QU gets Moore for the money

Brendan Dowding

If Quinnipiac was looking for a strong head coach to take over the men’s basketball program, it’s safe to say the university landed one of the crown jewels of the coaching market.

Tom Moore, a top young coaching prospect, is taking the reigns for the Bobcats. Moore was officially announced as the new head coach at the TD Banknorth Sports Center last Thursday afternoon.

“To be chosen to lead this men’s basketball program at such a dynamic and exciting time in this university’s development is an incredible honor,” said Moore, who becomes the sixth head coach in school history. “We will strive for excellence in all we do on the court, in the classroom and in the community.

“Our players will be committed, together and tough-minded. And they will work right here in this beautiful TD Banknorth Sports Center and on Lender Court to represent the university in a first-class manner.”

Moore comes to Quinnipiac after serving under UConn head coach Jim Calhoun since the start of the 1994-95 season. In 2005, he was promoted to associate head coach. Moore also logged time on the recruiting trail where he built a reputation for having an excellent eye for talent.

Since becoming a coach in Storrs, he has helped turn the Huskies into a national powerhouse. UConn won the NCAA championship in 1999 and 2004 and has won eight Big East regular season titles. In his 13-year span there, Moore either recruited or coached players like Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon.

At Quinnipiac, Moore will have to spend more time devising game plans and less time recruiting. When it comes to courting players, more responsibility will be placed on his assistants in the years to come. He has a few new assistants in mind, but nothing permanent has been decided. None of the previous Quinnipiac coaches will stay on to assist Moore.

Calhoun was on hand Thursday to see his top assistant take over at Quinnipiac, a program that he feels is on the rise.

“You can win [at Quinnipiac] because people care about it,” Calhoun said. “Programs are either taken for granted or don’t have the resources to really help themselves. Here, [this program] is going forward very quickly. There aren’t many things that Tom is going to want for.”

Aside from the new arena and strong commitment from Quinnipiac, Calhoun feels like Moore will play just as big a role in making the Bobcats a successful team.

“Tom Moore gives Quinnipiac an advantage,” he said.

This will not be Moore’s first time as a head coach. He held the position at Division III Worcester State from 1989-1994 before heading to UConn. The New Haven Register reported that St. Bonaventure and South Florida were interested in Moore, but that both were also considering other candidates.

Moore’s new contract is reportedly a five-year deal, paying in the neighborhood of $300,000 a year, a high sum for a coach in the Northeast Conference.

Although he planned on meeting with his team late last week, Moore already had a game plan in mind for the upcoming season.

“Offensively, I’d like to play fast and try to combine that with taking quality shots,” he said. “I think the basic goal that we will try to stand for is to limit the amount of good shots the other team gets and limit their second chances.”

Moore already has Dec. 16 circled on his calendar. His Bobcats will travel to Storrs for a matchup with the Huskies. For the ‘Cats to have a chance, Moore will have to instill UConn’s basketball principles in his new players. In last season’s contest against UConn, the Bobcats gave the Huskies a tough game, but eventually fell, 53-46.

Quinnipiac Athletic Director Jack McDonald also joked during the press conference that UConn would be making the trip to Hamden at some point. The idea is far-fetched but McDonald would love to orchestrate some sort of arrangement.

“I’d like for [the Huskies] to come here at some point even if it’s just a ten-for-one deal,” he said.

The possibility for that scenario is even greater now that Calhoun’s top assistant is running the Quinnipiac program.

Moore takes over for former head coach Joe DeSantis, who led the program for 11 seasons before being fired March 7. DeSantis led the Bobcats to the semi-finals of the NEC tournament this year, but was defeated by Sacred Heart.

Before hiring Moore, Quinnipiac sought out the help of DHR, a Chicago search firm that locates qualified executives for any field or industry. McDonald said that although he was unsure how the search would initially turn out, he is now a believer. Moore, McDonald said, was one of the first candidates that turned up in the firm’s search.

Ironically enough, in finding Quinnipiac’s newest head coach, McDonald only had to make the drive up I-84 to UConn. The two schools are separated by just 60 miles. It is their basketball teams, however, that are worlds apart. Now it’s Moore’s job to close that gap.