DURHAM, N.H. – Five players received awards, a pair of seniors were recognized and the team and its extended staff were honored at the annual, season-ending University of New Hampshire men’s basketball awards banquet Sunday afternoon at Huddleston Hall.
Senior guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) was recognized for his outstanding season as he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight year after carrying the Wildcats down the stretch and leading them to within seconds of their first ever America East title game.
Junior guard Colbey Santos (Onset, Mass.) received the second annual Coach Gerry Friel Award, given to the player who best exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance and academics. Gerry Friel, who passed away Aug. 20, 2007 at the age of 64, is UNH basketball’s all-time winningest coach, having compiled 188 wins from 1969-1989.
Sophomore guard Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) took home the Coaches’ Award, which is given to a men’s basketball player who has an outstanding work ethic, a good attitude, is coachable and a good leader.
Sophomore guard Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt.) was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year after drawing the assignment of covering the opponents’ best offensive player game in and game out.
Sophomore center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.), who was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, was again recognized for his willingness to do the dirty work as he garnered Rebounder of the Year honors after leading the team in rebounding.
Gibbs and fellow senior guard Eric Gilchrese (Springfield, Ill.) were then remembered for their careers at UNH and the impact they had on the program.
Junior forward Radar Onguetou (Yaounde, Cameroon) was also recognized for having been named to the America East All-Academic Team last month. Onguetou, a political science major, had the highest GPA on the five-member squad at 3.41.
Gibbs, who was named to the America East All-Conference Second Team, played in and started all 30 games during his spectacular senior season, leading the team in scoring (14.6 ppg), blocks (0.8 bpg) and minutes (33.9 mpg), and ranking second in field goal percentage (.397), 3-point field goal percentage (.394), free throw percentage (.718) and assists (2.3 apg), third in rebounding (4.5 rpg) and fourth in steals (0.7 spg). The captain’s 1,017 minutes place him sixth on UNH’s all-time single-season list, while his 25 blocks are eighth most in a single campaign.
Gibbs also reinforced his reputation as one of the deadliest 3-point shooters in the conference, knocking down 87 treys to tie Matt Alosa for most in a single season at UNH. Whenever the Wildcats needed a big shot, they looked to their leader and he responded – most notably in the season finale on Senior Day against Stony Brook when the Wildcats needed a win to lock up the fourth seed in the America East tournament. Trailing by three points on their final possession of the second half, the Wildcats turned to Gibbs, who got free off a screen and buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52 and send it to overtime. In the extra session, the Wildcats once again jumped on the back of Gibbs, who tied a career best by knocking down his sixth and final 3 with 34 seconds on the clock to give UNH a 58-57 win and their highest seed in seven years. Gibbs, who averaged 17.8 points per game over the final nine contests, finished with 21 points and 11 boards for his third career double-double.
Gibbs finished his UNH career in fifth place on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,329 points and is all over the school’s record books, including first in games played (117), second in 3-pointers made (233), minutes (3,711) and blocks (60), sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.394) and eighth in field goals made (461).
Santos played in 29 games for the Wildcats, including four starts, and averaged 3.1 points during 13.7 minutes of action per game. Santos, who was second on the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27), exploded for his best game in a UNH uniform in the America East semifinal versus Binghamton on March 8 when he poured in a career-high 17 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including 4 of 5 from behind the arc, to go along with seven rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes off the bench.
Abreu played in 27 games, including 20 starts, but missed the final three contests due to injury. Abreu averaged 12.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists, while playing 29.6 minutes per game, and finished 12th in the conference in scoring. Abreu, who is a notoriously hard worker both in the gym and the weight room, ranked first on the team in steals (1.2 spg), second in scoring, third in assists, and fourth in field goal percentage (.373) and free throw percentage (.711). Abreu was a school-record 7-for-7 from behind the arc en route to pouring in a career-high 28 points versus Santa Clara on Jan. 4.
Conley was one of three Wildcats to play in all 30 games – starting 24 – and averaged 8.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 27.8 minutes per game. Conley was third on the team in scoring, 3-point field goal percentage (.307) and steals (0.7 spg), fourth in rebounding, assists and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0), and fifth in field goal percentage (.354) and free throw percentage (.692). Conley came up one shy of his career best with 21 points against Harvard on Nov. 19 and matched a career high by dishing out six assists in an America East quarterfinal tilt with Stony Brook on March 7
DiLiegro also played in all 30 games, while starting 28 contests, which was second most on the team. DiLiegro, who pulled down a career-high 17 boards in the conference opener against Hartford on Jan. 7, was second in the conference in offense rebounding (2.9 orpg) and sixth in rebounding overall (6.9 rpg). Besides ranking first in rebounding, DiLiegro also led the squad in field goal percentage (.529), and was second in steals (0.8 spg), fourth in blocks (0.3 bpg) and fifth in scoring (5.7 ppg). DiLiegro recorded six double-digit scoring games and six double-digit rebounding games, including four double-doubles. He poured in a career-high 21 points on 10 of 14 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds against Maine on Feb. 19, and was first Wildcat in two seasons to knock down 10 baskets in a game.
Gilchrese played in just 17 games due to the death of his mother from cancer. After missing nearly seven weeks, Gilchrese returned to the team and scored 22 points of 6 of 10 shooting, including 5 of 7 from behind the arc, to help his squad erase a nine-point deficit and pick up an important win at Stony Brook on Jan. 28. Despite dealing with the effects of his loss for the remainder of the season, Gilchrese led the team in assists (2.6 apg), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), 3-point field goal percentage (.414) and free throw percentage (.750), and was fourth in scoring (8.1 ppg). Gilchrese handed out a season-high six assists March 1 on Senior Day to help lead the Wildcats to the win against Stony Brook.
Onguetou played in 28 games, including 23 starts, and averaged 5.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 24.3 minutes per game. Onguetou ranked 11th in the conference in rebounding, and finished second on the team in rebounding, third in field goal percentage (.387) and free throw percentage, and sixth in scoring. The Cameroon native netted a career-high 16 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists against Hartford on Feb. 4, and also narrowly missed double-doubles Jan. 31 against Vermont (9 pts, 10 rebs) and Feb. 26 versus Albany (12 pts, 9 rebs).
The Wildcats put together their most successful season in 15 years, finishing 14-16 overall and 8-8 in the conference. The ‘Cats earned the fourth seed – their highest since the 2002 season – in the America East tournament and came within seconds of their first title game, falling to eventual champion Binghamton in the semifinals.