Preview: The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team takes on in-state foe Hartford

By: Ryan Chichester

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team, seeking its first win streak of the season, take the momentum of Monday’s thrilling victory over Columbia into the state capital to meet Hartford on Thursday night.

Baker Dunleavy would love an encore performance of the Bobcats’ win over the Lions, specifically on the offensive end. His team shot 50 percent from beyond the arc and rode the success of their two rising freshmen, Rich Kelly and Jacob Rigoni.

While the Bobcats look to start a streak tonight, the Hawks will be looking to end one of their own. Hartford has dropped four straight, and would need to beat Quinnipiac if they want a chance to finish above .500 on their current three-game home stand.

Here’s what to keep an eye on when the two teams meet at Chase Arena later this evening:

Offensive Outburst, Part II?

This was one of the headlines in Monday night’s recap, and for good reason. Five different Bobcats finished in double figures as the team eclipsed its season-high in points scored with over four minutes remaining in the game. The Bobcats pounced on a defense that has struggled to contain teams all season, and they have an opportunity for a sequel when they face Hartford’s defense.

The Hawks have given up at least 72 points in seven of their nine games this season, and gave up over 85 points three times already. Opponents are shooting 46.4 percent from the field against the Hawks, which ranks 277th in the nation. They also allow opponents to shoot over 37 percent from three, which could spell disaster if the Bobcats carry their shooting stroke over from Monday night.

The Bobcats enjoyed their time against Hartford last season, dropping 99 points on the Hawks in a home rout. This is a completely different team from last season, but judging by their early season struggles, Hartford’s defense hasn’t changed much, which is good news for the Bobcats.

Keep an eye on Carroll

The Bobcat offense should face little resistance, but they need to account for Hartford forward John Carroll on the defensive end. The junior from Ireland is averaging a team-high 18 points per game, fourth best in the America East Conference. Carroll, 6′ 8”, is lethal in the paint and around the rim, waiting for high-percentage shots which is reflected by his 49 percent field goal percentage.

Carroll is tough to stop when he finds is shot, but he can be disrupted when making his way towards the rim. He has coughed the ball up 26 times this season, second most in the America East. The Bobcats defense will need to show active hands and keep Carroll uncomfortable and away from the rim, without getting overly aggressive and into foul trouble.

Stay awhile, Chaise

Speaking of foul trouble, senior Chaise Daniels needs to stay disciplined on defense tonight. Daniels has fouled out in two straight games before living to see the final whistle against Columbia, but that was due to an extended stay on the bench with three early fouls.

Daniels will likely spend a of time guarding Carroll, and given Carroll’s 65 percent shooting clip from the free throw line, Daniels might be tempted to be overly physical and force Carroll to earn it at the stripe. He will have to walk a fine line to stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court. Should Daniels rack up a few early fouls, Abdulai Bundu and Alain Chigha will need to be ready for some important defensive minutes.

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