MEN'S BASKETBALL OPENS SEASON AGAINST SUFFOLK ON NOV. 16

COMPLETE NOTES | LIVE STATS | LIVE VIDEO

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will open its season when it plays host to Suffolk University on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Wildcats and Rams meet for just the third time ever, with UNH leading the all-time series, 2-0. Both wins came in UNH home-openers, first in 2004-05 and again last season. The ‘Cats beat the Rams, 89-55, in their first-ever meeting. In the most recent meeting, junior guard Eric Gilchrese and freshman guard Tyrone Conley combined for 42 points to lead the Wildcats to a 95-46 victory over Suffolk University at Lundholm Gymnasium on Nov. 14, 2007.

The win, the Wildcats’ first of the season, evened their record at 1-1. The 95 points are the most the ‘Cats have scored in a game since Dec. 6. 2001, when they defeated New England College, 96-51, at Lundholm. The 49-point margin of victory is also the largest for UNH, dating back to the 1941-42 season – and possibly ever. Records prior to that season are incomplete.

Gilchrese scored 25 points in 27 minutes on 7-of-11 shooting and also added seven steals and five assists, while Conley added 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists and was also 7-for-11 from the field.

After Suffolk, which turned the ball over 27 times in the game, scored first to go on top 2-0, the Wildcats scored 14 unanswered points as part of an 18-2 run. The ‘Cats put together a 12-4 run immediately after, and led 30-8 with 10:56 to play.

A 12-0 run gave UNH a 49-15 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the first half. The ‘Cats took a 58-23 lead into the locker room at halftime. The 35-point lead was their largest of the game at the time.

Gilchrese, the America East Player of the Game, scored 21 of his points in the first half, while Conley tallied 12 in the first frame.

Led by the 11 points and five rebounds of Rony Tchatchoua the Wildcats continued to pull away in the second half. An 18-4 run to start the half put the ‘Cats up 76-27 with 12:22 remaining.

Alan Jaziri, whose 14 points was the only double-digit figure in the Suffolk points column, knocked down a couple of shots to cut UNH’s lead to 44.

The ‘Cats, who shot 53 percent from the floor, came right back with a 13-4 run that gave them a 51-point lead – their largest of the game – with 1:58 remaining in the contest. A Joesph Ransom layup with 25 seconds left on the clock closed the scoring.

Freshman guard Alvin Abreu added 12 points for the Wildcats, while freshman forward James Valladares ripped down nine rebounds.

Senior forward Mike Christensen contributed eight points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes, and junior guard Tyrece Gibbs tallied seven assists to go along with his seven points.

LAST TIME OUT

Senior Tyrece Gibbs, junior Colbey Santos and sophomore Tyrone Conley all scored in double figures to lead the Wildcats to an 82-52 victory over Worcester Polytechnic Institute at Lundholm Gymnasium on Nov. 8, in the team’s final exhibition tune-up.

Gibbs, the America East Player of the Game, tallied 10 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Santos and Conley led the Wildcats with 11 points apiece. Both Santos and Conley were 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

UNH opened the game with a 17-2 run, which was capped by five straight points from Santos with 12:09 left in the first half. A 16-3 run, which included another Santos trey, put the Wildcats up, 33-10 with just under five minutes to play before the break. The ‘Cats would widen their advantage by one and head into the locker room with a 43-19 edge.

Junior Radar Onguetou and sophomore Rony Tchatchoua both notched all eight of their points in the first half. Onguetou, who looked good in his first “real” game back from an injury that caused him to miss nearly the entire year last season, finished the game with six rebounds, while Tchatchoua added three. Tchatchoua was also a perfect 6-for-6 at the line in the game.

A pair of Conley 3-pointers in just over two minutes opened up the Wildcat lead to 60-30 nearly six minutes into the second half. The final 3 of the afternoon for Santos, who is in his first season with the Wildcats after sitting out last season following his transfer from James Madison University, gave UNH its biggest lead of the day, 67-32, midway through the frame.

A 5-1 run by the Engineers sliced the UNH lead to 29, but the Wildcats built it back up to 33 with six straight points from sophomore Alvin Abreu and took a 77-44 lead with 3:45 to play. UNH put an exclamation point on the contest with a trey from freshman Ryan Herrion that put the Wildcats on top, 82-49 with 1:35 remaining.

Abreu poured in nine points for UNH, while senior Eric Gilchrese added eight points, four assists and two rebounds. Sophomore Dane DiLiegro also had a nice game, tallying eight points, five rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal. Freshman Russell Graham chipped in with four points and an assist, while junior Abby Kabba tallied two points and two rebounds in four minutes. Freshman Brian Benson pulled down five rebounds, while sophomore James Valladares grabbed two boards.

Jerome Stewart led all scorers with 12 points for WPI.

UNH shot 50 percent (29-58) from the field, including 60 percent (15-25) in the first half. The ‘Cats were 11 of 22 from behind the arc in the game. The Wildcats defense was impressive as well, especially in the first half when it held WPI to just 24 percent (6-25) shooting.

REPEAT PERFORMANCE?

In last season’s home-opener, the Wildcats defeated Suffolk, 95-46. The 49-point margin of victory was the largest in the history of the program dating back to the 1941-42 season – and possibly ever. Records prior to that season are incomplete. The 95 points are the most the ‘Cats have scored in a game since Dec. 6. 2001, when they defeated New England College, 96-51, at Lundholm.

THREE FOR ALL

Tyrece Gibbs, Alvin Abreu and Tyrone Conley all took home conference hardware at the annual America East banquet last season. Gibbs was named to the America East All-Conference Third Team, while Abreu and Conley were chosen for the All-Rookie Team. UNH was the only team with two of its players to garner spots on the five-member All-Rookie Team.

TY-RRIFIC

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. The guard is currently fifth all-time on UNH’s 3-pointers made list (146), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.392) and eighth in 3-point attempts (371). Gibbs, who is 110 points shy of 1,000 for his career, is also close to moving into the top 10 in field goals made, field goals attempted, assists, blocks, games played and total minutes.

ABREU ONE OF TOP FRESHMEN LAST SEASON

At the end of last season, Alvin Abreu was named a CollegeHoops.net Honorable Mention Mid-Major All-Freshman. Abreu, who was a three-time America East Rookie of the Week during the season (Dec. 10, Jan. 7, Feb. 25), was also named to the America East All-Rookie Team before the start of the tournament.   

Abreu, who was one of just two freshman, and four players overall, to play in all 29 games for the Wildcats, led all America East rookies and was second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg). He also led the team in free throw percentage (.818), was second in 3-pointers made (62) and was fourth in rebounding (3.8 rpg) and assists (1.8 apg). The 62 treys are tied for the eighth most in a single season at UNH, while the free throw percentage of 81.8 is the 10th-best single-season mark in school history.

TREY-MENDOUS STREAK FOR 'CATS

Heading into today’s contest UNH has recorded at least one 3-pointer in 488 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 668 games by UNLV, a streak that started Nov. 26, 1986 and is still active.

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.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

The Wildcats welcome in five newcomers this season, including a pair who have been around the program before this year. Junior Colbey Santos is eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer from James Madison University. The 6-foot-5-inch Santos will provide another athletic body and a deadly shooting ability to aid the Wildcats’ offensive attack. Freshman Ryan Herrion, the son of head coach Bill Herrion, played at Dover (N.H.) High School where he averaged 25.0 points and 5.0 assists per game last season en route to being named the Foster’s Daily Democrat Dream Team Player of the Year. Herrion, a 6-0, 165-pound walk-on, will add depth on the perimeter for the Wildcats.   

Freshmen Russell Graham, a 6-0, 185-pound guard, also joins the Wildcat back court. Graham is a tough, heady point guard and a solid defender who comes from a very successful high school program. Graham played at Norristown (Pa.) High School, where he averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his career. The Eagles finished 32-2 last season after an undefeated regular season in which Graham was named League Player of the Year, Times Herald Co-Player of the Year and First Team All-Area.    

The Wildcats also add Abby Kabba and Brian Benson to the mix in the front court. Kabba, a 6-6, 210-pound junior, is a quick, jack-of-all-trades type player; a good rebounder and solid defender. Kabba played his first two seasons at Northern Oklahoma, a junior college, where he averaged 6.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season. The 6-8, 190-pound Benson played at Greece-Althena High School, where he holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a season. Benson, a long and athletic freshman who is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, averaged 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season en route to being named Monroe County Division II Player of the Year and an All-Greater Rochester First Team member.


2008-09 OUTLOOK

University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion enters his fourth season at the helm with what is the most quality depth the program has possessed during his tenure. With eight letterwinners – including four starters – returning, combined with five impact newcomers, the Wildcats should be much improved and in contention for their first America East title.

Despite losing 1,000-point scorer Mike Christensen and hard-working walk-on Shawn Tobey, the Wildcats bring back nearly their entire roster, led by senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) and junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon). Gibbs was a workhorse for the Wildcats last season, playing in all 29 games while averaging a team-best 35.8 minutes per contest. The America East All-Conference Third Team honoree did it all in 2007-08, leading the squad in scoring (14.4 ppg), 3-point field goal percentage (.407), assists (3.1 apg) and blocks (0.62 bpg). Onguetou returns at full strength this season after being limited to just four games last year due to a knee injury. A naturally gifted rebounder who averaged nearly five boards per game in the four contests he appeared in, Onguetou will bring much-needed leadership and toughness back into the Wildcat frontcourt.

Gibbs will be joined in the backcourt by fellow senior Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.). Last season – his first with the Wildcats – the point guard poured in 10.2 points per game while leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.48) and steals (1.54 spg). Gilchrese showed his toughness as well, playing 28-of-29 games despite dealing with an injury down the stretch. Also returning are sophomore guards and 2008 America East All-Rookie Team members Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) and Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.). Abreu, who was also selected as a CollegeHoops.net Honorable Mention Mid-Major All-Freshman, led all America East rookies and was second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg). Abreu played in all 29 contests while splitting time between the one- and two-guard spots for the Wildcats. Conley showed off his athleticism and leaping ability while averaging 8.8 points per game last season. Conley appeared in 27 games despite battling illness for nearly a month. The Wildcats also have 6-foot-5-inch Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) eligible to play after sitting out last season following his transfer from James Madison University. Santos will provide another athletic body and a deadly shooting ability to aid the Wildcats’ offensive attack. The program also welcomes two other newcomers into the backcourt in freshmen Russell Graham (Norristown, Pa.) and Ryan Herrion (Dover, N.H.). The 6-0, 185-pound Graham is a tough, heady point guard and a solid defender who comes from a very successful high school program. Graham played at Norristown (Pa.) High School, where he averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his career. The Eagles finished 32-2 last season after an undefeated regular season in which Graham was named League Player of the Year, Times Herald Co-Player of the Year and First Team All-Area. Herrion, the son of head coach Bill Herrion, played at Dover (N.H.) High School where he averaged 25.0 points and 5.0 assists per game last season en route to being named the Foster’s Daily Democrat Dream Team Player of the Year. Herrion, a 6-0, 165-pound walk-on, will add depth on the perimeter for the Wildcats.

The UNH frontcourt will once again be anchored in the middle by sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.). DiLiegro played in all 29 contests last season, while leading all America East rookies and the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg). The big man recorded six double-digit rebound games, including his first career double-double. Sophomores Rony Tchatchoua (Douala, Cameroon) and James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) also return to provide big bodies and quality depth in the frontcourt. Tchatchoua played in 23 games while averaging 4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game off the bench. Valladares, who added muscle and improved his game during the offseason, saw action in 26 games, providing a valuable 9.6 minutes per game off the bench while backing up DiLiegro at center. The Wildcats also add newcomers Abby Kabba (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) to the mix. Kabba, a 6-6, 210-pound junior, is a quick, jack-of-all-trades type player; a good rebounder and solid defender. Kabba played his first two seasons at Northern Oklahoma, a junior college, where he averaged 6.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game last season. The 6-9, 205-pound Benson played at Greece-Althena High School, where he holds the record for most offensive rebounds in a season. Benson, a long and athletic freshman who is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, averaged 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season en route to being named Monroe County Division II Player of the Year and an All-Greater Rochester First Team member.

With greater depth, a solid nucleus and a group of talented athletes, the 2008-09 Wildcats should be in the mix for the America East title.

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