MEN'S BASKETBALL GAME NOTES VS. HARTFORD
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DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will square off with the University of Hartford on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. at Chase Gymnasium. The Wildcats and Hawks hook up for the 45th meeting between the two clubs, with Hartford leading the all-time series, 27-17. Despite winning five of the last seven meetings, the Wildcats have lost five straight at Chase Gymnasium, with their last win coming there in an 80-78 victory on Jan. 12, 2002. In the most recent meeting Jan. 27, captains Tyrece Gibbs and Mike Christensen combined for 40 points to lead the Wildcats past the Hawks, 74-59, on Alumni Day at Lundholm Gymnasium.
   
The Wildcats, who had won two of their last three games, improved to 6-13, including 3-4 in America East, while the Hawks dropped to 10-12 overall and 4-3 in the conference.
      
Trailing by nine just over one minute into the second half, the Wildcats ripped off a 19-0 run, holding Hartford scoreless for 6:45 to take a 49-39 lead with 12:14 remaining in the game. Christensen led the charge with four 3-pointers during the span, including three straight at one point. The ‘Cats never trailed again and instead used an 11-0 run to build a game-high 20-point lead (69-49) with just under three minutes left.
      
Freshman center Dane DiLiegro pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, while freshman guard Tyrone Conley and junior guard Eric Gilchrese added nine and eight points, respectively. Freshmen Alvin Abreu and Rony Tchatchoua each chipped in with seven points.
      
Hartford started the game with five straight points, but UNH battled back, building an eight-point lead (23-15) on treys by Conley and Gibbs. A 9-0 run by the Hawks made it 24-23 Hartford with 6:38 left in the first half. The Wildcats managed to go into the half trailing by just four (34-30), despite Christensen and Gilchrese each picking up three fouls in the first half.
      
Christensen did what senior leaders should do, however, scoring 18 second-half points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc. The forward also added three rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
      
Gibbs, who equaled his career high in points, tallied five rebounds and two assists en route to being named UNH’s America East Player of the Game.
      
Morgan Sabia, Hartford’s America East Player of the Game, notched 15 points and seven rebounds for the Hawks.  
      
The Wildcats shot 42 percent (20-48) from the field, including 61 percent (14-23) from long range. The 14 3-pointers match UNH’s season high and are just three shy of the school record. 
   
After shooting 42 percent (10-24) from the field and 53 percent (8-15) from behind the arc in the first half, Hartford managed to shoot just 28 percent (7-25) from the floor in the second half, including 21 percent (3-14) from 3-point land.

LAST TIME OUT

Freshman guard Alvin Abreu netted a game-high 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-10 from behind the arc, and senior forward Mike Christensen reached the 1,000-point plateau for his career, but the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaker to Binghamton University, 56-54, on Feb. 14 at the Events Center.
   
With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 7-17, including 4-8 in America East, while the Bearcats improved to 11-14 overall and 7-6 in the conference.
   
Abreu, whose five treys set a career high, also recorded five rebounds and a career-high six assists.
   
UNH trailed 50-44 with five minutes left in the game before a 7-0 run gave the Wildcats their second lead of the half. A pair of free throws by freshman center Dane DiLiegr and a 3 by Abreu, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, set the stage for Christensen’s layup that gave the ‘Cats a 51-50 lead with 1:13 to go. Lazar Trifunovic answered with a jumper to put Binghamton on top with 46 seconds remaining. DiLiegro, who was fouled with 26 ticks left, missed both free throws, but was saved when junior guard Tyrece Gibbs came away with the offensive rebound and kicked to an open Abreu, who knocked down a 3-pointer to give UNH a 54-52 lead with 23 seconds left. Mike Gordon hit a jumper just seven seconds later, however,  to tie the game.
   
After Gibbs missed one in close, DiLiegro fouled Reggie Fuller, who pulled down the rebound, with nine seconds on the clock. Fuller made both from the stripe to give the Bearcats a 56-54 lead. Gibbs was fouled with just two seconds left, but came up empty on his first attempt at the line. After Gibbs missed the second, freshman guard Tyrone Conley came down with the offensive board and put up a 15-footer that did not fall as time expired.
   
Christensen, who entered the game with 999 career points, surpassed the 1,000-point threshold on a layup with 12:30 left in the first half. The captain becomes the 25th player in program history to attain the feat. Christensen, who finished the game with 10 points and four rebounds, passed Pat Manor (1,000) and now has 1,009 points, which is good for 24th on UNH’s all-time scoring list.
   
DiLiegro posted eight points and nine rebounds, while Gibbs tallied eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Conley chipped in with seven points, two steals and a block.
   
The game was tight for most of the opening frame until an 8-0 Bearcat run put them up, 20-13, with 4:45 left. UNH whittled down the deficit and went into the break trailing 25-22.
   
Gordon, Binghamton’s America East Player of the Game, led three Bearcats in double figures with 18 points. He also tallied six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
   
UNH, which shot 35 percent (20-58) from the floor, committed just 12 turnovers as compared to 14 for Binghamton, which hit on 45 percent (23-51) of its shot from the field.

ABREU BACK ON TRACK


Freshman guard Alvin Abreu looks to have righted the ship. After having his seven-game double-digit scoring streak —  the longest streak on the team this season — snapped Jan. 24 versus Binghamton, Abreu has reeled off three consecutive games of 10 or more points. Abreu, who leads all America East Rookies in scoring, has scored in double digits in 13 of his last 18 games, and 18 of 24 overall.

NATIONALLY RANKED

The Wildcats are ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a pair of categories. Their 8.9 3-pointers per game is good for 19th in the nation, while their 3-point field goal percentage of 36.8 ranks  them 96th. The ‘Cats free throw percentage of 71.1 is just outside the top 100, at 103rd best in the country.
   
Junior guard Tyrece Gibbs ranks 56th with a 3-point field goal percentage of 40.6 and 66th with 2.7 treys per game.

POINTS, REBOUNDS, ASSISTS, OH MY!


Senior Mike Christensen currently has recorded 1,009 points, 486 rebounds and 195 assists in his career. With 14 more rebounds and five more assists, Christensen will become just the second player in the history of UNH men’s basketball to tally at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in a career. Dan Nolan posted 1,258 points, 826 rebounds and 219 assists from 1980 to 1984.

WE LIKE MIKE

How much does the play of senior captain Mike Christensen affect the play of the Wildcats? Six of the Wildcats’ seven wins have come when Christensen has scored at least 10 points.

BLOCK PARTY

After owning a career high of two blocks after two-and-a-half seasons, junior guard Tyrece Gibbs set a new career high with three blocks versus Boston University on Feb. 2, and then recorded another three blocks the very next game at Albany on Feb. 6.

FROM BEGINNING TO END

What connection could senior Mike Christensen and the head coach of the UNH men’s soccer team, Rob Thompson, possibly have? Before moving on to play his final two years of high school basketball at Flint Hill, Christensen played his first two years at South Lakes High School in Reston, Va. Thompson received his first coaching gig at South Lakes, coaching the JV soccer team. In the end, both wound up at UNH where they have had great careers. Another South Lakes alumn? The Phoenix Suns’ Grant Hill.

FAN FRENZY

The 1,852 fans that took in the game between the Wildcats and Boston University Terriers on Feb. 2 at Lundholm Gymnasium were the most to fill Lundholm since 1,873 people witnessed the ‘Cats play host to the University of Maine on Feb. 3, 2007.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

Senior captain Mike Christensen has stepped up his game as of late, leading the Wildcats on the court when they need it most. After a scoreless first half against Hartford on Jan. 27, Christensen scored 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the arc in the second half to lead the ‘Cats to a 74-59 victory. Christensen again helped his squad pick up a W Jan. 30 at Stony Brook, netting 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while adding five rebounds, two assists and a block en route to a 68-60 win.

THE DANE TRAIN: NOW BOARDING

Freshman center Dane DiLiegro is turning into a consistent presence on the boards night in and night out - especially at home. DiLiegro pulled down 11 rebounds in the three consecutive home games from Jan. 15-27. The recent rebounding spurt raised DiLiegro’s average from 5.1 per game, to 6.0

DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR CAPTAIN CHRISTENSEN

Senior forward Mike Christensen posted the Wildcats’ second double-double of the season Jan. 12 against Vermont when he poured in 17 points and ripped down a career-high 14 rebounds.   
   
Freshman center Dane DiLiegro recorded the first double-double this season when he posted career-highs in points and rebounds, with 12 apiece, Dec. 3 versus Northeastern.

ABREU GARNERS SECOND WEEKLY CONFERENCE HONOR

The America East conference announced Jan. 7 that freshman guard Alvin Abreu was named America East Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Week for the week ending Jan. 6. This is the second time Abreu has garnered the honor this season.
       
Abreu averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists over the course of two games during the week. Abreu helped the ‘Cats win their first conference opener since beating Vermont, 75-68, on Dec. 3, 1997, by scoring 14 points and pulling down six rebounds in 40 minutes of a 75-66 win over Albany on Jan. 3. Abreu then submitted his second 20-point performance of the season, and tallied eight rebounds and four assists in his second consecutive 40-minute effort, as UNH fell to UMBC – the top team in the conference – 86-73 Jan. 6.
      
Abreu also won the award Dec. 10, when he averaged 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in games against Northeastern University and Brown University.

THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

When the Wildcats defeated two-time defending America East champion Albany, 75-66, on Jan. 3, they not only won their conference opener for the first time since Dec. 3, 1997 when they defeated Vermont, 75-68, but they grabbed their first win of the year when trailing at halftime, and when being outscored in the paint. Coming into the game, the ‘Cats were 0-6 in both categories.

'CATS INK PLAYER DURING EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

The Wildcats announced Wednesday, Nov. 14  that Brian Benson has signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period, and will attend UNH and play for the program beginning in the 2008-09 academic year.
   
Benson, a 6-foot-8-inch forward from Greece-Athena High School in Rochester, N.Y., was a 2007 All-Greater Rochester all-star selection after averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Section V Class AA champions.
   
Benson should help the ‘Cats in the frontcourt, with senior forward Mike Christensen graduating in the spring.
    
“We are happy with Brian’s decision to join our basketball program,” UNH men’s basketball Head Coach Bill Herrion said. “He comes from a very successful high school program and has been very well-coached. Brian really fits one of our recruiting needs. He is athletic, can run the floor and is a good rebounder. He also gives us depth with our frontcourt.”

2007-08 OUTLOOK

University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion enters his third season as the leader of the program and with seven newcomers added to the program, this could be his most difficult challenge to date.  UNH compiled a 10-20 record last season, which translated into a seventh-place finish in the America East Conference. The Wildcats fell for a second straight season to the eventual America East champions - the University at Albany.
   
Despite losing two talented America East All-Conference performers in Blagoj Janev and Jermaine Anderson, the Wildcats bring back three starters from the 2006-07 campaign. Senior Mike Christensen (Reston, Va.), along with junior Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) and sophomore Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) look to lead a very young group of ‘Cats to the promise land as the captains for the 2007-08 season. Christensen returns from a season-ending foot injury, which he suffered Jan. 9 during a pivotal conference match up with Vermont. The senior forward posted 13.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in 15 appearances, including a 28-point performance the game before he endured the injury. Gibbs, who started 28 of 29 games last season, averaged 9.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He stepped his game up in a major way offensively when Christensen went down with his foot injury. Gibbs scored in double-digits in eight of the last 13 games. Onguetou showed the greatest improvement over the course of the season. He made 18 starts in 30 appearances and became the team’s leading offensive rebounder. Onguetou posted a double-double against Dartmouth College and scored a career-high 15 points against Hartford.
   
The Wildcats also bring back senior Shawn Tobey (Eliot, Maine). Tobey’s work ethic landed him in coach Herrion’s starting lineup towards the end of the season, including a start in the America East Quarterfinal round. Sophomore Joe Cheslock (Dover, N.H.) also returns to the program, and will vie for playing time at the shooting guard and small forward positions.
   
In addition to the returning veterans, Herrion introduces seven newcomers to the program. Junior college-transfer Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) comes to New Hampshire after two years at Lewis & Clark Community College. The Trailblazers finished fourth in the 2007 NJCAA Men’s Division II National Tournament and had Gilchrese named to the All-Tournament Team. Gilchrese averaged 14.0 points, 4.0 rrebounds and 5.0 assists per game during the 2006-07 season. Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) and Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) add depth at the guard position. Conley is a 6-foot-2-inch wing player from Burlington High School. Conley is BHS’ all-time leading scorer with 1,566 points an was named to the All-State Team during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Conley averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game during his high school career. Abreu joins the Wildcats out of Boys to Men in Chicago. Abreu averaged 20 points and eight rebounds per game while at Lynn Classical High School, and was a North Eastern Conference All-Star. He averaged 14.0 points per game in 2006-07 at Boys to Men, which was ranked one of the top five schools in the nation that season.
   
In addition to the three guards, UNH adds forwards Rony Tchatchoua  (Douala, Cameroon), Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) and James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas). Tchatchoua is a 6-6 power forward from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, who was league MVP when his high school, Little Rock Christian Academy, captured the state championship in 2005. He was named to the All-State Team, as well as being selected a McDonald’s All-American in 2006. DiLiegro, a 6-8 power forward/center from Worcester Academy, was three-time Middlesex League Champion while at Lexington High School. DiLiegro was a Middlesex League All-Star his senior year after he averaged 11.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game. Valladares is a 6-8 forward out of Kaufman High School, where he averaged 19.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game last season. Valladares was District MVP his senior year, District Defensive Player of the Year his junior year and District Newcomer of the Year his sophomore year when he was also named First Team All-Region.        The Wildcats also welcome junior transfer Colbey Santos (East Wareham, Mass.) from James Madison University. Santos will sit out the 2007-08 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.
   
The Wildcats also made a coaching staff change as they welcomed newly appointed associate head coach Ken Dempsey to the program. Dempsey spent the last six seasons as the men’s basketball Associate Head Coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dempsey also served as the University of North Carolina-Greensboro assistant coach from 1999-2001. Dempsey is familiar with the Northeast region, having served as the assistant coach at Northeastern University from 1994-1999. Prior to joining the staff at Northeastern, Dempsey was an assistant coach at Monmouth (N.J.) University from 1984-94. The players he recruited earned 21 all-conference selections and helped the team to three conference championship game appearances.
   
Dempsey is a proven, self-directed and high-profile coaching/recruiting professional with over 24 years of full-time leadership experience at the previous listed Division I institutions. Dempsey has a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country by numerous national recruiting and coaching publications and boasts a 100-percent graduation rate among student-athletes recruited. Each of Dempsey’s past four recruiting classes at UMKC were ranked as one of the nation’s top 100 by Hoop Scoop Online.
   
As recruiting coordinator for head coach Wayne Szoke at Monmouth for eight seasons, Dempsey’s recruiting efforts produced the school’s all-time Division I scoring co-leaders, seven of the school’s top-10 Division I scoring leaders and a GTE Academic all-American. Dempsey also serves actively on the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Board of Directors.
       
Dempsey earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1983 from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., where he was a four-year letter-winner in basketball and baseball. He also completed a master’s degree in education from Monmouth in 1991.

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