Young talent leads Quinnipiac against Marist in MAAC clash


Chris Dacey

Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By Chris Dacey

MAAC play is under way for the men’s basketball team and the Bobcats are 0-1 with a 91-72 loss to Monmouth on Lender Court. That being said, however, Quinnipiac has a quick turnaround as the Marist Red Foxes come to town today for another Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game.

This game is a big one for the Bobcats and head coach Tom Moore. With a loss, the Bobcats will fall to 1-6 overall, 0-2 in the MAAC and 0-4 at home. And if Quinnipiac plays the way it did in the second half against Monmouth, it will be a long Sunday afternoon for the Bobcats.

The one thing the Bobcats have going for them right now is that Marist is like Monmouth. These two teams run a completely different style of offense. Marist runs a Princeton type offense that involves back door cuts and many dribble hand-offs.

“Well it is entirely different preparation than Monmouth because Marist is extremely unique in how they run their offense,” Moore said.

And for a team that has struggled on defense this year, it will be tough for a young Bobcat backcourt to adjust to this offense that is unique to the MAAC.

Similar to Monmouth, the Marist backcourt could cause so problems for the Bobcats. Redshirt senior Khalid Hart is averaging 19.5 points per game in this Marist offense. Hart is another guard that can shoot the three and the Bobcats as of late have been letting up many transition threes especially against Monmouth.

“They have great rhythm and tempo to their offense,” Moore said. “It is not something that MAAC teams guard on a regular basis.”

With this new look backcourt for the Bobcats, Marist has a slight advantage going into the game but Moore does believe his team can adjust to the offensive style of the Red Foxes.

“When we are doing our zone defense, we need to make sure we find and locate the shooters,” freshman Mikey Dixon said.

The zone defense is something that Quinnipiac is testing out this season. In almost every game, the Bobcats have used a zone defense throughout different periods in the games. So far the results have been mixed. Monmouth was able to take advantage of the zone defense in the game on Dec. 1 with the shooters the team has.

The zone defense will be used on Sunday in certain situations. Moore doesn’t know when but he believes it gives the team a different look in the game on the defensive side of the ball.

“The defense I use is usually based on flow or what I am thinking during that time,” Moore said.

Moore believes that his team guards the floor better with the zone and the time his team gets itself into trouble is during the defensive transition. During the Monmouth game the Hawks scored 17 fast break points.

Junior Chaise Daniels, who gathered a double-double against Monmouth with 13 points and 10 rebounds, knows this team still has to be aggressive while making sure they have someone getting back to stop the break.

“We have to make sure we have at least one guy get back and then the rest of the guys bust their butts back on defense,” Daniels said. “If we don’t get the rebound we are find with that, we just have to get back and worry about defense.”

Offensively, Quinnipiac has had some bright spots in the line-up but, the team has not had a complete game offensively. Junior Reggie Oliver was limited on Thursday due to an illness and the Bobcats sure did miss his shot as they shot 36 percent from the floor including 29 percent from three.

Dixon, who scored a team high 18 points against Monmouth, knows that it is still early in the season and there is still much more work to do.

“When I started playing more minutes I got into it more and I felt more comfortable,” Dixon said. “I am very excited for the next conference game tomorrow.”

Fellow freshman Pete Kiss, who has scored in the double digits in the past four games, also played 32 out of the 40 minutes in the game. Kiss who has arguable been the best offensive player this year for the Bobcats and he has been coming off the bench.

“For them (Kiss and Dixon) to be thrown into the situations they have been in already is a blessing and a curse for us,” Moore said.

The blessing is the two freshman maturing early in their first Division I season. Moore believes they have had great experiences in many different situations in the team’s games so far and Kiss and Dixon are taking in many lessons while playing early in their careers that they could not learn by sitting the bench.

As for the curse, Moore has to live with some young mistakes the players will make. These two are talented but the transition into the Division I game is not easy. They are playing older, bigger and stronger opponents and that will take some getting used to. Kiss learned this the hard way as Monmouth’s Micah Seaborn took advantage of this inexperience during the game with steals that led to buckets.

“I am really excited every day to get in the gym with those guys, practice and games,” said Moore.

No doubt Kiss and Dixon will be called upon for their services for Sunday against Marist. There are many things that these two and the team will need to improve for Sunday and down the stretch but, Daniels knows the main goal in mind for Sunday’s contest.

“We are just looking to get a win, we watched film and we know what we did wrong so we know what we need to do to play a full 40 minutes.”