College Basketball: UNH teams looking to bouce back
DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire men’s and women’s basketball teams, looking to bounce back from some rough times a year ago, open the 2013-14 season with a doubleheader against Division III teams at Lundholm Gymnasium on Saturday night.
The women take on Worcester State at 5 p.m. and the men face Suffolk University at 7:30.
Maureen Magarity’s women’s team was picked fourth in the pre-season America East coaches poll behind Albany, Hartford and Stony Brook.
The men drew the No. 5 spot, with Vermont on top, followed by Stony Brook, Albany and Hartford.
America East remains a nine-team league with Massachusetts Lowell moving up from Division II to take the place of Boston University, which has moved on to the Patriot League.
The Wildcats slipped to a 12-18 overall record and 6-10 mark in the league last year after finishing at 16-14 and 9-7 in America East the year before.
Kelsey Hogan, a guard out of Nashua North, lost two seasons with knee injuries early in her career. She’s back for her sixth and final season.
“She does such an incredible job of leading the team, off the floor and on,” said Magarity.
The top two scorers from a year ago — Cari Reed (12.4 points a game) and Morgan Frame (10.8) — are gone. Hogan was next at 9.8 points and junior center Kaylee Kirkpatrick followed her at 7.6.
The Wildcats don’t have a lot of depth, but they do have size.
Magarity’s starting lineup for Saturday night will probably have junior Ariel Gaston and sophomore Elizabeth Belanger joining Hogan at guard and has Kirkpatrick and junior Corinne Coia up front.
Coia and Kirkpatrick are both listed at 6-foot-4. Coia is a transfer from the University of Rhode Island and sat out last year.
“Both Corinne and Kaylee do a real good job of getting up and down the floor,” Magarity said. “For as big as they are, they’re very mobile.”
Magarity figured her team would be picked around the fourth or fifth spot.
“It should be an interesting year in the league,” she said. “All the big guns lost some people. I think the league will be up for grabs.
After posting at least a dozen wins in four straight seasons, the Wildcats went 9-20 overall and 5-11 in America East last year.
“We took a real step back a year ago emotionally, competitively and respect-wise and we’ve got to get those things back,” said Bill Herrion, who is entering his ninth year at UNH.
He thinks he has a team that can do that and liked how it looked in scrimmages against Quinnipiac and Merrimack.
It’s a young team overall, but there are four seniors, led by Chris Pelcher, a 6-foot-10 center, and Patrick Konan, a 6-foot-6 forward.
“Both are capable of being all-conference players,” Herrion said.
Konan averaged 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds and Pelcher was at 9.1 and 6.3 last year.
Guards Jordon Bronner and Scott Morris are the other seniors.
Pelcher, Konan, Bronner and freshman Jacoby Armstrong, if he’s ready to go after dealing with concussion symptoms, will likely start on Saturday.
The fifth starter is apt to come from a group that includes Tommy McDonnell, a junior guard from Durham, and freshmen John Edwards and Daniel Dion.
There are five freshmen and Herrion expects them all to contribute this season.