DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will face the University at Albany for the first time this season on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. at SEFCU Arena. The contest will be broadcast live on FOX 980 AM, with the link available at www.UNHWildcats.com. The Wildcats and Great Danes meet for the 18th time in their relatively young conference rivalry, with Albany leading the all-time series, 11-6. The series has shifted control over the years, with Albany having won five of the last six meetings. Prior to that run, UNH had won 4 of 6 after the Great Danes had been victorious in four of the first five. The Wildcats have won two of the last three at home against Albany, but the Great Danes have protected their home court as well, winning three of the last four at SEFCU Arena. In the most recent meeting Feb. 6, 2008, Albany downed UNH, 80-59 at SEFCU.
Freshman guard Tyrone Conley and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, to lead the Wildcats.
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).
LAST TIME OUT
Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu scored 20 points and sophomore center Dane DiLiegro recorded his third double-double of the season, but the Wildcats dropped an 81-76 heartbreaker to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Feb. 10 at RAC Arena.
The loss dropped the Wildcats to 9-14 on the season, including 4-7 in America East play, while the Retrievers improved to 11-13 overall and 5-7 in the conference.
Abreu, UNH’s America East Player of the Game, was 7-for-15 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Abreu added three rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. DiLiegro poured in a career-high 16 points on 7 of 13 shooting and ripped down 10 boards in 36 minutes. Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs also tallied 16 points, four rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 40 minutes for the Wildcats.
Leading 51-45 just over five minutes into the second half, the Wildcats were forced to withstand a 20-2 UMBC run that gave the Retrievers a 65-53 lead midway through the half. After a layup by Gibbs stopped the bleeding, a Jay Greene 3-pointer with 9:19 remaining gave UMBC its largest lead of the game at 68-55.
Gibbs answered with a 3-pointer of his own and after Greene sank a jumper, Gibbs knocked down another 3 to slice the deficit to 70-61 at 8:21. After Greene responded with a layup 30 seconds later, the Wildcats ripped off a 13-3 run – featuring a pair of treys from Abreu, who netted 17 in the second half, and one from Gibbs – that cut the UMBC lead to 75-74 with 3:33 to play.
The Retrievers would not let UNH get any closer, however, receiving a layup from Darryl Proctor, off a miss by Greene, to widen their lead to 77-74 with 3:01 left. Junior forward Radar Onguetou hauled in a rebound off a missed 3 by Abreu and put it back to keep the Wildcats within a point with 1:40 on the clock. Greene then hit two at the line to put UMBC back up by three at 79-76 with 1:20 left, and after UNH missed a 3 to tie and was forced to foul, Matt Spadafora sank a pair at the stripe with 14 ticks left to seal the win. Onguetou finished with six points and seven rebounds.
The game opened as a seesaw battle, with UMBC leading 11-8. DiLiegro scored the first eight points of the game for UNH, which tied the game on an Abreu 3-pointer at 12:45. The teams were later tied at 18 when Gibbs drilled a 3 that sparked an 8-2 run, which put the Wildcats on top 26-20 with 7:26 left in the half.
An old fashioned three-point play by Greene cut UMBC’s deficit to three before the teams traded baskets twice to bring the score to 30-27 with 3:38 left. A DiLiegro dunk off a feed from Abreu put the Wildcats back up five, but four free throws from Brett Burrier closed the first-half scoring with the Retrievers down just one, 32-31. The Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season when leading at the half (6-1).
Senior guard Eric Gilchrese scored 10 points in 16 minutes of action, while sophomore guard Tyrone Conley tallied six points, four rebounds and four assists.
Gibbs finished the game with 1,205 career points and moved past Keith Dickson (1,202) for ninth place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. The captain’s two blocks gave him 53 for his career and moved him past Joe Rainis (51) for fourth all-time in program history.
UNH shot 44 percent (30-68) from the floor, including 39 percent (11-28) from deep. UMBC was 52 percent (29-56) from the field and 55 percent (6-11) from 3. The Wildcats turned the ball over less (5) than the Retrievers (7), who were fourth in the nation in turnovers per game (10.3) coming in. The Wildcats went the entire first half without a turnover and did not commit their first until the 11:54 mark of the second half.
Greene, UMBC’s America East Player, poured in a career-high 36 points on 12 of 18 shooting, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Greene was also 7-for-7 from the stripe to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Proctor also posted a double-double for the Retrievers, recording 23 points and 10 boards.
FOUR HISTORY'S SAKE
A win against Albany on Feb. 15 would give the Wildcats 10 victories this season, surpassing their win total of last season. A double-digit win season would also give the ‘Cats three 10-win seasons in four years under Bill Herrion, marking just the fourth time in school history that has happened. The last time UNH attained that feat was from 1982-83 to 1985-86 when the program put together three double-digit win seasons in four years under legendary UNH head coach Gerry Friel.
Alvin Abreu scored 20 points at UMBC on Feb. 15, with 17 of them coming in the second half. Abreu has netted 17 points in the second half three times this season, Nov. 29 at Marist, Dec. 13 at Long Island and at UMBC. The sophomore guard picks up his scoring in the second half as he has averaged 4.7 points in the opening frame and 7.7 points in the second half. Abreu has scored in double digits in the first half just twice this season, while he has netted at least 10 points in the second stanza eight times, including a 19-point performance against Santa Clara on Jan. 4.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR DOUBLE D
Dane DiLiegro notched his fourth career double-double and third of the season at UMBC on Feb. 10 when he set a career high with 16 points and ripped down 10 boards. DiLiegro recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds against Hofstra on Dec. 27 for his first double-double of the season and posted 12 points and 12 boards at Maine on Jan. 19 for his second.
STAY FOR AWHILE
UNH Athletic Director Marty Scarano announced Feb. 5 that 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 added, “I just want to thank UNH, particularly President Huddleston and Marty Scarano, for their support of our men’s basketball program. 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.”
RANDOM "UNH RECORD WHEN..." TIDBITS
The Wildcats are 8-2 when holding their opponents to 60 points or less and are 5-1 when forcing their opponents to shoot under 40 percent from the floor. The tenacious defense pays off as the Wildcats are 6-1 when leading at halftime. The ‘Cats are tough to beat when their barrage of 3-point shooters are on, owning a 5-1 record when shooting over 40 percent from deep. The squad also must like playing in the middle of the week as they are 5-1 on Wednesdays.
UNH is ranked within the top 100 teams in the country in a pair of categories. The Wildcats are 42nd in 3-point field goals per game (7.8) and 90th in turnovers per game (13.1 tpg). Individually, Tyrece Gibbs is 41st in the nation in field goal percentage (39.0) and 70th in 3-pointers per game (2.6).
TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS
Heading into tonight’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 516 consecutive games, a streak that spans 17 years. The last time the ‘Cats did not tally a trey was in a 59-47 loss to Dartmouth College on Jan. 8, 1991, when they were 0-for-3 from behind the arc. The NCAA record is currently 692 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.
HOLDING DOWN THE FORT
UNH has had a knack for holding down the opposing team’s leading scorer this season. In 20 games when the opposition has had its leading scorer play in the game, the Wildcats have held him under his season average 13 times, including 10 of the last 13.
Tyrece Gibbs scored 16 points at UMBC on Feb. 10 to bring his career total to 1,205 points and move past Keith Dickson (1,202) for ninth place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. Next up for Gibbs: Billy Pappas, who sits in eighth with 1,228 points.
Tyrece Gibbs played in his 100th game as a Wildcat on Jan. 11 versus Boston University. The senior needs to play in four more games to become the all-time leader in program history.
Tyrece Gibbs has done it all during his time in a UNH jersey, filling the stat line night in and night out. The effort paid off as Gibbs is just the second Wildcat in history to amass at least 1,000 points, 400 rebounds, 200 assists, 80 steals and 45 blocks. With 1,205 points, 470 rebounds, 231 assists, 86 steals and 53 blocks, Gibbs joins Eric Montanari (92-95), who totaled 1,038 points, 418 rebounds, 217 assists, 93 steals and 47 blocks, on the exclusive list.
Tyrece Gibbs is penciling his name in all over UNH’s record books. Last season, Gibbs drained 83 3-pointers, which is the second most in a single UNH season and just four off the record. Gibbs also registered the third most 3-point attempts (204) in a season and played the third most minutes (1,038) in a season. This year, Gibbs is 10th on UNH’s single-season 3-pointers made list with 60. The guard is currently second all-time on UNH’s 3-pointers made list (206), second in 3-point attempts (525), fourth in blocks (53), fifth in games played (110), sixth in minutes played (3,440), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (.392) and seventh in field goals attempted (1,020). Gibbs, who became the 26th Wildcat to score 1,000 points in a career Dec. 13 at Long Island, is also close to moving into the top 10 in field goals made and assists.
DANE TRAIN: NOW BOARDING...AND SCORING
Dane DiLiegro, who is currently second in the conference in offensive rebounds per game (3.0) and fifth in rebounding overall (7.2 rpg), is averaging 5.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, better than his numbers of 4.6 points and 6.1 boards per contest at this point last season. After posting one double-digit scoring game and six double-digit rebounding games in 29 contests last year, the center has notched five double-digit scoring games and five double-digit rebounding games in just 23 tilts this season.
MOVIN' ON UP
Tyrece Gibbs moved up a trio of all-time program lists against Boston University on Feb. 7. Gibbs scored a game-high 20 points to bring his career total to 1,189 points and move past Matt Acres (1,169), Jim Rich (1,180) and Greg Steele (1,187) for 10th place on UNH’s all-time scoring list. In the final minutes of the opening half, the co-captain sank his 198th career 3-pointer, which moved him past Tommy MacDonald (197) and into second place on UNH’s all-time 3-point field goals made list. Gibbs also recorded the 51st block of his career, moving him into a fourth-place tie with Joe Rainis on the program’s all-time list.
ON THE RADAR
Radar Onguetou is picking up his play as of late. The co-captain played his best game of the season at Hartford on Feb. 4, scoring a career-high 16 points to go along with nine boards and three assists. Onguetou’s previous career high came in the same building nearly two years to the day when he netted 15 at Hartford on Feb. 8, 2007. Onguetou also narrowly missed his second career double-double Jan. 31 against Vermont. Onguetou scored nine points and pulled down a season-high 10 boards against the Catamounts, en route to being named America East Player of the Game. It is the first Player of the Game award for Onguetou since he garnered the honor nearly two years ago in an America East quarterfinal game against Albany on March 3, 2007.
After being away from the team Dec. 6-Jan. 17, Eric Gilchrese played in his first game Jan. 28 at Stony Brook and looked like he had not missed a beat. Gilchrese led the ‘Cats to a 71-60 come-from-behind win with 22 points on 6 of 10 shooting, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc.
CAN YOU SPARE A BASKET?
When the Wildcats overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat Stony Brook, 71-60, Jan. 28, it was again there defense that came up big. The ‘Cats held the Seawolves to just four field goals and 18 percent shooting (4-22) in the second half, including just one basket and 11 percent shooting (1-9) in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Trailing 34-25 against Stony Brook at the half Jan. 28, the Wildcats exploded out of the locker room, tying the game with a 13-4 run that was part of a larger 27-8 run, which led the ‘Cats to a 71-60 win. The Wildcats scored more points in the first 8:29 of the second half (26) than they did in the entire first half (25).
DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR CAPTAIN GIBBS
Tyrece Gibbs recorded his second career double-double when he netted 10 points and matched his career high with 10 rebounds at Vermont on Jan. 25. Gibbs’ previous double-double came in an overtime contest against Harvard on Nov. 29, 2006 at Lundholm Gymnasium when he tallied the same 10 and 10.
D.J. REJECTED BY WILDCAT D
Binghamton’s D.J. Rivera, who came into the Jan. 22 matchup against UNH ranked 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.
In his Jan. 18 “Bracketology” column on ESPN.com where he predicts the NCAA tournament bracket and updates it weeky, Joe Lunardi picked the Wildcats to win the America East and play the MEAC’s Florida A&M in the opening-round game. If the Wildcats were to win that game, Lunardi has them advancing to play No. 1 Pitt, where head coach Bill Herrion’s brother, Tom, is the associate head coach.
NON-CONFERENCE SLATE SUCCESS
After beating Dartmouth, 68-59, Jan. 17 to close out their non-conference slate at 5-7, the Wildcats finish with their best non-conference record since the 2003-04 season when they had an identical 5-7 record.
After their 65-47 win against UMBC at Lundholm Gymnasium on Jan. 14, the Wildcats improved to 5-2 at home this season, marking the best home start for UNH since it began the 1997-98 season 6-1 in Durham.
With their 65-47 victory against UMBC on Jan. 14, the Wildcats are now 2-1 in America East play for the first time since the 1994-95 season when they recorded two wins against Hofstra before losing to Delaware. The last time the ‘Cats started a conference slate 3-1 was during the 1991-92 campaign.
WILDCATS KEEP ON DEFENDING
When UNH defeated UMBC, 65-47, Jan. 14, it was once again the defense that came up big down the stretch for the Wildcats. After a Darryl Proctor layup with 9:11 left in the second half, the ‘Cats held UMBC scoreless during a 6-0 run that spanned the next 5:54. UNH, which has the second best scoring defense in the conference and 93rd best in the country at 62.6 papg, is 5-1 when holding its opponents to 60 points or less and 1-7 when allowing 61 or more.
KNOCKING OUT THE CHAMP
After beating UMBC, 65-47, Jan. 14, the Wildcats, who last season knocked off defending champion Albany, 75-66, have 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 they notched wins over Delaware.
BENSON HELPS PUT BOUNCE IN WILDCATS' STEP
Brian Benson provided a surge of energy off the bench during UNH’s 11-2 to start the second half in its 65-47 win versus UMBC on Jan. 14. Benson threw down a monstrous two-handed slam off a feed from sophomore forward Rony Tchatchoua at 18:22, and just moments later came up with a huge rejection of Darryl Proctor that kept the team feeding off the noisy Lundholm crowd’s liveliness.
ESPN'S KATZ WEIGHS IN ON 'CATS
In his blog on ESPN.com, Andy Katz had this to say about the Wildcats and their fourth-year leader: “Bill Herrion may have finally hit a consistent stride in his rebuilding job at New Hampshire. Like Harvard, UNH took out Santa Clara at home by four and then opened up America East play by beating Hartford at home. A trip to Boston University is next for the Wildcats. A win there for UNH might be a significant turning point for Herrion.“
DILIEGRO LEADS WINDEXING WILDCATS
Dane DiLiegro tore down a career-high 17 rebounds, including 10 in the first half, in UNH’s 55-47 win against Hartford on Jan. 7. DiLiegro, who tallied more offensive rebounds (8) than Hartford’s entire team (5), led the Wildcats to a 44-29 rebound advantage. The 17 boards are also a season-high in America East this season, beating out Stony Brook’s Tommy Brenton, who had 15 against Maryland Eastern Shore on Nov. 14. The rebound total is the most anyone in the conference has recorded since Vermont’s Marqus Blakely had 29 at UNC-Wilmington on Feb. 23, 2008, and most in a conference game since Blakely had 20 against Hartford on Feb. 20, 2008.
WILDCAT DEFENSE CONTINUING TO IMPROVE
UNH’s defense continues to get better each game and that did not change against Hartford on Jan. 7. Trailing 17-15 with 5:45 to play in the first half, the Wildcats were sparked by a Tyrece Gibbs 3-pointer from the left wing that put them back out in front, 18-17, and sent them on an 8-2 run that would give the ‘Cats a 23-19 lead at the half. UNH carried over its momentum from the first half as it opened the second frame with an 8-0 run that made the score 31-19 at 15:14. Hartford did not record its first point of the second half until a Michael Turner free throw at 13:42 and had its first bucket of the second stanza come on a Jaret von Rosenberg layup at 11:57. Going back into the first half, the Wildcats held the Hawks scoreless for 9:11, and without a field goal for 10:53.
HOME, SWEET HOME AGAINST HARTFORD
After its 55-47 win against Hartford at Lundholm Gym on Jan. 7, the Wildcats have now won five straight at home against the Hawks, dating back to the 2004-05 season.
OPENING UP RIGHT
UNH’s 55-47 win versus Hartford in its conference opener Jan. 7, paired with its 75-66 win at home against Albany in last season’s conference opener, gives the Wildcats victories in league openers in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.
ABREU NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alvin Abreu had a career day on the offensive end of the floor Jan. 4 against Santa Clara. Abreu propelled the Wildcats to a 58-54 victory on their home court with a career-high 28 points on 8 of 14 shooting. The sophomore guard also knocked down a career-best seven 3-pointers and was perfect from deep on the day, setting a school record for most treys in a game without a miss. Abreu also netted his 500th career point and finished the day with 513. For his efforts, Abreu was named America East Co-Player of the Week the following day. The award is the first for Abreu, who was a three-time America East Rookie of the Week last season, as well as an All-Rookie Team member.
WEST COAST PARTY
UNH’s win against Santa Clara – arguably its biggest non-conference victory in nearly 15 years – was the program’s first ever against a West Coast Conference team. The Wildcats had previously lost to St. Mary’s (Dec. 22, 1988) and Gonzaga (Dec. 27, 1993).
CATS' D BUCKS BRONCOS' BRYANT
In their 58-54 win against Santa Clara on Jan. 4, the Wildcats shut down Bronco big man John Bryant. 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, led by center Dane DiLiegro, held the senior to just seven points – his lowest total of the year – and eight rebounds.
Tyrece Gibbs became the 26th Wildcat in program history to score 1,000 points in a career when he knocked down a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in the game against Long Island on Dec. 13. This marks the third straight season the Wildcats have seen one of their players reach the 1,000-point plateau. Blagoj Janev, who is currently fourth on UNH’s all-time scoring list with 1,340 points, recorded his 1,000th during the 2006-07 season, while Mike Christensen, 17th with 1,087 points, tallied his 1,000th last season.
UNH held the lead against Penn State for the greatest length of time of any of the Nittany Lions’ first four opponents of the season. The Wildcats led for 12:25 in their game with PSU, which won all four games. UNH’s America East-foe Hartford held the advantage for just 1:18, NJIT led for 26 seconds and William & Mary never led in their contest.
BENSON'S FAMOUS TEAMMATE
Brian Benson was on the court as a sophomore at Greece-Athena High School when team manager Jason “J-Mac” McElwain, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age, knocked down six 3-pointers in their division title game versus Spencerport on Feb. 16, 2006. The story quickly made national headlines, while McElwain turned into a celebrity overnight. McElwain met President Bush and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and also appeared on various talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and Today. McElwain even won an ESPY Award for the Best Moment in Sports in 2006.
DILIEGRO TO REPRESENT COUNTRY, RELIGION
In September, Dane DiLiegro was named one of 12 members of the United States men’s basketball team that will compete at the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel from July 12-23, 2009. The announcement was made by the head coach of the U.S. men’s basketball Maccabiah team, Bruce Pearl, who is also the men’s basketball head coach at the University of Tennessee.
The Maccabiah Games, also referred to as the “Jewish Olympics,” are held in Israel every four years and include the top Jewish athletes from around the world. The 17th games in 2005 attracted the largest Maccabiah attendance in history. With over 50 countries represented by 7,700 athletes, including 900 from the U.S., the Maccabiah Games became the third largest sporting event in the world. This year, the U.S. is looking to take over 1,000 athletes, including Olympic athletes such as swimmers Dara Torres and Jason Lezak.
DiLiegro becomes the sixth UNH athlete to participate in the Maccabiah Games, including the first basketball player.
DiLiegro joins Duke’s Jon Scheyer and Arizona State’s Derek Glasser on the team, which won gold in 2001 and bronze at the previous Games in 2005. By making the U.S. squad, DiLiegro joins some elite company, including Dolph Schayes, one of the 50 Greatest NBA players of all-time, Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Brown, and Mark Spitz, who won a then-record seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, an achievement surpassed only when Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal of the 2008 Olympics.