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Men's Basketball: Slumping Wildcats lose eighth straight

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2013 01:12

Coach and player alike opened up about trouble in the locker room after the UNH men’s basketball team eighth straight loss Wednesday night. They lost 62-48 to Dartmouth University, falling to 2-8 overall, 1-5 in America East.

The team’s head coach, Bill Herrion, said that the team chemistry is abysmal right now. Wednesday night, he said, was another night where he saw his players fail to compete for a full 40 minutes of basketball, and it all goes back to poor motivation and a lack of focus, particularly in the younger players.

“What’s really disappointing,” Herrion said. “Is we have players that are getting an unbelievable opportunity, especially young payers, at this early stage of their college basketball careers, and they don’t seem to understand and grasp how great of an opportunity it is, and to understand how to go out on the court at this level and compete.”

When asked what the poor habits included, Herrion said, “Lack of attention, lack of focus, lack of competing all the time, mentally and physically. We’re having a real issue with two or three of the freshmen. We’re having an issue with a handful of our younger guys, understanding how important practice is.”

Senior guard Jordan Bronner said the players who are struggling with team chemistry show up to practice without knowing the playbook and are inconsistent with their practice habits. Some days, a certain group plays great in practice. Other days, it’s a different group of players while the others struggle to focus.

“We’re not a good practice team right now,” Bronner said. “Coach stops [practice] every five second because of guys messing up, guys don’t know what to do, and that’s not a sign of a good basketball team.”

The Wildcats did not lead in the first half Wednesday night, but in the final five minutes of the half they appeared to be the team with the momentum. Sophomore forward Frank Okeke sunk three straight three point shots to keep the Wildcats within reach of the Big Green. His third three pointer made the score 25-23 Dartmouth.

Dartmouth did not kill the momentum by the end of the half, but their forward, Connor Boehm came close to matching it when he scored on back to back possessions in the final four minutes. After Okeke had shot his third three, Boehm’s second consecutive jumper made it 27-23.

In the final minute and half, Dartmouth fouled UNH twice, restarting the clock as many times. Bronner scored with 20 seconds remaining in the half to make the score 27-25 Dartmouth, giving the Big Green only that much time to make it down court and score. When the clock had wound down to just four seconds, Dartmouth was smothered by the Wildcat defense keeping the score at 27-25 going into halftime.

Coming out of the half, it appeared that the Wildcats were carrying their momentum from the first half and into the second. Patrick Konan scored the first points of the half, muscling his way to the rim, going to the line and sinking it. This gave the Wildcats their only two digit lead of the game at 28-27.

Dartmouth punched back, though, scoring 12 consecutive points and making the score 39-28. The Wildcats never came closer than an eight point deficit for the remainder of the game.

“We just crumbled,” Bronner said. “We can’t finish a 40 minute game.”

Dartmouths’ six-foot-nine center Gabas Maldunas posted 12 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocked shots. Their point guard, Tyler Melville, scored 17 points, nine from three point range. Beohm scored 14 points, 12 from the field. The Big Green beat UNH on the boards 39-22. Dartmouth shot for 48% from the field. UNH shot for 32.6%.

Senior Patrick Konan scored 12 points before leaving the game with a minor case of cramps in one of his legs. Besides Konan, no UNH starter scored more than Bronner’s five points. Freshman guard John Edwards, who started his fifth game of the year, did not score.

Herrion likened the loss to their second half collapse on Sunday, in which they went into half time after cutting the deficit to six points, only to lose 67-48.

“It’s been happening to us a lot lately, like Stony Brook on Sunday,” Herrion said. “Six point game at the half, we don’t score, I don’t know, we only shot 19% from the floor in the second half, I think we shot 50% in the first half. We’re hitting these dry spells on offense.”

Edwards acknowledged the poor attitude that the freshmen have poisoned the team with, and he included himself in that group.

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