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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Men’s basketball has bright future, despite tragic end to MAAC tournament

Tyler Rinko
Junior forward Alexis Reyes (center) huddles up with his teammates during Quinnipiac’s semifinal loss to Saint Peter’s.

For Quinnipiac men’s basketball, it was a season filled with milestones, expectations and dominance. If there was a year to win a MAAC title, this was this year, as the Bobcats were led by co-captains and  graduate student guards Matt Balanc and Savion Lewis along with senior forward Paul Otieno.

“The work defines the man, that’s what it says in the locker room on our wall,” head coach Tom Pecora said March 15 after the Bobcats 62-60 loss to Saint Peter’s. “I think these two guys and Paul, they fit that role perfectly.”. 

After beating the Peacocks in the previous two meetings this season, Quinnipiac couldn’t get the job done in the semifinals of the MAAC Tournament. Questions are now being raised about where it goes from here, with several key players graduating. It will make for an interesting offseason, although it will get the chance to play this weekend in the CBI tournament in Florida. 

“They care, they care a lot and that’s why we’re a good basketball team,” Pecora said. “I’ve coached a lot of good teams over the years, this is a really resilient group.They really respect each other and it starts with Matt, Savion and Paul Otieno.”

With the transfer portal opening this past Monday, Quinnipiac will look to be active in making additions to the roster for the 2024-2025 season. However, We may not see any moves for the Bobcats until its season officially ends after the CBI tournament concludes. 

Otieno is the only current captain expected to return and will lead the Bobcats alongside emerging sophomore forward Amarri Tice. Lewis could have another year left in Hamden and it’s still unknown whether or not his Quinnipiac career has come to a close. 

“Being able to build a foundation, there are young dudes on the team who watch me, Savion, Paul, and Amarri is a young guy he’s gonna be able to lead the guys into next year,” Balanc said on March 15. “I hope that what we left here was able to stay with those dudes, create something here that hasn’t been here for a while.” 

With the two guards leaving, the team’s depth will be tested and questions will arise as to who will replace them in the starting five. The only possible replacements on the roster are freshmen Daemar Kelly and Khaden Bennett, junior Doug Young and senior Arion Lewis. 

Of the group, the only one who has played a large amount is Young, with the rest seeing limited minutes this season and not playing much off the bench. 

Quinnipiac has two incoming freshmen that will join the roster for the 2024-2025 season. Guard Samson Reilly, as well as forward Braylan Ritvo will look to make an impact next season, with Reilly shooting over 40% from three, and Ritvo scoring 14.4 points along with 5.7 rebounds in his senior season. When the season is underway. Reilly will stay in his hometown state of Connecticut,  which was critical for the incoming freshman. 

“It’s a big draw for sure.” Reilly said on Aug. 3. “Being the local kid playing at Quinnipiac, I feel like that would draw more attention than (at) other places.” 

The team will also rely on freshman forward Rihards Vavers, who was a bright spot on the offensive side for Quinnipiac this season. The freshman, despite missing time with injury, shot 39.6% from the field and has improved throughout the season from beyond the arc as well at 33.3%. The Latvia native could see his role increase next season, possibly becoming part of the starting lineup and seeing an increase in minutes. 

Something that Quinnipiac has honed in on all season — defense — will likely continue with Tice. The Woffard transfer was a merchant on the glass, as well as Young, who saw the ball very well as the on-ball defender. Young will have a chance to become the starting point guard if Lewis elects to not return for next season. Coming off the bench, the Houston native played 15.3 minutes and shot over 30% from the field. 

Although the MAAC tournament came to an end with no championship, there is a lot to look forward to for Quinnipiac next year. The roster may look different, but the goal will remain the same. With the uncertainty of the transfer portal and the uncertainty of the MAAC conference as a whole, the Bobcats have a chance to keep up the success, as it looks to be on the right path with Pecora at the helm for the next few years 

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Tyler Rinko
Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

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    William HaneyMar 26, 2024 at 9:27 pm

    Just wondering… For basketball in 2024-25, is any school joining the MAAC?Any school leaving the MAAC?

    I live in Illinois, but someday I would love to attend your Conference Basketball Tournament. It looks like a great event to spend a weekend at.

    Thank you for your assistance on my questions.