DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team opens its season Saturday, Nov. 10, when it travels to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to take on the Boston College Eagles at 4 p.m. The game can be seen live on NESN. Boston College leads the all-time series with UNH, 21-6, including last year’s 86-47 win over the ‘Cats at Conte Forum on Nov. 10. The Eagles, who were ranked 15th in the country at the time, were led by senior forward Jared Dudley and freshman forward Shamari Spears, who combined for 42 points.
Sophomore guard Tyrece Gibbs notched a team-high 11 points with three steals for the Wildcats, and delivered two key 3-pointers early in the contest to put the ‘Cats up 11-8. The Eagles, however, stormed back into the game with a 14-0 run as they finished the half shooting 13-of-27 (48.1%). Freshman guard Dan McGeary tallied six first half points en route to scoring a career-high eight points for the game as the Wildcats shot 9-of-29 from the field (31%) in the first half, entering halftime down 42-24.
Senior co-captain Blagoj Janev posted eight points along with five rebounds, while junior forward Mike Christensen registered eight points and four rebounds. Freshman forward Seth Price notched four points and five rebounds in his collegiate debut.
LAST TIME OUT
Junior Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) led a balanced attack to help the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team get by Merrimack College, 87-75, in an exhibition tune up Nov. 1 at Lundholm Gymnasium.
Gibbs, the America East Player of the Game, led all scorers with 22 points, and chipped in with six rebounds and six assists. Darin Mency led all Merrimack scorers with 20 points.
Merrimack opened the game with a 12-4 run before the Wildcats scored seven straight to cut their deficit to one. The Warriors opened up another eight-point lead, with the Wildcats again making a run to cut their deficit to two.
From there, the ‘Cats – who shot 55 percent from the field, including 12-for-24 from behind the arc – settled down, taking the lead and building an eight-point advantage. They would take the 45-37 lead with them into the locker room at the half.
Eighteen of Gibbs’ 22 points came in the first half. Junior Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) also put up double digits – one of six Wildcats to do so – scoring 10 in the first half and finishing with 14. Gilchrese also led the team with seven rebounds and four steals.
Merrimack opened up the second half with an 11-point run that gave it a three-point lead. The ‘Cats came right back with an 11-0 run of their own minutes later, which gave them a 59-48 edge. Senior Mike Christensen (Reston, Va.) dropped 11 of his 14 points in the second half, while also chipping in with six assists.
Sophomore Radar Onguetou (Cameroon) netted all 10 of his points in the second half. Freshmen Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) and Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) were the other two scorers in double digits, finishing with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
After the Warriors cut the UNH lead to one midway through the second half, the ‘Cats slowly pulled away, building a seven-point lead. That lead eventually grew to a game-high 13 before Merrimack sliced it down to 12 in the final minutes.
The ‘Cats open their regular season Nov. 10 when they travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to take on the Boston College Eagles at 4 p.m. The game can be seen live on NESN. The team’s home opener is Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. when it plays host to Suffolk University at Lundholm Gymnasium.
University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion enters his third season as the leader off the program and with six newcomers added to the program this could be his most difficult challenge to date. UNH compiled a 10-20 record and a seventh place finish in the America East Conference before falling for a second straight season to eventual America East champions 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. Leading the way for UNH is a trio of captains. Senior Mike Christensen along with junior Tyrece Gibbs and sophomore Radar Onguetou look to lead a very young group of ‘Cats to the promise land. Christensen returns from a season-ending foot injury in which he suffered on January 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 the foot injury. He scored in double-digits 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. 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 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 six newcomers to the program. Tyrone Conley is a 6’2” wing player from Burlington, Vt. Conley scored over 1,000 points and was named to the All-State Team during his sophomore, junior and season seasons. He averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game. Salah Abdo is also a 6’2” guard with experience playing the point position. The Southborough, Mass. native averaged 13 points seven assists and five rebounds per game during his senior year at St. Mark’s School. As a three-year starter, Abdo has helped guide St. Mark’s to an impressive 76-7 record. Alvin Abreu adds depth at the guard position out of Boys to Men in Chicago.
In addition to the two guards, UNH adds forwards Rony Tchatchoua and Dane Diliegro. Tchatchoua is a 6’6” power forward from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, while Diliegro is a 6-8-power forward/center from Worcester Academy. The Wildcats also welcome junior transfer Colbey Santos from James Madison University. He is ineligible until the 2008-09 season.
The Wildcats also made a coaching staff change as they welcome newly appointed assistant coach Ken Dempsey to the program. Dempsey spent the last five seasons as the Associate Men’s Basketball 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 when he 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.