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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Five keys for men’s basketball to make program history in Atlantic City

Quinn O’Neill
Junior guard Doug Young, graduate student guard Savion Lewis and freshman guard Rihards Vavers celebrate while entering the second half against Saint Peter’s on Feb. 8.

Just a year ago, Quinnipiac men’s basketball team had a different head coach, and lost in the first round of the MAAC tournament to Marist in upset fashion. Now, first-year head coach Tom Pecora and the Bobcats are en route to their first conference championship and a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. 

Here are five ways the Bobcats can prove their dominance in the MAAC tournament


Performance of the front court

If Quinnipiac wants to make a run, it will need its big men — senior forward Paul Otieno and sophomore forward Amarri Tice — to continue to play at a high level. Tice is second in points per game, behind graduate student guard Matt Balanc, and the Wofford transfer has been a key asset in his first season in Hamden. It is imperative for the duo of Tice and Otieno to stay out of foul trouble in these games, as they led the Bobcats in personal fouls for the regular season. Having redshirt senior forwards JJ Riggins and Richie Springs available off the bench could help soften the blow, especially with their ability to step in at the five when Otieno comes off the court. Springs has averaged 4.1 Points this season off the bench along with Riggins averaging 1.7, their impact goes beyond the stat sheet.

“Thank god we have three, it goes back to our depth, we can play three guys at the five spot and when they play small we can even put Amarri there,” Pecora said on March 7.

Tice is averaging 13.3 points per game this season and has been a major offensive threat. The Newburgh native has been a monster for the Bobcats on both ends of the court, averaging seven rebounds along with 1.9 steals per game. Tice and Otieno’s efforts are indicative of what Quinnipiac basketball is all about —- defense first. 

“I take pride in my defense, I think my defense always translates to offense,” Tice said on March 7. “I’m just always gonna go out there and keep playing defense.”  


Using backcourt depth to their advantage

The Bobcats have often shown they have plenty of depth, and have been a team that hasn’t let injuries define them when they lost freshman forward Rihards Vavers as well as freshman guard Khaden Bennett. 

Different players have stepped up throughout the season. They’ve been able to see productive minutes from Vavers, Springs and junior guard Doug Young off the bench. Each has provided a spark when called upon. With Young, he plays very well defensively on the ball when Lewis is on the bench While Springs, shot 50% from the field solidifying his role he brings to the table. 

“I believe we’re the deepest team in this league,” Pecora said on March 7. “I think that can be a huge advantage for us however this thing plays out.” 


Free throws, free throws, free throws 

Quinnipiac is one of the best free throw shooting teams in the conference. 

Many players have seen success from the charity stripe for the Bobcats this season, including junior forward Alexis Reyes, who leads the team shooting 89.4% from the line. If Quinnipiac can gain chances at the free throw line, that can be a way for it to win games late in the second half. 

The Bobcats have improved their free-throw percentage by 12% from last year. In games that likely will come down to the wire, the Bobcats’ prowess at the line could prove to be a difference maker. 


The success of the pick and roll duo  

Graduate student guard Savion Lewis just broke Quinnipiac’s Division I single-season assist record, and he has had quite a season in his potential final chapter in Hamden. 

The “quarterback” of the team finished the regular season third in assists in the entire country. Additionally The Lewis-Otieno pick and roll has been something most teams have yet to figure out, and something that can easily create offense for Quinnipiac. If they can stick to this, and Otieno can create space down low, Quinnipiac could see lots of offensive success against opponents.

“He sneaks in in the morning, I come in and I check his log and I check the bin. There’s been times I come in at 7:30 (a.m.), and his stuff is already wet in the bin cause he was here at 5:30 (a.m.),” Pecora said of Lewis on Dec 8. “I had to tell him, practice and the games are enough, I know you want to work on things but you’ve got to be disciplined and you’ve gotta be smart with your body, especially in (Savion’s) case coming off an Achilles injury and obviously his knee last year, he’s a vital part of this.”


Playing to strengths, excelling on defense

Led by the frontcourt of Otieno and Tice, Quinnipiac has shown it can make tremendous strides defensively. The Bobcats have the highest point differential at +5.6 for the regular season in the MAAC, and if that trend continues throughout the tournament it could see major success like it has throughout the regular season. 

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Quinn O’Neill
Quinn O’Neill, Associate Multimedia Editor

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    Dyann paceMar 11, 2024 at 1:09 pm

    Great Article
    Go QU ⭐️