Quinnipiac Battling Injuries to Finish Line

For head coach Tom Moore, his seventh season may be his best job yet with the Bobcats.

Prior to the final two games this regular season, Quinnipiac has a chance to finish as high as a tie for first. The Bobcats control their own destiny, with two games against Siena and Marist and could tie for the league title if Iona loses twice. Entering the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for the first time this season, they have a chance for their best finish in a conference standings since finishing second in the Northeast conference during the 2010-11 season.

As early as last January, Moore said he could sense that his young core was beginning to turn the corner. Senior Ike Azotam has taken the next step, while Ousmane Drame and Zaid Hearst have been quick to follow as well.

“I think the turn for this group, where they figured out how to win and develop some swagger for lack of a better term, started a year ago,” Moore said. “We’ve been much more poised every game this year. We haven’t been great every time out, but we’ve played like an older team most nights.”

Saint Francis (PA) transfer Umar Shannon has been a key piece for Tom Moore’s Bobcats this season.

Since January of last year, the Bobcats have compiled a 30-17 record, with 25 of those wins in conference play over the NEC and MAAC.

The group added graduate transfer from Saint Francis (PA) Umar Shannon and he has been the team’s third-leading scorer with 14.7 points per game. Moore said that “adding an experienced talented player” like Shannon aided the Bobcats rise in MAAC play. Shannon, returned from a two-game absence due to a concussion, and delivered the crucial game-winner at Niagara on Saturday.

However, the path toward the second-best record in MAAC play entering the final weekend has not been without difficulties. The Bobcats lost freshman Kasim Chandler for almost the entire month of February with a broken toe. Moore said that the freshman is scheduled to return, but is not sure if that will be for this weekend or for the MAAC tournament in Springfield.

Sophomore James Ford left the Bobcats’ first meeting with Marist with a concussion and Moore said they are hopeful to have him by the weekend, but they are not sure if Alain Chigha will return this season from a concussion.

After suffering an injury to his right knee and missing two games, Drame has returned to form and scored a career-high 26 points against Niagara.

“He’s probably 80 to 90 percent,” Moore said of Drame’s health. “We just have to do a really good job of rehab and we really have to monitor him in practice.”

“Our concern is conditioning with him, but we are lessening his practice load quite a bit. He’s in a really good place right now, in terms of confidence, focus and he’s been terrific.”

Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

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