UNH men’s basketball: Scoring depth highlights Wildcats’ fast start in 2021

Cameron Beall

WILDCATS 70, CRUSADERS 55

WORCESTER, MASS. – It’s fitting that University of New Hampshire (UNH) head coach Bill Herrion’s 200th career victory was highlighted by his favorite feature of this year’s Wildcats: depth. Saturday night in Worcester the Wildcats (3-2, 0-0) continued their promising start with a 70-55 win over the Holy Cross Crusaders (2-5, 0-0) with five different players scoring in double figures. 

Senior forward Jayden Martinez notched his fourth 20-point performance on the young season at Holy Cross and was named the America East Player of the Week. The emergence of the star forward, however, has led to his supporting cast finding more opportunities and making them even tougher to prepare for as conference play approaches at the turn of the year. 

Senior Nick Guadarrama specifically has had to broaden his skillset with Martinez’ performance to this point. Previously, Guadarrama had been seen as the team’s top option, but has been used much more as a facilitator this season. He still ranks second in scoring averaging 11.8 points per game while also being second in assists at 3.2. 

Herrion has noted that Guadarrama can be viewed as a point guard at times given the amount of time that he has the ball in his hands. He even went on to say that “Guadarrama is as good of a passing big man that I’ve seen in years.” Martinez commended his fellow Preseason All-Conference selection and the versatility he brings to the floor. 

“I love playing with Nick [Guadarrama],” said Martinez. “He really does everything for the team.” 

Along with Guadarrama – who stands 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds – playing as a de facto point guard at times, Herrion has the luxury three different guards coming off the bench that can be used as legitimate scoring options on any given night. Sophomores Blondeau Tchoukuiegno and Nick Johnson assume the two starting guard positions and average a combined 17.6 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Behind the starting tandem is senior Qon Murphy, graduate student Josh Hopkins and sophomore Marco Foster. 

Foster was a part of the bunch that tallied double figures at Holy Cross adding 11 points in what was his best game in a Wildcat uniform. He shot 50% from the field and 3-of-5 from deep. He is also now one of four players who are shooting upwards of 40% from 3-point range on the season. Foster leads the team at 50% followed by Martinez at 45%, Murphy at 44% and Hopkins at 40%.  

Improved 3-point shooting was an emphasis for Herrion during the offseason. He hasn’t quite seen the same production in that area from players he’d normally expect like grad student Chris Lester, junior Sloan Seymour or Guadarrama; but his guards off the bench have proved more than capable to this point. 

The Wildcats have six more games until their conference schedule gets underway on Jan. 2. Next up for them will be Central Connecticut State (1-6, 0-0) at home this Saturday at 4 p.m. 

Photo courtesy of China Wong