New roles


Dylan Fearon

Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Dylan Fearon

It’s not often that a college basketball program loses four players to transfer and two more to graduation in the same offseason. Unfortunately for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team, this was the case last year. The Bobcats lost their best player, three point guards and their go-to defender from a team that went only 9-21. Head coach Tom Moore knew he had to rebuild his team, and more specifically his backcourt. He brought in six new faces, four from junior college and two from high school. With plenty of question marks surrounding the team, Moore says there is no depth chart. But who will fill all these roles with the Bobcats first game just two and a half weeks away?


The Role: Starting Point Guard

The Predecessor: Giovanni McLean

The Candidates: Phil Winston, Mikey Dixon, Reggie Oliver

The Skinny: This might be the most vital role available for the taking. Quinnipiac brings back three starters from a year ago (Daniel Harris, Abdulai Bundu and Chaise Daniels), but the person handling the ball the most will be the man in this role. The point guard position is arguably the most important position in basketball. You have to have great vision and be able to create a pace. In order to be an elite point guard, you have be able to see the floor, make the right play and even see the play before it unfolds. Tom Moore lost his best player, Giovanni McLean, after he transferred to Texas Tech. McLean was able to shoot the ball well, while also pushing the pace. With McLean transferring out, as well as guards Ayron Hutton (Indiana U of Pennsylvania) and Dimitri Floras (Southern New Hampshire), Moore is going to have to make his primary ball handler a newcomer, which won’t be easy. But Mikey Dixon enters his freshman campaign after a stellar high school career at the Samford School in Delaware. With his ability to shoot from range, handle the ball and attack the basket, Dixon will make an immediate impact for the Bobcats. Phil Winston is also coming off a very strong year at Utah State Eastern Junior College, where he averaged just over 15 points and six assists a game. Another option is Reggie Oliver who averaged over 18 points per contest for Howard College in Texas. Moore feels that all three can earn that starting job.

Moore’s Message: “There’s no depth chart. Phil Winston has been terrific. He’s been terrific as a one, he’s been a pleasant surprise. I think he’s going to be pretty good for us the way he’s playing right now because he really naturally wants to play faster, get more baskets and opportunities in transition. With Mikey Dixon, we’re trying to figure out where he’s going to best be served, like a one or two, and he’s willing to do both, same with Reggie. Reggie’s been really good as one and really good as a two, so I’m not going to sweat the slots, per se.


The Role: Defensive General

The Predecessor: James Ford, Jr.

The Candidates: Daniel Harris, Phil Winston

The Skinny: Quinnipiac’s achilles heel may not have been defense last year, but it is a topic of conversation heading into this season, since the Bobcats lose primary ball defender James Ford, Jr. to graduation. Ford was an excellent defender who wanted to play the opponents’ best guard or small forward on any given night. Without him, Moore needs a new go-to defender that he can rely on. The favorite to take that role has to be Daniel Harris. By way of Hillsborough Community College before last season to help out the Bobcats’ three-point shooting woes, Harris has been a bright spot on both sides of the court. Now the vocal leader for the guards, he improved on his defense as last season progressed, averaging two steals a game in Quinnipiac’s last eight contests. Winston has continued to impress coaches and could be a huge factor in the Bobcats’ successes this year.

Moore’s Message: “Phil has the best chance to take James Ford’s role as a defender. He has the best chance of being a stopper in terms of guarding the one’s and two’s, the Justin Robinson’s and the Marquis Wright’s, those guys. He (Ford) had I think the most competitive desire to keep one of those types of guys in front of him, so he (Winston) could evolve into that.


The Role: The Voices

The Predecessor: Giovanni McLean, James Ford, Jr.

The Candidates: Daniel Harris, Chaise Daniels

The Skinny: One of the toughest things in sports is replacing locker room leaders. Tom Moore only has four players on his roster that averaged double digit minutes last year to go with his six new faces. The biggest voices on the team from last year’s 9-21 season are gone, so who does Moore turn to, to be that voice in the locker room? It has to be the two most experienced players on the team, Harris and Daniels. Yes, it’s only Harris’ second year on the team, but he has matured quicker  than anyone could’ve expected. Daniels is the most experienced big man at the Division I level, and both he and Harris have played well on the court in the past. The question now becomes, can they be that off-court presence that Ike Azotam, Zaid Hearst and McLean were?

Dixon’s Dissection: “He (Harris) has taken me under his wing and in practice he’s just telling me to keep my head up and just always have a voice. Always be positive and always be loud and always work on running a team at the college level. He’s really helping me make that transition and he’s always into it whether he’s having a good day or not. He’s keeping guys engaged, so I just try to feed off that.”

The Bobcats have scrimmages against Hofstra and New Hampshire before kicking off their season with a home bout against Vermont on Nov. 12.