DURHAM, N.H. – Seven players received awards, the squad's three 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 forward James Valladares (Kaufman, Texas) received the fourth 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.
Senior center Dane DiLiegro (Lexington, Mass.) and junior forward Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) both garnered Rebounder of the Year honors. It was the third straight season DiLiegro has taken home the award, finishing the season with 8.2 boards per game. He finishes second all-time in both rebounding (854) and games played (116). As for Benson, he earns the honor for the first time in his career after a breakout junior campaign, leading the Wildcats on the glass with 8.3 boards per game. Benson finished the year garnering America East All-Academic Team honors for the second straight season.
Freshman guard Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) was named the team's Rookie of the Year, piecing together a strong first season for the 'Cats. Bronner earned America East All-Rookie Team honors after dishing out 65 assists and ranking 10th in the league with 2.7 helpers per game in conference action.
Sophomore guard Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) earned the team's Defensive Player of the Year award, after consistently playing solid defense on the perimeter all season long. Rhoads, who was selected to the America East All-Defensive Team this year, also boosted his production on the offensive end of the floor, registering 9.1 points and 2.8 assists per game during his sophomore campaign.
Sophomore guard Ryan Herrion (Dover, N.H.) rounded out the award winners, claiming the Wildcat Award for his perseverance and determination shown throughout the season. After missing the entire 2009-10 campaign due to injury, Herrion rebounded strongly, appearing in a career-high 17 games off the bench, averaging 3.6 minutes per contest this year.
The Wildcats put together another successful season despite a plethora of injuries, finishing their third straight season with double-digit victories. New Hampshire went 12-18 overall, earning the No. 7 seed in the America East tournament, but fell to second-seeded and eventual conference champion Boston University in the quarterfinals.
The senior trio of Conley, DiLiegro and Valladares wrap up their careers one win shy of matching the all-time wins mark for a UNH senior class and also narrowly missed out on being the only UNH senior class ever to make three consecutive semifinal appearances.