Bill Herrion, one of the most successful coaches in America East men’s basketball history, begins his eighth season at the University of New Hampshire with a legitimate chance to bring the first conference title in school history to Durham.
Herrion’s first seven years have yielded numerous achievements such as being fourth all-time on UNH’s wins list (83), second all-time in wins during a coach’s first five years at UNH, and only the second coach in program history to reach 50 wins in less than five full seasons. It is the previous four seasons, however, that Herrion hopes to build upon after becoming the first head coach in program history to reach three conference semifinals and just the second to make back-to-back semifinal appearances.
Last season, Herrion led the Wildcats to a 13-16 overall record, reaching double-digit wins for the fourth straight season. New Hampshire, propelled by a four-game winning streak late in conference play, secured the fifth seed in the America East tournament, but fell to No. 4 Albany in the second round. Once again, the Wildcats were one of the strongest defensive teams in the country and finished the year ranked 13th nationally in 3-point defense, limiting opponents to 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.
In the season prior, Herrion guided New Hampshire to a 12-18 record, putting together another successful campaign despite a plethora of injuries, finishing with double-digit victories for the third straight year. UNH earned the No. 7 seed in the America East tournament, but fell to second-seeded and eventual conference champion Boston University in the quarterfinals. Despite the loss, the Wildcats made their mark as one of the country’s best defensive teams, ranking 18th nationally in scoring defense by holding opponents to 60.9 points per game.
In 2009-10, UNH posted a 13-17 record and achieved numerous accomplishments that had not been reached in 15-plus seasons, including best home record (9-4) and best non-conference record (7-7). The team yielded the fewest points per game (62.4 ppg) in at least nearly 50 years, reached New Year’s Day at .500 or better for the first time in 12 years and also reached multiple attendance achievements at Lundholm Gymnasium. Despite a 6-10 record in the conference, the Wildcats upset Maine in the quarterfinal round of the America East tournament with a 68-57 win to reach the semifinals, where they fell to Vermont.
In 2008-09, Herrion led the Wildcats to their most successful campaign in nearly 15 years. The ‘Cats finished 14-16, with 14 being their highest number of victories since a 19-win campaign in 1994-95. The Wildcats were 8-8 in the conference and grabbed the No. 4 seed in the America East tournament, their best seed since 2002. Herrion guided UNH to just its sixth semifinal appearance in school history and second during his tenure. The Wildcats nearly knocked off top-seeded Binghamton, coming within two minutes of making it to – and hosting – their first title game ever.
Although the 9-20 record may not show it, the 2007-08 campaign was a giant leap in the right direction for the future of the program. The Wildcats were picked dead last in the America East preseason poll, but ended up finishing seventh out of nine teams and nearly upset the second-ranked Hartford Hawks in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. UNH began the season with only five returners from the previous year and by the end of it, had only three of those players available to suit up. Six newcomers joined the program at the beginning of the year and all of them saw significant minutes, including three who were in the top five on the team in minutes per game.
In 2006-07, the Wildcats posted a
10-20 record en route to a seventh-place finish in the conference.
The Wildcats were knocked out of the America East tournament in the
quarterfinal round, falling 64-47 to eventual champion, Albany, for
the second straight season.
Picked to finish last in the preseason America East poll in the 2005-06 season, New Hampshire rebounded in the second half of the season to finish in fifth place with a regular season record of 11-16. The Wildcats posted a conference record of 8-8 that included a regular-season sweep against UMBC, as well as conference champion, Albany. UNH advanced to the semifinals of the America East Championship, its furthest advancement since 1995.
Herrion was named the 20th men’s basketball head coach in UNH history on May 26, 2005.
Herrion, who arrived at New Hampshire after a short stint as the associate head coach at the University of 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 led 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. That same year, Herrion led Drexel to its first-ever NCAA tournament victory with a first-round upset over Memphis.
In 1998, America East celebrated its 20th year of men’s basketball by naming the 20 individuals (players, coaches, administrators) who had been the most influential in the growth of the conference over the first two decades. Four coaches were named to that team: Jim Calhoun, Rick Pitino, Mike Jarvis and Bill Herrion. Herrion is still the only coach in America East/NAC/ECAC North history to earn four Coach of the Year awards (1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999). He also has a conference-record 21 tournament wins (21-10) and is second only to Calhoun with three conference championships. The .677 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. Herrion holds an overall conference record in America East of 150-92 for a winning percentage of .620.
“I’m obviously very excited about the opportunity to be the head coach at UNH,” Herrion said when he was hired. “It’s a great opportunity to get back into America East, a league that I’m very familiar with and have a lot of respect for. We are looking forward to moving this basketball program in the right direction and to compete for the championship in America East.”
Following his success at Drexel, Herrion was hired as the head coach at East Carolina University where he lead the Pirates from 1999-2005, posting 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 tenacious 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 were 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 is a 1981 graduate of Merrimack College, where he earned his bachelor of arts degree in History.