DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will meet Iona College for just the second time ever Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. when the Wildcats play host to the Gaels fly. In the first meeting, the Wildcats posted four scorers in double-digits en route to defeating the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champions, 67-52, at the Hynes Athletic Center on Dec. 22, 2006.
The Wildcats were led by senior captains Blagoj Janev and Jermaine Anderson, who combined for 24 points and nine rebounds. Janev, who was named the America East Player of the Game, posted an all-around effort with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Anderson shot a perfect 5-of-5 at the charity stripe as the senior guard tallied 11 points and four assists in the victory.
UNH shot a season-high 44.9 percent for the game on 22-of-49 from the floor. The Wildcats also posted a season-high 42 first-half points and went into halftime with a comfortable 42-34 lead. The stingy Wildcat defense held its opponents to 55 points or less for the third consecutive game.
With the score tied 31-31 with 4:46 remaining in the first half, the Wildcats finished the half strong - using an 11-3 run - and never looked back. Junior forward Mike Christensen notched 11 of his 15 points off the bench to propel UNH in the first half. The second half was more of the same as the UNH defense held the Gaels to just 18 second-half points. Sophomore guard Tyrece Gibbs tallied seven of his ten points in the second half as he connected on 2-of-3 shots from beyond the arc.
For the game, UNH shot a season best 14-of-19 from the charity stripe (73.7%) and the defense caused 16 Iona turnovers. The Wildcats connected on 9-of-23 (39.1%) shots from beyond the arc as they halted a four-game losing streak and recorded their second road win of the season.
The Gaels were led by St. John’s transfer Dexter Gray, who posted a game-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists, while Anthony Bruin notched eight points and five boards in the loss.
LAST TIME OUT
The loss dropped the Wildcats to 3-6, while the win improved the Blackbirds’ record to 6-3.
Playing a career-high 38 minutes, Abreu tallied a career-high 23 points, including a career-high four 3-pointers, and added four rebounds. Abreu, the America East Player of the game, was named America East Rookie of the Week earlier in the day.
Junior guard Eric Gilchrese netted 16 points, freshman forward Rony Tchatchoua poured in a career-high 14 and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs chipped in with 10. Gilchrese added six assists and four rebounds, Tchatchoua matched his career high with seven boards and Gibbs recorded five rebounds and five assists.
After the Blackbirds jumped out to a 9-2 lead to start the game, they used an 11-0 run to take a 24-9 lead midway through the opening half. A 17-7 Wildcat run cut the LIU lead to 34-28, but a 10-4 run to close out the half by Long Island made it 44-32 and ended the seesaw battle in the Blackbirds’ favor.
Long Island went on a 16-5 run to open the second half and take a 23-point lead – its largest of the game – just six minutes in. The Wildcats fought back however, receiving 3-pointers from Gilchrese, Abreu and Gibbs to craft a 13-0 run that cut Long Island’s lead to 60-50.
The Wildcats scored the final six points of the game, but never got closer in the second half.
Kyle Johnson led the Blackbirds with 16 points.
Senior forward Mike Christensen scored six points to snap his double-digit scoring streak at six games.
Abreu had recorded exactly two treys in seven of the first eight games before hitting four against Long Island.
ABREU TAKES HOME WEEKLY CONFERENCE HONOR
The America East conference announced Dec. 10 that freshman guard Alvin Abreu was named America East Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Week for the week ending Dec. 9.
Abreu averaged 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game over the last week in losses against Northeastern University at home (62-57) and Brown University on the road (68-52). Abreu scored 10 points and added five rebounds against the Huskies, and matched his career high by netting 14 points versus the Bears.
Abreu, who ranks first in the conference among rookies in scoring at 11.3 points per game, has scored in double digits in eight of nine games and has recorded at least two 3-pointers in eight of nine games this season.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE
Freshman guard Alvin Abreu has hit at least two 3-pointers in eight of the first nine games of his career, including the last seven in a row. The only game Abreu has not recorded at least two treys in was the Nov. 14 tilt versus Suffolk when he was 0-for-5 from behind the arc.
DOUBLE DIGIT DUO
Freshman guard Alvin Abreu has scored in double digits in eight of the first nine games this season, including the last three straight. Senior forward Mike Christensen owns the longest Wildcat double-digit scoring streak this season with six consecutive games.
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.
'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.