DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will match up with Long Island University for just the second time ever Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. when the Blackbirds fly into Durham. In the first meeting, the Blackbirds came into Durham and spoiled the ‘Cats home opener by posting a 59-56 victory over the Wildcats on Dec. 3, 2005.
Long Island opened the game on a 9-0 run on three made shots from behind the 3-point line. Mike Christensen scored New Hampshire’s first basket on a layup at 16:20. James Williams poured in two unanswered 3-pointers that put the Blackbirds up by 13 at 15:31. The Wildcats closed in on the lead with 4:35 remaining in the half on a Blagoj Janev layup. That was as close as the ‘Cats would get as Long Island built its lead up to as much as 14 points with 1:23 remaining. Brandon Odom was the leading scorer for New Hampshire with nine points. Long Island shot 75 percent from behind the arc.
New Hampshire showed improvement in the second half, shooting 11-for-29 from the field and 5-for-12 from behind the arc. The Wildcats started their comeback on a 10-2 run when Janev banked two unanswered 3-pointers at 11:11 and 10:09 to cut the lead to 49-43 in favor of Long Island. Chris Vetrano hit a 3-pointer at 8:16 to pull New Hampshire within seven. Janev sank two free throws at 3:41, making it a two-point game.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in the contest, the two teams made a game of it. Paska Morkeliunas sank two free throws, putting the Blackbirds up by eight with eight seconds left. Odom converted a 3-pointer with three seconds left to make it a one-point game. But a foul was called on Vetrano, and James Williams converted both free throws to close the game.
Janev was the high-scorer as he shot 6-for-11 from the field for 16 points and grabbed six boards for New Hampshire. Odom was second in scoring with 12 points.
Morkeliunas was the game-high scorer for Long Island as it pulled off its first win of the season.
LAST TIME OUT
The fourth Wildcat loss in a row dropped the ‘Cats to 3-5, while the Bears improved to 5-3.
Abreu scored 14 points, marking the seventh time in eight games that he has hit double figures, while Christensen and Gibbs each chipped in with 10. Christensen keeps his double figure streak alive, pushing it to six straight games with 10 or more points.
The Wildcats made it tough on themselves from the start, falling behind 20-2 in the first eight minutes of the game. A 6-0 run near the end of the half cut the deficit to 13, but the Wildcats could not do much more, and went into the locker room trailing, 33-18.
The 18 points in the first half are the fewest the Wildcats have scored in any half this season, while the 52 points are the fewest the ‘Cats have registered in a game this season.
Brown shot 50 percent (12-24) from the floor in the first half, including 58 percent (7-12) from behind the arc. The Wildcats, on the other hand, shot just 20 percent (5-25) from the field and 10 percent (1-10) from 3-point land.
The two teams went bucket for bucket in the second half until Brown went on an 8-0 run to open up a 63-44 lead with 3:34 left in the game.
Abreu provided the final highlight for the Wildcats, scoring the final eight points of the game for his squad. The guard’s two 3-pointers mark the seventh time in eight games that he has recorded exactly a pair of treys.
Mark McAndrew led the Bears in scoring with 19 points.
Junior Eric Gilchrese added nine points for the Wildcats, coming off the bench for the first time this season.
The Wildcats ended up shooting 34 percent (18-53) for the game, while the Bears shot 52 percent (22-42), including 50 percent (9-18) from behind the arc.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR DOUBLE D
Freshman forward Dane DiLiegro recorded the first double-double of his career Dec. 3 versus Northeastern when he posted career-highs in points and rebounds, with 12 apiece. The double-double was the first this season for the Wildcats.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE
Freshman guard Alvin Abreu has hit a pair of 3-pointers in seven of the first seven games of his career. The only game Abreu has not recorded exactly two treys in was the Nov. 14 tilt versus Suffolk when he was 0-for-5 from behind the arc.
DOUBLE DIGIT DUO
Senior forward Mike Christensen has scored in double digits in six consecutive games. The stretch is the longest Wildcat streak this season, beating out freshman Alvin Abreu, who recorded at least 10 points in the first five games of his career.
'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.”
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 five 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.