Posts Tagged ‘New Hampshire’

Past the Point of Moral Victories

Monday, December 17th, 2012

New Hampshire guard Chandler Rhoads is met at the rim by Boston College forward Patrick Heckmann with 30 seconds remaining in regulation and the game tied 52-52. Rhoads got a point-blank look, with Heckmann rotating over late, but could not convert and the Wildcats fell in overtime, 61-59, at Conte Forum (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Chestnut Hill, MA) — On a cold winter’s eve on the first of December in 1986, beneath dirty-yellow light which drifted down over creaking wooden-bleachers in a mostly empty Lundholm Gymnasium, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats stepped onto the deadwood floorboards over their home court and knocked off the Boston College Eagles.

It has been 26 years since that frigid night in Durham. 11 times since then, the Wildcats and Eagles have taken the hardwood opposite each other. And 11 times the Wildcats have gone home empty-handed. Many times during that stretch New Hampshire was within one Austin Ganly tomahawk-slam, one Tyrece Gibbs step-back three, one Dane DiLiegro floor-burn dive, and one Alvin Abreu heart-and-hustle play, of an upset win.

Late Sunday afternoon, New Hampshire stood 58 seconds away from finally ripping victory away from Boston College. Three times, the Wildcats were within one play of knocking off the Eagles on their home floor at Conte Forum.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m long past moral victories,” said New Hampshire head coach Bill Herrion, standing outside the team bus following the Wildcats 61-59 overtime loss – a soft rain turning to snow beneath a rapidly-darkening grey sky; the darkened hulk of Alumni Stadium serving as a back drop for the impromptu interview.

“I thought we had a very good chance of winning if we played our game and executed,” said Herrion, “We had chances; we just didn’t get it done.” (more…)

America East Recap, 11/10/12

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The America East followed up a nice start to the 2012-2013 campaign with a dud. Hartford lost valiantly, a Maine team that is supposed to have finally distanced itself from the collapses of seasons past was embarrassed by a bad Dartmouth squad.

Most embarrassing of all, New Hampshire murdered a Division III squad. If the league is banning members from post-season play (which is well within the league’s rights and we have no bones with) and drop their RPI requirements for opponents (ditto), we’d also like to see it put the kibosh on non-DI games, like yesterday.

Dartmouth 67, Maine 54
Ouch. If this is supposed to be the Black Bears’ year (so was last year, and the year before that, and the year before that), this certainly was not the way to start it.

Maine was soundly thumped by a bottom of the barrel Ivy League team fielding the second most inexperienced roster in all of college basketball. The Black Bears shot just 36% from the floor, 15% from three, turned the ball over 17 times to just seven assists, and generally made a team that won a whopping total of five games last season look like world beaters.

The loss was hardly an encouraging sign for a Black Bears that has ended each of the past three seasons in Hindenburg-esque fashion.

OBW Preseason First Team All-Conference pick Alasdair Fraser took just four shots, finishing with two points and eight rebounds, turned the ball over five times and fouled out in 36 minutes of action. His limited touches were quite concerning. Last season Fraser emerged as the Black Bears best, most reliable (and at times unstoppable) offensive weapon, yet found himself lost in the offense down the stretch.

Sophomore Justin Edwards, who looked like a world beater during the first half of last season, scored 12 points, but on 4-of-12 shooting to go along with four turnovers. In his debut at point guard, Xavier Pollard – a natural all-energy combo guard – made a big impact on the defensive end with four steals, but sputtered running the offense, scoring 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting

Senior forward Mike Allison was the lone bright spot for the Black Bears, scoring 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting while pulling down 11 rebounds. (more…)

Season Preview Part 5: X-Men. Examining the X-Factors of the America East

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

When looking ahead and projecting the upcoming season, we always look at the prospective stars of each team. It’s only natural – they are the go-to-guys, the players who take center stage when the lights are the brightest, the ones who can put the team on their backs and carry them when the chips are down.

Yet in the good-enough-on-guts America East, examples of a lone star player single-handedly carrying a team to a championship without big contributions from role players and supporting cast are almost non-existent.

Guys like Jose Juan Barea and Kenny Adeleke, tremendous individual talents who went it alone without cohesive team chemistry and a good supporting cast, never won a thing.

For all of their heroics, Taylor Coppenrath and T.J. Sorrentine had the likes of super role players Grant Anderson, David Hehn and the immortal Germain Mopa-Njila doing the little things. Jamar Wilson had Levi Levine, Lucious Jordan, and Brent Wilson to do the dirty work. Chaz Carr and Billy Collins had Stijn Dhondt setting bone crushing screens and Ryan Butt battling it out in the paint. Marqus Blakely could pass out of the double team to a perfectly positioned Evan Fjeld for easy buckets, or rely on Joey Accaoui to bury the three.

The America East has always been a league where hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. With fewer true stars and less high-level talent returning to the league than any other time prior in conference history, now more than ever, the conference title may be decided by the supporting cast.

Here is a look at our X-Men: the “X-Factors” – unknown or unproven players flying under the radar who could play a big role in the success or failure of each of the nine America East squads. (more…)

Rivalry Renewed: America East alums Dane DiLiegro and John Holland take their competition, friendship, to the world stage.

Monday, November 5th, 2012

John Holland is playing in the Spanish ACB League, widely regarded as the top domestic league in the world outside of the NBA.

The America East season may not begin until Albany tips off against Duquesne on Friday, November 9th at 6:30 pm, but two days earlier, an America East rivalry will be renewed. Only this time, instead of the dirty orange light of the glorified high school gymnasiums of the AE, it will be played under the bright lights of the world stage.

Nearly five years ago, on cold Boston night in January of 2008, two unheralded freshmen took the floor in an empty Case Gymnasium. Half a decade, over 3,600 miles, and an ocean away from their first encounter, former University of New Hampshire Wildcat Dane DiLiegro and former Boston University Terrier John Holland will face off again Wednesday night; the tenth time in their careers that they have gone head-to-head, but the first time as professionals.

Holland and DiLiegro will be playing in the Eurocup, a transnational professional basketball league — second only to the prestigious EuroLeague — comprised of top teams from the top leagues in Europe. DiLiegro will be taking the floor for Banco Di Sardigna Sassari of the Italian SerieA League, the top league in Italy and one of the top domestic leagues in the world outside of the NBA. Holland will be suiting up for Cajasol Banca Civica Sevilla of the Spanish ACB League, the top league in Spain and arguably the top domestic league in the world after the NBA.

“Its unbelievable being able to play against him again,” said DiLiegro excitedly while relaxing in Sassari, a city that sits on the northwest coast of the island of Sardigna, Italy. “I’m hoping that maybe I can get the opportunity to make him miss a free throw by making him laugh or something.”

“It’s going to be really fun to compete against him again.” said Holland, enjoying some down time in Sevilla, a city that sits on the Guadalquivir River in Spain. “I always admire his energy.” (more…)

The Coaches Preseason Predictions – Sam Perkins responds.

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Today was Media Day in the America East. Coaches and athletic personnel from every team converged on SEFCU Arena in Albany for the league luncheon, meet-and-greet, and lots and lots of press conferences to kick off the 2012-2013 season.

It was on Albany’s home court – the site of the 2013 America East Tournament – that the official Preseason Coaches’ Poll was unveiled, revealing the predicted standings of the nine America East schools as voted on by the league coaches, as well as the preseason All-Conference selections.

There is always some gamesmanship that goes into the picks (acknowledging upperclassmen, nods of respect coaches – both accomplished and on the hot seat – and even some general ribbing), so they should be taken with a grain of salt (just take a look at the number of years in a row that BU was tabbed first).

Without revealing OBW’s own preseason predictions, which will be published in the near future, here is Sam Perkins’ breakdown of the nine America East teams in ascending order of how the coaches’ selected them. (more…)

America East Tournament in Microcosm — Moment 4, 3/3/12: An impossible void to fill

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Adam Manison

(West Hartford, CT) — As he walked towards the locker room, the final horn of his career having already turned to echoes in an empty arena, New Hampshire senior Alvin Abreu took one last look at his surroundings, and pulled his jersey over his head and off for the final time.

There was no standing ovation in his final moments on the court, no curtain call after he peeled off his number 25 – removing the embroidered “New Hampshire” from his chest – for the final time.

Often, there is no justice in the forgotten corners of Division I basketball.

If anyone ever deserved to set foot on the games biggest stage and experience one moment under the bright lights of the NCAA tournament, it was Abreu. If deserving had anything to do with it, Abreu’s career would have culminated under the blinding spotlight of the NCAA tournament.

Instead, only empty chair backs, dirty orange light, and a sparse crowd of opposing fans who never knew – or cared to know – his story, were the sole witnesses to the end of his career.

As Clint Eastwood’s Will Munny said to Gene Hackman’s Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven, “‘Deserve’s’ got nothin’ to do with it.”

In the America East, where the entire careers – and an incredible amount of humanity – are played out in the obscurity of empty arenas, it never does. (more…)

Toughing it out: Albany shows resolve in gritty quarterfinal win over New Hampshire

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

(West Hartford, CT) — As Albany head coach Will Brown approached the podium, a question rang out.

“Coach, how many points did you score in your career compared to what Suero scored tonight?” sniped one intrepid member of the media, referencing the 24 points Brown’s star wing, Gerardo Suero, dropped on the Wildcats.

“If I’d have taken as many shots as Suero, I’d be in the basketball Hall of Fame,” said Brown with a wry smile , drawing hearty laughs from Suero, as well as Albany players Mike Black and Blake Metcalf.

Getting into a verbal sparring match with the Great Danes silver-tongued coach is usually akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight, and Brown remains the quickest draw in the America East.

Brown was all smiles following a 63-45 win over New Hampshire in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament – his first tournament victory in three years. For the first time in a long time, Brown appears to have an on the court arsenal that matches the one he brings to post-game pressers.

More importantly, the Danes finally have the heart and resolve.

“My group has turned into a very resilient group. This is not the group that we expected to have heading into the America east Conference Tournament,” said Brown. “This group has really come together and played some good basketball.”

Brown was all smiles following a 63-45 win over New Hampshire in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament – his first tournament victory in three years.

“There is not one team in this league that is winning in this tournament without 2 of their top guys playing so for us to win and advance says a lot about the resiliency of our kids.” (more…)

Winning Ugly: Stony Brook stays atop the America East standings despite being out-shot by Wildcats

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

(Durham, NH) – Good teams find a way to win even when they don’t play well.

Visiting Stony Brook lost the turnover battle to host New Hampshire (14 to 12), and the Seawolves were outshot from both the floor (31.1 percent to 36.7) and behind the arc (18.8 percent to 28 percent), while registering only 4 assists to 14 turnovers. Stony Brook leading scorers Bryan Dougher and Dave Coley, along with starting forwards Dallis Joyner and Al Rapier, were all held below their season averages.

Yet, at the final buzzer, the Seawolves stood comfortably in control, with a 57-48 win.

Stony Brook won the game on the defensive end, on the glass, and at the free-throw line. The Seawolves out-rebounded New Hampshire 40-24; the 14th straight game in which the Seawolves have out-rebounded their opponent. Stony Brook made 26 of 33 free-throws to UNH’s 5-7, and scored 10 points off turnovers, compared to New Hampshire’s three.

“We knew it’d be a grind and it was,” said Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell. “Lucky to get on the bus with a win. Did enough to win; our defense again held a team to under 50 points.”

The Seawolves defense ranks as the league’s best in scoring defense (55.1 ppg) and field goal percent defense (.396) in America East games. In 12 conference games, America East opponents have only broken 60 points against Stony Brook three times.

New Hampshire managed just four offensive rebounds to Stony Brook’s 12, as the Wildcats were outscored 10-3 in second chance points.

“We don’t really have an inside game where we can just throw it to the post, and, consequently, we had nothing on the offensive glass,” said New Hampshire head coach Bill Herrion. (more…)

Busted Brackets: Sam Perkins sounds off on the hyped up nothing that is the BracketBusters, but he’s still jacked-up for one match-up

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The match-ups for the ESPN BracketBusters (to be played the weekend of February 18th and 19th) were announced today, and the America East (other than the lovely spin/hype job released by the league office) let out a collective yawn that reverberated around the league.

ESPN first launched the BracketBusters tournament in 2003 with the goal of capitalizing on the buzz of promising mid-major programs that could “bust brackets” during the NCAA tournament by upsetting power-conference favorites.

In its first year, the ‘Buster featured a select field of only 18 teams – the “best and brightest” of the mid-majors – that were viewed as having the best chance at shaking up The Big Dance.

Two years later, the America East broke into the ‘Buster, as Vermont – pegged during the preseason by both ESPN the Magazine and Sports Illustrated as a Cinderella in the making, and followed during the season and featured on ESPN’s documentary series “The Season – squared off against Nevada.

2005 was a great year for the AE, as the UVM/Nevada tilt was viewed by many as THE game of the BracketBusters and was featured during a prime-time timeslot on ESPN. UVM eventually fell to a Nevada team featuring several potential/future NBA-ers, but Taylor Coppenrath, T.J. Sorrentine, and the rest of the Catamounts took the heavily-hyped Wolf Pack to the wire.

The Catamounts exposure garnered even more national interest in the program, as a new legion of fans followed the Catamounts through their “Upset City” victory over 4th seeded Syracuse in the NCAA tournament later that year (arguably the greatest win in America East history).

It was everything that the BracketBusters was supposed to be: A showcase of the best of the best of the mid-majors, generating publicity and hype for teams that would later shake up the NCAA tournament.

Then it all went terribly, terribly wrong: Big-time advertisers got involved, ESPN tried to cash in on every single last dime, nickel and penny, and the tournament got so morbidly obese, twisted, and corrupted that virtually every mid-major in the country is now involved. (more…)

Walking Tall: Chris Brown relied on a heart seemingly the size of a basketball to go from walk-on to First Team All-Conference Player and International Pro.

Friday, January 6th, 2012

A version of this story is currently running on

This is the first of a multi-part series profiling notable America East Walk-ons.

Ten thousand miles, two oceans, and 10 years separate Chris Brown from Dorchester, but in his heart, he says, he’s still a kid from Walsh Park.

Brown, an American East Conference first-team player who spent five years playing professional ball in Japan and Australia, credits his upbringing in Boston with teaching him the value of hard work and determination.

“Dorchester was a tough place growing up, but it was amazing,” Brown said in a recent interview from his home in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, where he has settled down after being sidelined by an illness.

“The experiences I had growing up in Dorchester really taught me how to fight — not physically, but in regards to wanting the most out of life. There was always a challenge to succeed and be the best at whatever I did.”

Married and the father of a five-month-old son, Brown recently completed building a house on the oceanfront and is the manager of caseworkers for the largest foster care agency in Australia. He reflected back on his youth, spent a few blocks from the Ashmont T Stop, where he witnessed some of the worst of a section of the city that boasts one of Boston’s highest violent crime rates. (more…)