Head Coach: Bill Herrion
2014-15 Record: 19-13 (11-5 America East; lost in semifinals of conference tournament)
Coming off one of their best seasons in school history, the New Hampshire Wildcats believe they are ready to take the next step in America East. In ESPN's preview of conference, analyst Jeff Goodman picked the Wildcats as a sleeper. UNH returns the core of their team from a year ago, losing only sharp shooter Matt Miller. The 6-foot-4 guard was the team's top three-point threat as he shot 48.1% from behind the arc while averaging 9.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG earning him third team all-conference honors.
The Wildcats notched their first winning season since 1994-95 and tied the program record for wins last year. UNH earned a four seed in the conference tournament and made it to the semifinals before losing a heartbreaker to Albany, 60-58. Earning their first postseason bid under Head Coach Bill Herrion, the Wildcats were invited to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament where they lost in the opening round to NJIT 84-77.
In New Hampshire's first game of the season, they defeated Division III opponent Lyndon State 82-45. Herrion used 8 different players n the season opener, with Tanner Leissner and Iba Camara leading the way as they combined for 36 points and 30 rebounds. Three key Wildcats' players did not play in the season opener as one was sidelined with an injury and two were serving a suspension.
UPDATE: Junior guards Daniel Dion and Joe Bramanti have been suspended for the first three games of the season for violating a team policy.
#21 Tanner Leissner, Sophomore, Forward (6-7, 210): The team's leading scorer from a year ago, Leissner averaged 12.3 PPG and 7.2 RPG while shooting 44.8% from the field and 26-74 from three. His performance on the court earned him the 2014-15 America East Rookie of the Year and second team all-conference. However, the sophomore suffered an ankle injury at the end of the season that forced him to sit out the America East Tournament. Leissner scored in double figures in 23 of 29 games last season, including four double-doubles. In the Wildcats' first game of the year, he scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
#0 Jaleen Smith, Junior, Guard (6-4, 195): One of the most improved players on the 2014-15 team, Smith led the team in minutes, steals, and assists and finished 2nd in rebounds. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 10.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 2.8 APG while shooting 41.5% from the field and 31-95 from behind the arc. Smith scored in double figures 22 times last season, dished out 4+ assists in 11 games, and pulled down 4+ rebounds 23 times. In UNH's first game of the season, he recorded a double-double, scoring 11 points and dishing out 10 assists while also grabbing 8 rebounds.
#3 Jacoby Armstrong, Junior, Forward (6-7, 230): Earned third team all-conference last season as he averaged 9.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG while shooting 51.5% from the field. Armstrong scored in double figures 16 times last season including a 20-point performance in a 64-49 loss to Vermont. The junior was held out of the first game of the year with a concussion and must pass protocol before being cleared for the game against UConn.
#10 Iba Camara. Sophomore, Forward (6-9, 225): Despite averaging just 3.0 PPG and 3.8 RPG, the big man from Senegal came on late, averaging over 20 MPG, 6.0 PPG, and 8.3 RPG in the last three games of the season. In the Wildcats' opening game, Camara scored 15 points while pulling down a ridiculous 20 rebounds. While it was against a Division III opponent, you cannot ignore a 20 rebound performance.
#5 Daniel Dion, Junior, Guard (6-0, 175): WILL NOT PLAY: The team's best returning deep threat from last season, he shot 37.6% from behind the arc while averaging 9.2 PPG. The junior has been suspended for the first three games of the season for violating a team policy.
#30 Joe Bramanti, Junior, Guard (6-2, 195): WILL NOT PLAY: The team's best defender, Bramanti earned a spot on the America East All-Defensive team last season. The junior averaged 25 minutes per game, averaged 4.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.4 APG. Like Dion, Bramanti is suspended for the first three games of the season for violating a team policy
The Wildcats are coached by Bill Herrion who is in his 11th season with the program where he has compiled a 116-181 record. Before arriving at UNH, Herrion was the head coach at East Carolina from 1999-2005 where he went 70-98 and failed to record a winning season. His greatest success came at Drexel University from 1991-1999 where he went 167-71 and made the NCAA Tournament in 1994, 1995, and 1996. Herrion posted six 20-plus win seasons during his tenure at Drexel. His career head coaching record is 353-349.
While UNH only has one senior on their roster, they are poised to make some serious noise in the America East Conference. That said, with the Wildcats not at full strength, it should be another easy night for the Huskies.