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Quinnipiac men’s hoops set to start season Friday
Fifth-place preseason ranking does not faze head coach Tom Moore
After two 20-win seasons and two berths in national tournaments, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team is set to start its season on Friday against Fairfield at the Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, Conn.
The Bobcats were recently selected to finish fifth in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches poll. Head coach Tom Moore said the ranking is accurate now, but that they will continue to compete for the NEC title.
“I think that’s about where we should be picked if you look at all the other teams in the league and the experience they bring back,” Moore said. “Obviously our job is to not finish fifth — it’s to finish first. … I think we should be competing for the championship every year. We have the last two years and our task is to threaten for it again this year.”
The Bobcats enter the season with eight freshmen, two transfers and just five returners. For Friday’s game it is still unknown whether or not Ike Azotam and James Johnson, who are facing university sanctions for an off-the-court incident, will be active.
Junior transfer Garvey Young is expected to miss the first two games with a shoulder injury, Moore said.
“We have some obstacles because we’re green and not as old as I would like, but we will overcome that and we hope to be there in March playing in the last weekend hopefully representing Quinnipiac in the championship game.”
With the amount of uncertainty surrounding the opening game, it is likely the freshmen will see a large amount of time, but based off practices, Moore likes what he is seeing so far out of them.
“I think they’ve picked up the system very well,” Moore said. “Overall they’ve done a terrific job. At listening, at being correctable in terms of you tell them something one time they really try and fix it the next time, and coming in every day with a really great mindset.”
While Moore said some adjustments still need to be made, the players feel the chemistry is beginning to blend.
“I think the chemistry is definitely getting better,” junior point guard Dave Johnson said. “We’re starting to find each other’s spots on the court. I think prior to the first week we didn’t really know each other that well, but we’ve definitely started to come together pretty well.”
Over the past two seasons, Bobcat fans have also gotten used to seeing the team jump out and put points on the board early with offensive lightning rods such as James Feldeine, Deontay Twyman and Justin Rutty on the court. But Moore expects a more defensive team this season that will have to work to score.
“I think we’ll struggle to score a little bit early more so than the last two teams,” Moore said. “We were able to get a lot of easy baskets. I think this year’s team won’t get a lot of easy baskets, I think we’re going to have to be a little more precise and work a little harder. I think defensively we should be just as strong.”
Moore motivated the Bobcats last season by posting the 52-50 score of the the 2010 NEC Championship game in the locker room. The Bobcats made the National Invitation Tournament in 2010 and the CollegeInsider.com Tournament last season.
This year he is planning on using the preseason ranking as a motivating factor.
“I’m hopeful that this year’s team has a little more of a hunger and an edge to it, and an attitude they want to show people; and that fifth place preseason ranking will be thrown in their face throughout the year,” Moore said.