Quinnipiac Sizes Up To The MAAC

Two years ago, when Quinnipiac made the jump from the NEC to the MAAC, head coach Tom Moore was asked what the biggest difference between the leagues was.

Quinnipiac freshman Chiase Daniels attempts a free throw
Sophomore Chaise Daniels projects to take over the reins in Quinnipiac’s 2015-16 frontcourt.

“The athleticism and size,” Moore responded.

It took two years, but the Bobcats have officially sized up to the competition. As it turns out, it happened as just one part in a wave of changes that struck Hamden this summer.

Longtime athletic director Jack McDonald retired after 20 years at the University, his shoes filled by former Duquesne AD Greg Amodio. Various other changes, from Sports Information and Basketball Operations, to two members of the coaching staff, to seven new additions to the program, marked a sudden, sweeping reform at Quinnipiac.

“No, never,” Moore said when asked if he had ever seen this much turnover in a staff during one off-season. “It gets you thinking that you’ve got to do stuff better and differently, and explore new ideas.”

The Bobcats graduated their top four scorers from last season in Zaid Hearst, Ousmane Drame, Evan Conti and Justin Harris. Their most productive returner is James Ford Jr., a senior guard who averaged 5.3 ppg in 2014-15.

However, Moore’s seven newcomers bring a wealth of young talent to help fill that void.

Lose a 6’4” Hearst and 6’3” Conti? Here come the Robinson twins, Aaron and Andrew, hitting the court at 6’6” apiece. Add the sharpshooting Gio McLean, eligible to play after last year’s scandal, and junior college transfer Daniel Harris to the returning group of guards, and suddenly Moore has one of his deepest perimeter groups in eight years.

Lose the 6’9” Drame, the MAAC’s Defensive Player of the Year last season, and the 6’8 Harris? The Bobcats’ frontcourt adds the towering 6’9” junior college transfer Donovan Smith and 6’10” grad transfer Will Simonton to complement returning 6’9” sophomore Chaise Daniels and 6’8” incoming freshman Abdulai Bundu among others.

Suddenly the Bobcats, number one in the nation in rebounds per game each of the last three seasons, can crash the boards with height Hamden has never before seen.

“I like this team’s size,” Moore said. “I think this could be our biggest team that we’ve had from 1 to 5 across the board. We could be big at the rim again, but I like that we can be big at the wings as well.”

Moore’s newfound willingness to dive into transfer and junior college pools has allowed the Bobcats to bring in talent to finally match the size of their new league. Four of his new additions come via transfers or junior college products.

It seems Quinnipiac has bought into the history of the MAAC as a guard-driven league, but they haven’t yet lost sight of the frontcourt prowess which has powered them over the last half decade. After all, size does matter.

Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.

21 thoughts on “Quinnipiac Sizes Up To The MAAC

  1. Tom Moore is so overrated and so is the MAAC. Quinnipiac couldn’t get past robert Morris or Long Island in the NEC. Moore and Quinnipiac have never won a championship. The MAAC is overrated as well. Iona plays no defense and plays 6 guys and 2 guys do all the scoring. Manhattan got embarrassed last year by an under 500 Hampton team while Robert Morris beat a North Florida team that experts said should have been a 15 seed.

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      1. Iona didn’t deserve an at-large bids. Everyone talked about their non-con schedule being so tough, but they lost all those games. That year Robert Morris won like 15 road games.

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      2. Not only has Moore never gotten Quinnipiac to the NCAA Tournament, but he is winless in 4 post season games losing to Virginia Tech, Yale, Buffalo and Penn in the NIT, CBI and CIT. Moore arguably has had some of the best talent over the years in big-men, Justin Rutty, Azotam, and Drame and guards like Feldine and Johnson. So if Moore couldn’t get it done in the NEC. Then Iguess he is in trouble in the “More athletic and bigger MAAC.

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      3. Like NEC fan said the thing that hurts the NEC is the bottom 5 teams. How bout how SFBK manhandled Canisius two season ago by almost 25 points but that same Canisius team finshed 3rd in the MAAC or better yet what happened to Monmouth a top MAAC team last season when they played SFBK….. The upper half of the NEC can definitely play against any MAAC team any night! And if you took a bottom Maac team they wouldn’t do to well against the middle or top of the NEC.

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  2. Interesting debate – one of my favorites, actually. I think there are several reasons why the MAAC is a better league (even though I am partial to the NEC). This is purely anecdotal and simply a perception so please feel free to correct any of these:

    1) From a coaching standpoint, I would venture to say that there is a bigger athletic budget at most MAAC schools that would attract and retain good coaching talent.

    2) The top programs (Iona, Manhattan) stay on top. This puts the onus on the mid to bottom tier schools to improve. Maybe resulting in the bottom schools being slightly better than the bottom schools of the NEC. NEC needs a dynasty-type team that can regularly knock off a top mid major.

    3) (see #2) The bottom NEC are generally among the worst 10 to 15 teams in the country. This will always bring conference ratings, etc., down.

    4) Fan base and support. MAAC schools (mostly Catholic/Jesuit) have a deep rooted basketball culture – often stemming from Administration. Whereas the NEC schools, by and large, appear to be a bit more transient.

    Anyway, food for thought and an interesting topic.

    GO MOUNT!!!

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    1. Can’t argue with any of your comments. I’m just saying the MAAC is not as good (overrated) as they would like everyone to believe. Robert Morris has wins over Kentucky and St.Johns in past 3 yrs.

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  3. Your belief that coach Moore is overrated is baseless and completely absurd. Losing to two very good Robert Morris teams on 13-14 foot floaters is not an indictment in anyway on his coaching or his staffs. That is a flat out lazy argument.

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      1. What has Moore down at Quinnipiac Steve? With pretty good talent he has been at best competitive.

        Lazy argument? I listed his failures go ahead and list his accomplishments at Qunnipiac. Talk about a lazy argument show something.

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  4. Take it for what it is worth, but Robert Morris head basketball coach has 5 post season wins over the likes of Kentucky, St. Johns, North florida, Indiana State and Toledo. Would be interested in knowing how many combined post season wins the MAAC have in the last 8-to-10 years. I believe Toole has more post season wins than the entire NEC combined.

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    1. That’s what the MAAC would like u to believe. Manhattan looked real good last year losing to below 500 Hampton. Iona wins regular season every year playing 6 guys and no defense. Robert Morris coach Andy Toole has won 5 post season games in last 4 years I don’t think the MAAC combined has won 5 post season games in that time span.

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  5. They do “belong” in the same conversation. 1 thru 10 (or 11), the MAAC has the edge – but not by a ton. I like the idea of a MAAC/NEC challenge (a la Big 10/ACC). That would be cool. Not every team every year, but maybe 8.

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    1. MAAC would never do it too much to lose. This year SFBK plays Manhattan and St. Peters a team picked 5th in the NEC lets see what happens.

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