The QU men’s basketball team was picked in the pre-season coaches poll to finish a top the NEC this season. After an 89-78 loss to Monmouth this past Saturday, the Bobcats record falls to 3-8 in the NEC (7-15 overall).
Coach Joe DeSantis says his team is “struggling to make the big play.” The loss to Monmouth was Quinnipiac’s 4th straight loss. The Bobcats lost their previous three by a combined 6 points.
“We keep trying and we know we’re close (to winning). When expectations are high (and you’re losing) you think of the team as a failure,” said DeSantis.
Despite an uphill battle, he does not question his team’s level of play.
“I have never seen a athletic program that puts in as much effort as my guys do,” said DeSantis.
As of Feb. 6, men’s basketball is ranked first in total points scored (1548) and points per game (73.7) in the NEC.
These numbers are reiterated by strong individual performances this season. Tri-captains, senior guard Kason Mim’s, junior guard Rob Monroe and senior forward Rashaun Banjo have all joined the1000 point club. Monroe achieved this feat back on Jan. 25, while Banjo reached his mark in last Thursday’s loss.
Monroe is averaging 17.0 points per game, including a 36-point performance at Hawaii-Hilo back on Nov. 30. Monroe adds to his resume a 3-point buzzer beater that put away Central Connecticut back on Jan. 28.
Mims, who was sidelined during preseason conditioning because of an injury, is the fourth player in NEC history to score 1,000 points, record 500 assists and grab 250 rebounds.
Also, Monroe and Mims contribute to the team’s scoring frenzy by each averaging 5.0 assists per game.
Mims received athlete of the month award for January by recording three game with 20 or more points and three double-doubles. Also, he scored nearly broke his career high by scoring 26 points in Saturday’s loss.
Added DeSantis, “They are quality players and the 3 best I have ever seen.”
Also, DeSantis praised the emergence of junior forward/center C. J. Vick in his new role as a post player.
“He was at a disadvantage in previous years”, said DeSantis, referring to Vick playing out of position in previous years.
Vick has been the high scorer in three games this season (21, 23, 19). He is currently 6th in the NEC in field goal percentage with a stellar .553.
Also, Vick snags 7.3 rebounds per game and has game high in rebounds in nine games, including double digit rebounds in seven of those games.
One new comer has made his mark on the court. Raining three’s is freshmen guard Van Crafton’s forte. He has impacted the offense immensely by posting an astronomical .422 3-point field goal percentage.
Crafton sank eight shots from downtown back on Jan. 21 versus Sacred Heart.
Despite these individual victories, the team does not accept losing and is hungry to win.
“My guys are good, but disappointed. They feel like they have let everyone down”, said DeSantis.
The Bobcats began the season on a grueling nine game road trip. Before their first home game, QU was in a 2-6 before their first home game and 2-7 before their first conference match-up.
“That road trip drained the players. I’m 46 and felt like 96,” said DeSantis.
With the talk of a brand new playing facility in store for the basketball team, among others, winning is vital to keep the program growing and moving along as hoped.
And certainly, Quinnipiac knows how to rise to the occasion. After posting a mediocre 9-9 record on Feb. 1 of last year, the Bobcats went on to win nine of their last 12 games, clinching an NEC tournament birth before losing to Wagner in the semi-finals.
Men’s basketball returns home tonight versus Robert Morris (7-4) (10-10) at 7:30 PM. With five of their remaining eight games at Burt Kahn Court, QU hopes to up the tempo and repeat history.
Have faith, keep it together, and give me tomorrow is advice DeSantis gives his players.
Added DeSants, “I don’t know who wants to play us in the playoffs”.
For Joe DeSantis and his players, hopefully the pre-season predictions hold true for all of Quinnipiac to see.