Men's Basketball: Wildcats slowly turning season around
Six games ago, the University of New Hampshire men's basketball team lost to conference foe Binghamton 67-38, marking its 13th consecutive loss. The loss was tough to swallow and exposed the team by taking away its style of play that is heavily based on defense. From the changing of lineups, battling of injuries and missed chances, the Wildcats remain at work regardless of what their 5-15 record shows.
Since the loss to Binghamton, New Hampshire has improved to 3-2 over its last five games and is currently riding a two-game winning streak in which UNH knocked off conference foes Albany, 60-56, and UMass Lowell, 61-32, respectively.
With senior center Chris Pelcher now back in the lineup as a big presence under the basket and freshman standouts Daniel Dion, Jaleen Smith, Jacoby Armstrong and Williams Gabriel stepping up their game, the team's "never give up" attitude is leading to a more successful stretch of play in recent weeks.
"We came back after that Binghamton game making a commitment to get back to who we are as a team," head coach Bill Herrion said. "We have always been a very good man-to-man team and the last five games our defense has been terrific. The defense is really giving us a chance to win games."
With only nine games left in the regular season, New Hampshire aims to get back to being healthy and getting more players in its lineup. While heading towards the American East tournament, where the players know they have a chance of getting a bid in the NCAA tournament despite a lopsided record, the players are fully committed to making a run this season.
According to Herrion, this team has never even thought of "throwing in the towel."
"Absolutely not and not even close," Herrion said. "Even when we lost 13 games in a row we never thought of it. Their attitude has been terrific this whole season and obviously winning helps."
Pelcher, one of the vocal leaders in the locker room who was sidelined due to injury for a stretch of games, points out the rookies who have made a big step at improving their game during a time of injuries and setbacks for veteran players.
"Jacoby has been playing well, Daniel has been playing really well, making some big shots for us. Jaleen has been solid, and Gabe has been great," Pelcher said.
The team's goal for the rest of the season is to win as many games as possible.
"Winning three games in March is what it's all about," Pelcher said. "It doesn't matter what your record is when you get to the American East tournament. No matter if you're the top team or the bottom team you have to win three games to get to the NCAA tournament."
Rob Wilson can be reached on Twitter @RobWilson_TNH
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