to regularly compete for MAC Championships.”
Halcovage played college basketball:
Before he joined the Wildcats coaching staff, Halcovage played four seasons of Division-III basketball at Babson College. He missed both 2004-05 and 2005-06 with injuries, but in 2006-07 and 2007-08 he started 10 of 30 games combined and made seven field goals while averaging 6.6 minutes.
Halcovage’s introductory press conference will take place at noon on Monday at Alumni Arena.
Ryan Tantalo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Tantalo is the managing editor of The Spectrum. He previously served as senior sports editor. Outside of the newsroom, Ryan spends his time announcing college hockey games, golfing, skiing and reading.