A new chapter in the history of UB men’s basketball began in Alumni Arena Monday afternoon as George Halcovage III was introduced as the 15th head coach in program history.
Accompanied by his wife Lizzy, Halcovage arrived to the press conference with the UB marching band and fans to welcome him with music and applause.
Speaking for almost 20 minutes before the press conference officially ended, Halcovage explained what made him choose UB, how he knew it was time to become a head coach and how he plans to bring the program back to prominence.
Here are four takeaways from Halcovage’s press conference:
Said Buffalo “is a special place”
“I knew this is a special place,” Halcovage said when discussing his decision to coach at UB. “This is a place where Lizzy and I can make it home.”
Buffalo already holds a special place in Halcovage’s heart because of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. While with Villanova, the Wildcats played their first and second round games at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo. Even though Villanova was upset in the second round by Wisconsin, Halcovage said he met his wife Lizzy a few weeks later at the Final Four.
“When I got the call that said, ‘Hey would you be interested in UB?’ I looked at my wife and she was like, ‘Yes, yes,’” Halcovage said.
Six years later, Halcovage and his wife are now making Buffalo home for themselves and their first child, expected in the next few months.
Halcovage has been in contact with transfer portal players
UB currently has six players in the transfer portal, including key starters from the 2022-23 season such as sophomore guard Curtis Jones, junior guard Zid Powell and senior forward LaQuill Hardnett.
“There’s been interaction and I’m excited to continue that,” Halcovage said in response to a question from The Spectrum about the extent of his contact with the UB players currently in the portal. “I just want them to really fully understand our vision as a program moving forward and then also understand a little about their individual one as well.”
Halcovage also said he wants to keep those conversations “in-house,” as he understands that it’s a unique decision for the player’s to make.
Recruiting potential coaching staff candidates at Final Four
With the Final Four taking place this past weekend and wrapping up with the NCAA Championship Game Monday night, Halcovage was in Houston over the weekend to recruit some potential assistant coaches.
He addressed his first priorities as head coach, with building his staff at the top of the list.
“Meeting with different people — that I had already been thinking about if this did happen — to build a great dynamic staff that’s going to be able to be on that mission with me,” Halcovage said.
Halcovage did not mention whether any of the coaches from last season’s staff will be retained or not.
Former UB assistant Jamie Quarles recently accepted a position on Bryan Hodgson’s staff at Arkansas State; Halcovage is currently the only coach listed on UB’s roster.
Eager to take the next step as a coach
After spending 15 years with Villanova in various different coaching roles, Halcovage knew it was time to take the reins of his own team.
Halcovage said that legendary Villanova head coach Jay Wright encouraged him to take a head coaching position last season — with one stipulation.
“He told me that ‘You’re ready to be a head coach… but don’t just go take a job to take a job,’” Halcovage said.
Halcovage said that coaches have their own aspirations to develop players and that he knew he’d be ready once the right opportunity presented itself.
Brandon Cochi is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org