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October 07. 2012 9:07PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Football, hockey coaching milestones indicators of excellence

DURHAM -- SEAN McDONNELL got his.

Dick Umile takes aim at his big number this coming weekend.

October stands to be a milestone month for the good buddies, former outstanding University of New Hampshire athletes and now head coaches of the school’s two most high-profile programs.

McDonnell earned victory No. 100 as the boss of the Wildcat football team in Saturday’s 44-21 triumph at Georgia State in Atlanta.

“It’s incredible what he’s done with that program,” Umile said. “He’s lost three or four offensive coordinators since he’s been there and they just keep winning games and scoring points. He’s a fierce, fierce competitor. I’d play for the guy in half a heartbeat. He’s an incredible motivator and he wears it on his sleeve. His players know it and that’s why they play hard for him. I’d like to play for him.”

McDonnell’s overall record improved to 100-64 with the win.

The breakdown of his career is especially impressive.

McDonnell took over for Bill Bowes for the 1999 season and in his first five years the Wildcats were 23-33.

In the eight-and-a-half seasons since, they have gone 77-31.

The Wildcats have qualified for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision tournament each of the last eight seasons, which is the longest such streak in the nation, and are hoping to run the mark to nine.

Ranked No. 14 in the country last week, UNH is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association and has Richmond, also 4-2 and 2-1, coming to Cowell Stadium for a key league game and Homecoming on Saturday.

“They’re a real good, big, strong, physical team,” McDonnell said on Sunday afternoon. “They’ve played everybody tough and played great against Old Dominion and should have won that game. They beat a real good Villanova team (28-17 on Saturday). We’re back in the CAA big-time this weekend.”

Umile has 499 wins as men’s hockey coach and gets his first shot at No. 500 in a home game against St. Cloud State on Friday night at 7:30. The teams play again on Saturday night at 7.

His Wildcats are coming off a rare losing season — only their second in his 22 years — and had a streak of 10 straight NCAA tournament appearances snapped last winter.

Umile looks to become the sixth active Division I coach with 500 wins.

With a record of 499-264-87, he has the seventh-best winning percentage of active coaches at .638.

McDonnell gets upset with the heat Umile takes from some fans and observers at times.

“I listen, I see and I read some of the things that have been written and said,” McDonnell said. These people are out of their mind because they know half the story most of the time. . . . Last year killed Dickie. I just wait for him to get back on the horse and ride again, because they’re a good hockey program.”

______


BILL HERRION and his men’s basketball team had a productive weekend a week ago.

The Wildcats had a couple of recruits in for official visits and both ended up making verbal commitments to accept scholarships.

John Edwards, a 6-foot-6 and 205-pound forward from North Carolina and Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, and Dan Jackson, a 6-foot and 165-pound point guard from Vista Ridge High School just outside Austin, Texas, will sign their national letters of intent to accept the scholarships during next month’s signing period.

Brewster coach Jason Smith said Edwards has drawn comparisons to Billy Collins, the former standout at Bishop Brady in Concord. Collin went on to play at Rutgers and then Boston University.

“He has the ability to guard multiple positions, probably three positions in America East,” Smith said. “He’s real athletic. His shot is inconsistent at this point, but he’s real tough and he can guard. He’s definitely a good fit for them. He’ll fit in well with Billy’s team.”

Edwards was the eighth man last year on a Brewster team that had six players ranked in the Top 100 in the nation and went 33-1 and won the national prep school championship.

Furman, Wofford, Louisiana Tech and Maine were among the schools that were interested in him.

“Billy and his staff came in and evaluated him and saw his toughness and his ability to defend and they moved quickly,” Smith said.

Jackson said he loved the UNH campus and the coaching staff and the way the players on the team got along.

“I definitely need to get a little bit stronger and gain a little weight,” Jackson said from home on Sunday. “They have some pretty big guards.”

Northeastern, Hartford and Bryant were among the other schools recruiting Jackson.

“He’s a complete point guard,” said Derek Dion, Jackson’s father and also his AAU coach. “He’s a matchup problem because of his quickness and because he has a real nice outside shot. You can’t play off him and he also has real good court vision.”

Jackson averaged 16 points and 8 assists with his AAU team during the summer.

______


THE MEN’S soccer team, 4-4-3 overall and 0-1-1 in America East, is at Hartford on Wednesday night and plays Albany at home on Sunday ...

The women’s hockey team opened the season with wins at Syracuse, 4-3, on Friday night and at Colgate, 4-1, on Saturday. The Wildcats are off until a game against Vermont at home next Tuesday, Oct. 16 ...

The volleyball team ran its unbeaten streak to seven and improved to 12-8 overall and 4-0 in America East with Friday night’s 3-1 win over Stony Brook. The Wildcats play at Albany on Friday and Hartford on Saturday.

alessels@unionleader.com

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