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Wildcats to honor 1994-95 men's basketball team

UNH Insider

September 25. 2018 10:57PM

DURHAM — They smashed the program record for wins and fans jammed Lundholm Gymnasium game after game to share in all the fun.

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Matt Alosa and Scott Drapeau crossed the state from the Concord area and led the University of New Hampshire men’s basketball team to never-before-attained heights.

On Friday, current coach Bill Herrion and his crew will honor the 1994-95 Wildcat team at UNH’s annual Gerry Friel Memorial Golf Tournament at the Links at Outlook in South Berwick, Maine.

“I don’t know if the 1994-95 team ever got its just due and recognition for how good they really were,” Herrion said. “I think it’s long overdue to honor them. They really deserve to be honored.”

Herrion knew the 1994-95 team well. He was the head coach at Drexel, where he coached future NBA player Malik Rose and developed his team into a powerhouse and North Atlantic Conference rival of New Hampshire.

“As an opposing coach, I knew how good that basketball team was,” Herrion said. “They got beat in the conference semifinal game, but it was a good enough team to win the league championship.”

Late that season, Drexel came to Durham for a game that was going to go a long way toward determining what team was going to win the top seed — and thus a homecourt advantage — for the conference tournament.

“It was a real big game,” Herrion said. “I remember the teams were up in the gym shooting and I came up 45 minutes before the game and the place was packed to the rafters. Absolutely packed. You couldn’t put another person in Lundholm. I always remember that game from an enthusiasm standpoint.”

Drapeau out of Merrimack Valley High School and Alosa out of Pembroke Academy were the driving forces behind the success and enthusiasm.

They were the two top scorers in the league and were surrounded by a talented supporting cast that included fellow in-staters such as Eric Montanari of Hudson, Ryan Gatchell of Epping and Matt Smith of Concord, along with Doug Wilson, Ed Eusebio and Matt Acres — and the Wildcats smashed the school record for wins with 19.

Drapeau averaged 23.1 points a game and Alosa 22.3. Only one other pair of teammates in the country scored more points per game that season.

Both players had transferred back to UNH: Drapeau from UMass and Alosa from Providence College and played two years in Durham, but they had only that 1994-95 season together.

“They were two big-time scorers and both were very, very hard to guard,” Herrion said. “If they were here four years, they both would have scored 2,000 points. That’s how good of careers they had. Drapeau was an inside out big guy. He was big enough and physical enough and athletic enough to hurt you around the basket and he was talented and skilled enough to make threes. . . . Matt had deep, deep range with his three and was very, very good with the ball.”

Montanari was the third player to average in double figures at 11.9 points per game.

“I thought he was one of the biggest keys to the team,” Herrion said. “He was a skilled four-man and a very smart player, a real glue guy.”

Three times that season the team played to sellout crowds of 3,250 in Lundholm and the Wildcats averaged 2,656 for home games.

They lost that game to Herrion and Drexel and finished one game back in second place in the league. They fell in the semifinals and finished 19-9 for the season.

Herrion and Co. have honored former Wildcats in recent years at their golf tournament — Al McClain and Billy Pappas the first year and Wayne Morrison and Robin Dixon, then Keith Dickson and Danny Nolan the last two years.

Herrion is excited about honoring one of the greatest teams in program history this year and members of the team — including assistant coaches Whit Lesure and Paul Faison — are coming from around the country for the occasion.