DURHAM, N.H. — The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team has set its sights high for the upcoming 2011-12 campaign. After earning the No. 7 seed in the America East Championships and falling to second-seeded and eventual conference champion Boston University in the quarterfinals, head coach Bill Herrion returns nine letterwinners from last year's squad, as the Wildcats look primed for a run at their first conference title in program history.
|Senior Alvin Abreu|
The Wildcat backcourt will be the team's backbone, as senior captain Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) returns to the squad for his fifth and final season donning the blue and white. After playing in just two games last year because of a season-ending knee injury, Abreu looks to pick up right where he left off in 2009-10 when he was named to the All-Conference Second Team. It was during that season he started in all 30 games, posting 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, leading the Wildcats to their second straight semifinal appearance in the America East Tournament.
Fellow senior guard Ryan Herrion (Dover, N.H.) will also look to contribute in the backcourt this season. The captain appeared in 17 games off the bench for the 'Cats last season, tallying seven assists and averaging 3.6 minutes per game.
Junior captain Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va.) hopes to build on a breakout 2010-11 season in which he collected America East All-Defensive Team honors and started in all 30 games. The versatile guard was equally impressive offensively, leading the team in assists (85) and ranking second in points (273).
The Wildcats also welcome back a pair of sophomore guards in Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) and Scott Morris (Walkersville, Md.), who both look to build on successful freshman campaigns.
Bronner returns for his second year as floor general after starting in 15 of 30 games last season. He finished the 2010-11 campaign on a strong note by ranking second on the team in assists (65) and steals (17) on his way to earning All-Rookie Team honors. As for Morris, he will add depth and provide UNH with some versatility off the bench with his sharp shooting from long range.
Aside from their veteran leadership, the Wildcats also welcome freshmen Garrett Jones (Chicago, Ill.) and Tommy McDonnell (Durham, N.H.) into the fold, as the pair looks to crack the rotation and make an immediate impact this season.
Jones comes to UNH after polishing off his senior campaign at Evanston Township averaging 14 points and five assists per game, leading the squad to an 18-11 record on its way to winning the CSL-South Conference Championship. The McDonald's All-American nominee also picked up All-Conference honors during his junior and senior years.
McDonnell recently finished his prep year at Bridgton Academy averaging seven points, four rebounds and two steals per game. In the three years prior, McDonnell was a standout at Oyster River High School, posting 18 points and five boards per contest during his senior year. He also collected team MVP and Foster's Daily Democrat All-Dream Team honors while playing in the New Hampshire versus Vermont all-star game during his senior campaign.
UNH will also draw strength from its frontcourt, as the Wildcats look to have one of the most athletic and well-rounded groups in the conference this season. Senior center Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y.) leads the way up front after ranking second among league leaders in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and fifth in blocks (1.1 bpg). The captain finished the season with 32 blocks, placing him fourth all-time for blocks in a single season in program history.
|Senior Brian Benson|
Junior Chris Matagrano (Sayreville, N.J.) should also provide stability at center after appearing in 21 games and making five starts last year. He showed signs of a breakout season during the team's preseason trip to Canada, averaging 11.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He will look to couple that success with his experience from last season, as he is expected to play more of a predominant role in the rotation this year.
Fellow junior Ferg Myrick (Philadelphia, Pa.) looks to take his raw talent and athleticism to the next level after suffering a season-ending knee injury last year. Before going down with the injury, Myrick emerged as one of the top offensive threats in the Wildcat rotation, posting 12.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 14 contests. The forward showed signs of promise during his freshman campaign when he claimed America East All-Rookie Team honors after registering 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
The Wildcats also add depth and skill down low with the addition of junior transfer Jeron Trotman (Huntsville, Ala.), who comes to UNH after spending the last two seasons at Centenary College. Trotman will make an immediate impact with the 'Cats after leading the Gentlemen in blocks (31) and ranking second on the team in scoring (9.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg) last season.
Sophomore forward Patrick Konan (Gainesville, Fla.) should also be a factor on both ends of the floor after sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer regulations. Konan comes to Durham after spending his freshman year with Liberty College when he started in 24 games and posted 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Kazadi Nyanguila (Montreal, Quebec) rounds out the squad's depth in the middle after playing in 10 games last year. He is currently not cleared to play by UNH's medical staff, but could potentially crack the Wildcat rotation by season's end.
With a plethora of veteran leadership and some newcomers that should make an immediate impact, the Wildcats look poised for a run at the conference title. New Hampshire will lean heavily upon its athleticism and versatility in the upcoming campaign, as Bill Herrion looks to return to the pinnacle of the America East and bring Durham its first title.