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They're Game
Men's basketball shoots high
by Paul E. Kandarian

Bill Herrion has a picture he likes. His late father, James, was the basketball coach at Sacred Heart High School in New York, and ran summer youth camps for kids. One camper, Lew Alcinder, later became Kareem Abdul-Jabar, NBA superstar.

"He's standing there, and I'm about 4, standing beside him," Herrion says of the photo. "I'm looking up at his kneecaps."

Things are still looking up for Herrion and for his UNH men's basketball team, as well. Heading into his second year as head coach, Herrion has pumped new life into a team that has foundered for a long time. Last season the team ended 12-17. That might not seem noteworthy, but consider this: It was better than the team had done in the previous 11 years, and it was the first time they made the semifinals of a conference tournament.

Herrion brings credentials with him, mostly from eight years as head coach at Drexel where his team had a 167-71 record, won three league championships and made three consecutive post-season NCAA tournament appearances.

At Drexel, Herrion coached Malik Rose, who went pro and won two NBA championships. Asked if he's coached any other NBA stars, Herrion smiles and says, "I'm trying to find one here."

If you have an image of a college hoop coach being a crazed human being, yelling and sweating and running up and down the sidelines during a game, you'd not be far off the mark in general--or in Herrion's case. "He starts out dry but at the end of the game, he's as drenched as we are," says junior forward Brandon Odom.

Players describe Herrion as intense but fair, a hard-driving and hard-driven man in search of getting the best he can out of his charges. "I've never played for a guy that intense," Odom says. "It's definitely what I need. Coach is tough, but he's hard on you for a reason."

A huge chunk of a college coach's time is spent recruiting. Herrion's new talent this year includes big men Sam Herrick, a 6-foot 11-inch, 250-pound all-state center from Duxbury, Mass., and Seth Price, a 6-foot 7-inch, 230-pound forward who in high school was twice named Ohio Capital Conference Player of the Year.

"This level is perfect for my recruiting style, for my personality, for the way I coach," Herrion says. "When I was at East Carolina and in Conference USA, you look at the Louisvilles, the Memphis's, the Marquettes. Those guys are not going for conference wins, they're going for nationals. The kinds of kids we recruited at Drexel fit my style. Those kids, they really want to get better, they want to be challenged. Those are the kinds of kids I want to recruit here. I think I work better with them."

Herrion says his goal at UNH is to get back to the NCAA tournament. "I want to do that here. I want to do something here that's never been done before."

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