MEN'S BASKETBALL GAME NOTES VS. ALBANY
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DURHAM, N.H.
-- The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will travel to New York to take on the University at Albany on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. The Wildcats and Great Danes square off for just the 17th time ever, with Albany leading the all-time series, 10-6. In their most recent meeting,  however, junior guard Tyrece Gibbs led four scorers in double digits as the Wildcats stunned the two-time defending America East champion Great Danes, 75-66, Jan. 3, 2008 at Lundholm Gymnasium in its conference opener.
   
The win, which snapped the Wildcats’ seven-game losing skid and improved their record to 4-8, including 1-0 in the conference, was the ‘Cats first in a conference opener since they downed Vermont, 75-68, on Dec. 3, 1997. The Great Danes fell to 5-8 overall and 0-1 in America East.
   
Gibbs, the America East Player of the Game for UNH, poured in a game-high 19 points, while junior guard Eric Gilchrese netted 18, senior forward Mike Christensen had 16 and freshman guard Alvin Abreu added 14.
   
With the Wildcats trailing 54-53 with 5:41 remaining in the contest, Abreu knocked down a 3-pointer that sparked a 17-5 run and put the ‘Cats up for good.
   
Gilchrese sealed the game when he missed the first of a 1-and-1, but raced in to swipe his own rebound, put the ball in off the glass and get fouled in the process to put UNH up 65-58 with 58 seconds left. Gilchrese converted the three-point play when he made good on the first of six free throws he would hit in the final 58 seconds en route to a career-high 13 free throws on the night.
   
The game was tight until a 10-4 Albany run put the Great Danes on top, 32-22, with 6:15 left in the first half. UNH came right back with a 12-2 run of its own to tie the game at 34 with just under three minutes left in the half. Albany led 38-37 at the break.
   
Christensen played with a new intensity in the first half, keeping UNH in the game with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
   
Albany led 53-47 with seven minutes left and looked to be pulling away when Abreu and Gibbs drilled back-to-back treys to tie the game with 5:55 left.
   
Gibbs led the comeback, scoring 14 second-half points on 5-of-9 shooting, while adding a pair of rebounds, assists and blocks.
   
Brian Lillis, Albany’s America East Player of the Game Brian Connelly and Josh Martin scored 14, 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Great Danes in the loss.
   
Freshman center Dane DiLiegro pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
   
The Wildcats, who shot 43 percent (23-54) from the field, including 47 percent (9-19) from behind the arc, shot 87 percent (20-23) from the charity stripe. UNH outshot Albany in all three categories, and had two fewer turnovers (11) than the Great Danes.

LAST TIME OUT

Captains Mike Christensen and Tyrece Gibbs scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, as the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team fell to Boston University, 67-52, Feb. 2 at Lundholm Gymnasium.
   
The loss halted the Wildcats’ two-game winning streak and dropped their record to 7-14, including 4-5 in America East. The Terriers improved to 7-14 overall and 4-5 in the conference.
   
After trailing 27-19 with 19:22 remaining the second half, the Wildcats made a run, capped by a Rony Tchatchoua put-back off his own miss with 16:30 left, that tied the game at 32. A pair of Christensen 3-pointers highlighted the 13-5 run, which forced the first and only tie of the contest.
   
That was as close as UNH would get to a lead, however, as Carlos Strong and Corey Lowe drilled back-to-back 3s that opened up another wide margin for the Terriers.
   
The Wildcats used another comeback to get within seven with just under eight minutes left, but BU crafted a 16-4 run to seal the win and take a game-high 19-point lead (67-48) with 1:01 left.
   
Christensen added six rebounds, while Gibbs, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, recorded two rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks.
   
Lowe, the Terriers’ America East Player of the Game, poured in a game-high 23 points, while Scott Brittain posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
   
After BU scored the first seven points of the game, Gibbs capped a 5-0 Wildcat run with a 3 that got his team back in the game. The ‘Cats hung around, trailing by just two (17-15) with 3:44 remaining in the first half, before the Terriers closed the half with a 6-0 run that gave them a 25-17 halftime lead.
   
BU outshot UNH, 43 percent (24-56) to 37 percent (16-43).

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.

NATIONALLY RANKED


The Wildcats are ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a pair of categories. Their 8.8 3-pointers per game is good for 25th in the nation, while their free throw percentage of 71.6 is 84th best in the country.

Junior guard Tyrece Gibbs ranks 59th with a 3-point field goal percentage of 40.6 and 74th with 2.7 treys per game.

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 has raised DiLiegro’s average from 5.1 per game, to 6.0

DOUBLE-DIGIT DOWNER


Freshman guard Alvin Abreu snapped his seven-game double-digit scoring streak Jan. 24 versus Binghamton, when he tallied five points.The streak is the longest streak on the team this season. Abreu, who leads all America East Rookies in scoring, has scored in double digits in 10 of his last 15 games, and 15 of 21 overall.

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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