Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
9/23/2007 10:00:00 PM
Building Up The Q
HAMDEN, Conn. -- It happens like clockwork, at noon and 3:30 p.m. every day on York Hill. A dynamite blast sounds, the gym shakes, and action on the court ceases for a couple of beats. It is the noise -- and feeling -- of progress at Quinnipiac, which jumped to Division I in basketball eight years ago but gives off the impression of a program starting anew.
They are making further enhancements to the TD Banknorth Sports Center, a $52 million basketball-and-hockey facility -- with separate, adjoining arenas for each sport -- that opened in January. The "luxury box" level, a corner overhang for VIPs, is being refined, but the hoops team has use of the floor for its workouts during the process. The university has begun construction on a new student center, dorms and parking garage nearby, hence the daily vibrations from the TNT. Coach Tom Moore and his players have gotten used to that by now; if anything, he says, "it means you don't always need your cup of coffee in the afternoon."
On March 29, Moore was lured away from UConn, where he spent 13 years as an assistant and for the last two was JimCalhoun's associate head coach, to revive a Bobcats team that has yet to come close to an NCAA tournament bid. Hamden being only 57 miles from Storrs, and 50 miles from his home in Tolland, Moore didn't have to uproot his family -- he has three daughters aged 5, 8 and 10 -- to take his first D-I head-coaching job. He said he was amenable to a smaller-conference gig, in the absence of say, a more high-profile opportunity in the Atlantic 10, as long he'd be taking over the best spot in the league. "And I think," Moore said of Quinnipiac, "that this place has the potential to be the best job in the Northeast Conference."
Whether Moore has the personnel to thrive in Year One remains to be seen. The Bobcats lost four of their top six players from 2006-07, when they finished 14-15 and third in the NEC. They'll be relying heavily on last year's leading scorer, fifth-year senior swingman DeMario Anderson (15.7 ppg), and are hoping that a minor knee injury he suffered in a recent workout won't balloon into a bigger problem. Moore finds himself channeling Calhoun the most in his dealings with Anderson, saying, "DeMario's a veteran and he's the star, so I try to communicate with him on a different level -- the same way I saw coach Calhoun do it with guys like Caron[Butler], Ray [Allen] and Richard [Hamilton],"
Quinnipiac's biggest offseason recruiting score was landing the Baker Boys, Washington D.C.-area brothers Jeremy and Evann, who could end up being the Bobcats' starting backcourt this winter. Moore had initially only targeted Jeremy, the older of the two and a point guard at Garden City Community College in Kansas. At the time, Evann, who averaged 22 points for Maine Central Institute last season, had already signed with Mark Turgeon at Wichita State. But when Turgeon left for Texas A&M, Baker was released from his letter of intent, and in July he opted to join Jeremy as part of Moore's first recruiting class. Evann's decision to come to Hamden, rather than shop for another mid-major or high-major offer, did not make national news -- but for Quinnipiac, it was a meaningful early return on its investment in basketball.
Aren't you forgetting that "The Q" plays in the NEC and they will always be overshadowed by UConn? Unfortunately, the rich, white folks at Quinnipiac won't be able to buy a good team like they did a new arena......