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Quinnipiac vs. Drexel preview

Photo Courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Ryan Chichester

Eleven days have flown by and the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team is set to resume its season on Monday night at Drexel after an extended hiatus for final exams. With the team officially on winter break from the classroom, it’s time to focus on the hardwood and prepare for conference play next week. First, the Bobcats will look to finish their five-game road stretch with a winning record, which would take winning these next two games, starting with the Dragons on Monday.

Drexel has already had a chance to shrug off the rust of exam week after playing at Temple on Saturday. The Dragons turned a 13-point deficit into a narrow three-point margin on the final possession, but Kurk Lee’s triple at the buzzer fell short, and the Dragons fell to 5-6 on the season. They will look to get back to .500 against the Bobcats in their first home game in over two weeks.

The Dragons have won the last three meetings against the Bobcats, including a 91-74 win in Hamden last season. The two teams don’t have a common opponent yet this season, but the Dragons were with the Bobcats in Lynchburg earlier in the season for the Paradise Jam. The Dragons went 1-2 on the weekend, beating Houston before dropping the last two games to Mercer and Drake.

Drexel does have a game against a MAAC opponent on their current resume, beating Rider 89-77 at home.

Here’s what to watch for when the Bobcats tip off in the City of Brotherly Love:

Life without Chaise

Monday night will be the first game of the post-Chaise Daniels era for the Bobcats, after the team announced the senior and Preseason All-MAAC third team selection was on a “personal leave.” Despite his foul troubles and lack of ball movement when receiving the ball in the high post, Daniels still leaves behind a lot of scoring from the forward position, and Baker Dunleavy will need one of his bigs to step up.

The Dragons are very efficient on the offensive glass, and owned a 43-32 rebounding advantage against Temple on Saturday. The Dragons rank third in the Colonial Athletic Association in offensive rebounds, and the Bobcats will need Abdulai Bundu and Alain Chigha to find a body and close out when a Dragons’ shot goes up.

The Bobcats rank third in defensive rebounding in the MAAC so far this season, but that takes a big hit with the absence on Daniels, who ranked third on the team with 4.6 rebounds per game. Bundu and Cameron Young are the rebounding leaders for the Bobcats and will have to be active on the glass to eliminate second chances for the Dragons.

Another offensive opportunity

This will be the Bobcats’ third straight game against a struggling defense, now facing a Dragons team that allows over 75 points per game, after finishing last in the CAA in scoring defense last season. The Bobcats pounced on a weak Columbia defense to secure their first road win of the season, but shot just 23 percent from three in their loss against another weak Hartford defense. Rust could be a factor for the Bobcats in their first game in 11 days, but shooting against a softer defense like the Dragons could help get back into the rhythm quickly.

The Bobcats will have to overcome their own shooting woes if they are to get off to a hot start on Monday. Their 41-percent field goal percentage is last in the MAAC, and have lost their most efficient scorer in Daniels, who led the team with a 53-percent field goal percentage. Some of the Bobcats’ streakier shooters like Isaiah Washington will have to step up, and Andrew Robinson will have to find some more open looks and not force shots like he did in the loss against Hartford.

Slowing down the Dragons

Drexel may have their holes on defense, but they have little problem scoring with a balanced attack led by Tramaine Isabell, a transfer from Missouri who is averaging over 19 points per game. Isabell has his worst performance of the season on Saturday, shooting 2-for-12 and finishing with six points, but still leads all Drexel scorers this season.

If Isabell’s shooting slump bleeds over into Monday night, the Dragons still have plenty of firepower on the offensive end. Isabell is one of five Dragons averaging double figures on the season. The majority of the Dragons’ attack comes from inside, as they rank last in the CAA in three-point percentage. Again, with no Daniels wandering in the paint, Bundu and Chigha will have to step up, but the perimeter defense can give the Drexel shooters a little cushion around the arc.

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