MEN'S BASKETBALL GAME NOTES VS. MAINE
DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will look to snap a four-game losing streak versus the University of Maine at Lundholm Gymnasium when the two teams meet for the 169th time Saturday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. The ‘Cats have never played an opponent more times than they have wrestled with the Black Bears, who lead the all-time series  107-61. UNH won the most recent meeting Jan. 19 at Maine when junior guards Eric Gilchrese and Tyrece Gibbs combined for 39 points in an 81-75 victory at Alfond Arena.
   
The win snapped the Wildcats’ four-game losing skid and improved their record to 5-12, including 2-3 in America East. The Black Bears fell to 5-12 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
   
Gilchrese, who matched a career high by recording 13 of his 20 points at the free throw line, also tallied four rebounds and four assists, while Gibbs, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, added five rebounds and five assists.
   
With Maine on top, 32-30 with 4:05 remaining in the first half, Gibbs drained one of his five 3-pointers to give UNH the lead for good. The ‘Cats went into the break with a 39-34 advantage.
   
UNH kept its solid play going in the second half, opening the frame up with a 14-6 run to move its lead to 55-40 with just under 14 minutes left.
   
Maine made a furious push midway through the second half, reeling off a 12-2 run to cut its deficit to five (64-59) with 6:22 left.
   
The Wildcats pushed their lead to 13 with under three minutes to play. Another Black Bear run cut the UNH lead back to six, but that was as close as they would come.
   
Freshman guard Alvin Abreu had 15 points and seven rebounds to extend his double-digit scoring streak to seven consecutive games, which is the longest streak for a Wildcat this season. Abreu has recorded double digits in 10 of his last 11 games and 15 out of 17 overall.
   
Senior forward Mike Christensen tallied 10 points and six rebounds, moving him to within 87 points of the 1,000-point plateau for his career.
   
Freshman center Dane DiLiegro also played a solid game inside, tallying seven points and four rebounds.
   
Mark Socoby, Maine’s America East Player of the Game, led four Black Bear scorers in double digits with a game-high 25 points.
   
UNH started out hot, knocking down five straight treys to grab a 15-9 lead just over five minutes into the game. The ‘Cats hit eight 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 13, which was just four shy of the single-game school record.
   
The ‘Cats shot 49 percent (23-47) for the game, including 48  percent (13-27) from long distance. Maine shot 50 percent (27-54) from the floor.

LAST TIME OUT

Freshman guard Tyrone Conley and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, but it was not enough as the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team fell to the University at Albany, 80-59, Feb. 6 at SEFCU Arena.
   
The Wildcats fell to 7-15, including 4-6 in America East, while the Great Danes improved to 11-11 overall and 6-4 in the conference.
   
Conley knocked down a career-high four 3-pointers, while Gibbs tallied eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
   
Albany led from the start, opening the game on an 8-2 run before pushing its lead to 24-8 midway through the first half. The Great Danes took their biggest lead of the half, 34-16, with 4:52 remaining. Conley scored eight straight points for the Wildcats to close the frame with Albany leading, 41-28. Gibbs, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, led the ‘Cats in the first half with 13 points.
   
Conley hit a 3 to begin the second half that gave him 11 points in a row for the ‘Cats and closed the gap to 10. Albany would pull away, however, using a 13-3 run to take a 59-39 lead with 9:44 remaining. The two teams traded baskets down the stretch, with Brent Wilson hitting a trey to close the scoring with 55 seconds left.
   
Freshman guard Alvin Abreu, who scored 10 points in the second half, tallied 13 points and four assists in the contest.
   
Brian Lillis, Albany’s America East Player of the Game, recorded 14 of his 19 points in the second half. Lillis led three Great Danes in double figures while posting nine rebounds.
   
The Wildcats turned the ball over just seven times compared to Albany’s 13, but also shot just 34 percent from the field (19-56) while the Great Danes shot 50 percent (27-54).

POINTS, REBOUNDS, ASSISTS, OH MY!

Senior Mike Christensen currently has recorded 988 points, 479 rebounds and 191 assists in his career. With 12 more points, 21 more rebounds and nine 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.

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 11 of his last 16 games, and 16 of 22 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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