Runnin’ the Point: Defense wins games

By on January 23, 2018

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
“Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”

But for Quinnipiac men’s basketball, the fact of the matter is that defense wins games, and championships are still to come.

With a 76-69 win over Siena on Sunday, the Bobcats improved to a solid 4-4 in MAAC play and 7-13 overall.

When asked what he focused on at practice leading up to this matchup, Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy was clear.

“Definitely defense. Nothing specific to Siena, it’s just the end of the floor where we have to make strides,” Dunleavy said. “I think in basketball, it’s not like football, both ends are connected. You have the same players playing offense and defense, so if you get stops, you’re going to have better offensive looks. I think a big part of us having our best offensive night was how well we played defensively.”

Quinnipiac is 5-4 this season when they allow 77 points or less, but just 2-9 when they give up more than 77.

Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac Athletics
That number, 77, has been a key for Quinnipiac this season. For the year, the Bobcats are giving up an average of 77.0 points per game. If they are above that number, they generally lose. If they are below that number, they have chances to win.

“Every game we have a period where we’re locked in defensively, but for whatever reason we just relax a little bit,” Dunleavy said after the Siena game. “I think this is the best game we’ve had in terms of concentrating for 40 minutes on that end of the floor. I’m going to let our guys know that going forward every day that’s what we’ve got to do in practice.”

Part of being locked in defensively involves taking care of the ball on the offensive end, something that the Bobcats have been erratic with throughout the season. The Siena game was a prime example. In the first half, Quinnipiac coughed the ball up 11 times, where in the second half they had just three giveaways.

“(Turnovers) are a weakness for us,” Dunleavy said. “We’ve just been inconsistent with that part of the game. We’ve got to come into games going forward and not let that happen.”

Part of the turnover battle involves freshman point guard Rich Kelly, who has been thrust into a major role from the get-go. When Kelly turns the ball over four or more times, the Bobcats are just 1-4. If he has three turnovers or less they are 6-9.

“[Kelly] was a catalyst for us (against Siena),” Dunleavy said. “He showed great poise and confidence. I think he’s at his best when he’s aggressive and he makes guys better. He’s a talented offensive player who is developing in other areas.”

Taking care of the ball and playing solid team defense are the keys to success for the Bobcats, and if they keep it up they might find themselves rising up the MAAC standings.

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