By Sam Donnelly, Staff Writer
The UNH men’s basketball team played their annual Blue-White game Saturday at 12 p.m. in Lundholm gym. The Blue team came out on top 54-43 after the shortened scrimmage. Freshman forward Tanner Leissner led all scorers with 21 points. Sophomore Jaleen Smith led the White team with 10 points and junior guard Daniel Dion chipped in with 11 points for Blue.
The scrimmage consisted of two 10-minute quarters, followed by an eight-minute quarter, and a five-minute quarter. Both the assistant coaches coached teams, while head coach Bill Herrion watched it all from the sideline. Keon Burns, Dion, Joe Bramanti, Ronnel Jordan, Leissner, and Iba Camara were designated to the Blue team while Smith, Frank Okeke, John Edwards, Tommy McConnell, and William Gabriel suited up for the White.
The game was tied at 11 when Smith drove to the basketball for a layup. Leissner responded with a jumper from the elbow to give the Blue team the lead, and they never surrendered it. The first quarter ended with a score of 19-11. The Blue finished the quarter with an 8-0 run.
The White cut the lead to two points in the second quarter before Dion buried a deep 3-pointer to end the quarter 32-27.
“I thought defensively both teams were pretty good,” Herrion said. “We are a primarily defensive team. We need to improve on our offensive transition.”
The third quarter was more Leissner, scoring eight points in the third quarter alone and helping to push the Blue team’s lead to game-high 10 points.
“He’s has been like that in practice,” Herrion said. “He has a real nose for the ball and has the chance to be a really good player.”
The fourth quarter became a defensive battle, neither team wanting to concede anything. Both teams picked up the defensive pressure and caused several turnovers, something Herrion wasn’t happy with.
“We can’t turn the ball over as much as we did today,” Herrion said. “We need to tighten up our execution.”
Junior guard Ronnel Jordan scored six points in the fourth quarter for the Blue and all but sealed the game with a wide-open dunk in transition. The final score stood at 54-43 and overall Herrion was content with the outcome.
“It was a chance for our guys to get away from practice type stuff,” Herrion said. “The game was competitive and, as a coach, you like the see that, even when there’s a lack of subs.”
The Wildcats have been practicing for three weeks now, and have another three weeks to prepare for the season opener. Herrion disclosed that the Wildcats would have a closed NCAA scrimmage against an unnamed school sometime in the next week or so.
UNH played a series of different defenses. Sometimes it would be man to man in the half court, while other times they would immediately jump into a full court press. The speed at which the Wildcats played on defense is something Herrion hopes will become a trend.
“I want our identity to be a team that really defends,” Herrion said. “We want to control the pace, and that starts with our intensity on defense.”
The Wildcats were without junior forward Logan Mortenson, senior guard Matt Miller, and sophomore Jacoby Armstrong due to injury. Each is expected to return by the beginning of the season.
UNH will take the court for its first game at Boston College on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Corte Forum.