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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: New Hampshire Wildcats

This is the first of at least four games against teams named “Wildcats” this season for the Golden Eagles.

Pregnant Puma
That’s a wild cat alright
Photo by: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Name: University of New Hampshire

Location: Durham, New Hampshire

Yeah, I can barely keep Vermont and New Hampshire straight, that’s not helpful. New Hampshire is the one next to Maine, the one that’s fatter on the bottom than on the top. Durham is in the southeast corner, a little more than an hour’s drive from Boston.

Founded: 1866 as the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. That names (and apparently the acronym NHCAMA) would stick until 1923 when it was changed to University of New Hampshire by way of a bill passed and signed by the governor.

Enrollment: 11,747 undergraduate students, nearly 2,600 grad students.

I don’t know what to do with this information: This is taken literally from the UNH campus library’s page on history and tradition on campus. I present it to you without comment, because I am unable to find any further information.

In 1911, the college received a gift of an eight-acre plot of land in Lee, NH, known as Davis Park, from Thomas J. Davis in memory of his parents. The gift had two purposes. The first was to provide the college with a forestry laboratory. In addition to the chestnut, pine, catalpa, and basswood already planted on the parcel, the forestry department undertook to plant conifers in a clear area.

The second purpose of the gift was for an annual nutting party, to be known as Davis Park Day, which would be held each October during the lifetime of the trees that Davis had planted. Since such trees usually live for one or two centuries, the memorial park was one of a lasting endurance, but not so the nutting party. Unfortunately, nutting parties had quite gone out of fashion by the time the bequest was accepted, so the college lost, before it ever gained, this pleasant custom.

Sorry, Ms. Jackson, I am four eels: In 1924, UNH needed to clear a pipe that ran from campus to the local reservoir that had become blocked. They used back pressure to accomplish the task and successfully cleared the blockage….. in the form of what is described as “three bushels of lamprey eels” that apparently had easily swam through the mesh screen at a very young age.

Luckily, this game is in Milwaukee: UNH fans love to support their hockey team on campus…. Right up to a very interesting tradition. Apparently, whenever New Hampshire scores their first goal of the game, someone — it’s unclear who is responsible here — throws a fish on to the ice. This is apparently in reference to “fishing the puck out of the net” after a goal.

Nickname: Wildcats

Why “Wildcats”? The ever popular student population vote, which took place in 1926.

Who’s A Good Kitty: They have a wildcat statue on campus, and since it was installed in 2006, it’s become a tradition to Pat The Cat at the start of your time on campus.

Fun With Live Wildcats: UNH has repeatedly had live wildcat mascots in their history. The first one died, the second one disappeared, the fourth one died after just a week. All this happened between 1927 and 1940, and only a guy in a suit has been the UNH mascot since. They currently have two costumed mascots: Wild E. Cat and Gnarlz. I will let you guess which one looks more EXTREME.

Notable Alumni: Ralph Cox, the last guy cut from the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team; Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Bruce; actor Michael Ontkean, best known for his role as Ned Braden in Slap Shot; Tansu Ciller, the first female prime minister of Turkey; UCLA head football coach Chip Kelly; author John Irving, perhaps best known for The World According To Garp or The Cider House Rules; Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Langway; actor Mike O’Malley; Boston Bruins play-by-play guy Jack Edwards; television producer Marcy Casey; Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day; and finally, Michael Kelly, the first journalist killed in the Iraq War.

Last Season: 10-9 overall, 9-6 in America East play.

Final 2020-21 KenPom.com Ranking: 268

Final 2020-21 T-Rank Ranking: #282

This Season: 1-0 with a 98-53 victory over St. Joseph’s of Maine, a Division 3 team.

Current 2021-22 KenPom.com Ranking: #225

Current 2021-22 T-Rank Ranking: #239

Returning Stats Leaders

Points: Nick Guadarrama, 14.0 ppg
Rebounds: Jayden Martinez, 8.5 rpg
Assists: Blondeau Tchoukuiengo, 3.3 apg

Current Stats Leaders

Points: Jayden Martinez, 20.0 ppg
Rebounds: Jayden Martinez, 10.0 rpg
Assists: Nick Guadarrama, 4.0 apg

Bigs? The tallest guy on the roster is Tayler Mattos, a 6’11” center from New London in New Hampshire. He averaged 4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last year in nearly 15 minutes a night. He did not play at all against St. Joseph’s. Sloan Seymour (6’9”, 225 pounds) is a junior from Albany who is joining the team this year after stints at Siena and George Washington. He was more successful (9.1 points) as a freshman with the Saints than he was (4.3 points) in 12 games at GW. He played 25 minutes off the bench and scored 10 points to go with five rebounds and two assists in their opener.

I think Jayden Martinez (6’7”, 215 pounds) and Chris Lester (6’7”, 230 pounds) qualify more as Tall Guy than Big Guy.

Shooters? Generally speaking, no. The Wildcats shot just 31.9% from long range last season, but they largely speaking new they shouldn’t be doing that very much. With that said, Josh Hopkins hit 44% of his attempts in very limited playing time last season, while Jayden Martinez connected on 42% of his team high 90 attempts. Nick Guadarrama was a passable shooter last year at 33.8%, same for Nick Johnson at 33.3%.

Last time out, UNH shot just 3-for-16 from long range with Blondeau Tchoukuiegno going 1-for-3 and Sloan Seymour going 2-for-5.

Head Coach: Bill Herrion, in his 31st season of Division 1 coaching and 17th year at New Hampshire. FUN FACT: Bill Herrion was the guy coaching those East Carolina teams that beat Dwyane Wade’s Marquette teams in two consecutive seasons.

What To Watch For: Bill Herrion’s teams at UNH have, generally speaking, not been very good. There’s a whole lot of single digit victory seasons in there. With that in mind, you can’t be very surprised to find out that, again generally speaking, they don’t ever do much very well on offense. The one thing that they are usually pretty good at is not creating their own problems with turnovers. Last year, the Wildcats ranked #50 in the country in offensive turnover rate, and they haven’t had a turnover percentage north of 19% in any of the last seven seasons. Combine that with Shaka Smart’s interest in creating deflections and thus turning defense into offense, and we have a very interesting potential battle going on there.

Defense is a different issue. Over the last half-decade or so, Bill Herrion has apparently committed himself and his teams to the goal of never giving up a second chance shot. They have been in the top 10 in the country in defensive rebounding rate in six of the past seven seasons according to KenPom.com and the lone miss was when they were only #31 in the country. The Wildcats actually ranked #1, #2, or #3 in the country for four straight seasons between 2016 and 2018. That certainly seems to be an emphasis again as St. Joseph’s only had five offensive rebounds all night for a rate of just 14%.

All-Time Series: Marquette leads 1-0. The lone meeting happened in Milwaukee on November 21, 2013, and MU got 16 points each from Chris Otule and Todd Mayo to get the 58-53 victory. FUN FACT: Marquette led by 14 with just under nine minutes left!