DURHAM, N.H. – University of New Hampshire Athletic Director Marty Scarano announced Thursday that men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion has been signed to a new five-year contract.
“We have great confidence in Bill Herrion and what he is accomplishing at UNH,” Scarano said. “Bill, his staff and the student-athletes are building a strong foundation for future success. We knew that this building process was a long-term proposition, and I see daily tangible evidence that our program is advancing. We are fortunate to have Bill leading this program. He knows what it takes and is dogged in his pursuit to make our program competitive.”
Herrion is turning the program around with solid recruiting that has produced more athleticism and depth than there has been on a UNH men’s basketball roster in recent memory.
“I just want to thank UNH, particularly President Huddleston and Marty Scarano, for their support of our men’s basketball program,” Herrion said. “We have worked extremely hard to build this program, and with this commitment we will continue to pursue our goal of winning the America East championship.”
Herrion has helped the program attain feats this season that have not occurred at UNH in more than 10 years. The Wildcats, who have already equaled their win total from all of last season, began the season 5-2 at home, marking the best home start for UNH since it began the 1997-98 season 6-1 in Durham. After beating Hartford in its conference opener Jan. 7, paired with its 75-66 win at home against Albany in last season’s conference opener, the Wildcats recorded victories in league openers in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons. They also started conference play at 2-1 for the first time since the 1994-95 season when the ‘Cats recorded two wins against Hofstra before losing to Delaware. Following its 65-47 win versus UMBC on Jan. 14, UNH, which last season knocked off defending champion Albany, 75-66, has now recorded a victory over the reigning conference champions in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns when it notched wins over Delaware.
Herrion also guided the Wildcats to a 5-7 record in their non-conference slate, which included wins against the West Coast Conference’s Santa Clara, as well as the Ivy League’s Brown and Dartmouth. It is the program’s best non-conference finish since the 2003-04 season when it produced an identical 5-7 record.
The Oxford, Mass., native has instilled a defensive tenacity in the Wildcats, as they are 8-2 this season when holding their opponents to 60 points or less. Once his team grabs a lead they do not give it up either, owning a perfect 6-0 mark when leading at halftime. The Wildcats have also shut down the opposing team’s leading scorers this season. In 18 games when the opposition has had its leading scorer play in the game, the Wildcats have held him under his season average 12 times, including nine of the last 11. Two of those players were Santa Clara’s John Bryant and Binghamton’s D.J. Rivera. Bryant, who has received numerous looks from NBA scouts this season, came into the game averaging 18.7 points and 12.6 rebounds per contest, while owning 10 double-doubles, including a pair of 20-20 games. The Wildcats’ post defense, which hounded Bryant with double teams all day, held the senior to just seven points – his lowest total of the year – and eight rebounds. Rivera, who came into the Jan. 22 matchup against UNH ranked first in the conference and 23rd in the country in scoring at 20.6 points per game, only managed to score six points versus the Wildcats. It was the first time in 19 games that Rivera had been held to single digits, with 11 being his previous season low in points.
Herrion made an immediate impact when he first took the reigns at UNH for the 2005-06 season. Despite being picked last in the preseason poll the team finished fifth and won 12 games, which were the most the program had posted since the 1994-95 season. Herrion also led that team to the semifinals of the America East tournament for the first time since the same 1994-95 season.
Herrion ranks among the best mentors ever to coach in the America East. His 276 career victories and .689 winning percentage in America East games are the most among active America East coaches, while his 144 America East wins are second only to Boston University’s Dennis Woff (157) among active America East coaches. Herrion’s 19 America East tournament victories are most all-time, while his .704 America East tournament winning percentage is first among active America East coaches, first among anyone with at least 10 tournament appearances and fifth overall all-time. His three America East titles are also first among active America East coaches and second all-time only to current UConn head coach Jim Calhoun. Herrion, who is the only coach in America East history to earn four Coach of the Year awards (1994, 1995, 1996, 1999), has made three NCAA tournament appearances, including a first-round win over Memphis in 1996.
Herrion, who arrived at New Hampshire after a stint as the associate head coach at Arkansas, is best known for his outstanding accomplishments at Drexel, where he posted an impressive 167-71 record from 1991-1999. During that period, Herrion led the Dragons to three NCAA tournament appearances in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and also guided the school to its first-ever NIT appearance in 1991. The team finished first or second in conference play in seven of his eight seasons. Herrion also posted five consecutive 20-win seasons, including his best, a 27-4 campaign in 1996.
While at Drexel, Herrion coached current NBA player Malik Rose. Rose averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds during his four seasons under Herrion, while winning back-to-back America East Player of the Year awards (1995, 1996), three straight America East Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards (1994-1996) and four consecutive America East All-Conference First Team honors (1993-1996). Rose went on to win two NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs (1999, 2003).
Following his success at Drexel, Herrion was hired as the head coach at East Carolina, where he led the Pirates from 1999-2005 and posted a record of 70-98. The Pirates were sometimes overmatched after the school stepped up to high-powered Conference USA, but Herrion’s teams were unshakeable and beat a top-10 team with a win over No. 9 Marquette. ECU also enjoyed its first-ever victory over national powerhouse Louisville during his tenure.
Herrion also had America East ties as an assistant coach at Boston University from 1985-1990. During his stay in Boston, the Terriers posted a 101-51 record, made NCAA appearances in 1988 and 1990 and was invited to the NIT in 1986. Herrion served as an assistant coach at George Washington University from 1990-91.
Other coaching experience on his resume includes serving as an assistant coach of the Under-19 U.S. National Team that competed in Athens, Greece in 1995. He was also the assistant coach for the Under-22 U.S. National Team that went on to win gold in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1996.
Herrion and the Wildcats return to action Saturday, Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. when they play host to Boston University at Lundholm Gymnasium.