December 2, 2011

Men's Basketball Set For Bryant On Saturday

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Quinnipiac University Bobcats (2-4) vs.
Bryant University Bulldogs (1-6)
Saturday, December 3, 2011 – 3:00 p.m.
TD Bank Sports Center – Hamden, Conn.

Men's Basketball Set For Bryant On Saturday
After just one full day of preparation, the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team returns to the court for their next Northeast Conference showdown on Saturday, December 3. The Bobcats are set to host Bryant University for a 3 p.m. start at the TD Bank Sports Center. 

All-Time Against Bryant
The Bobcats are 40-17 all-time against the Bulldogs dating all the way back to the 1966-67 campaign, where QU outlasted Bryant in the NAIA District 32 Playoffs under the direction of Head Coach Burt Kahn. However, since accepting its bid to Division I in 2007, Quinnipiac holds just a 3-3 mark against Bryant.

Scouting The Bulldogs
Bryant has endured a difficult stretch to begin the 2011-12 campaign, now at 1-6 overall, 0-1 in the Northeast Conference. After a season-opening loss to San Diego State, a NCAA Sweet 16 contender last year, the Bulldogs tallied their first win against UC Davis in the second game of the Basketball Travelers Classic out in California. Since then however, Bryant has been on the wrong end of five straight, most recently to Central Connecticut State in its NEC opener on Thursday night. Offensively, Bryant is led by Alex Francis; a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward from Harlem, N.Y. Francis is averaging 19 points and eight rebounds per game, good enough for fourth in both categories in the NEC. The Bryant backcourt consists of Frankie Dobbs and Corey Maynard, a junior-sophomore combo that also averages in double-figures. Defensively, the Bulldogs rank among the league's bottom three in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense, a promising statistic for Head Coach Tom Moore and the QU offense.

Last Season Against Bryant
The Bobcats and Bulldogs split the season series last year, with each team snatching a victory on the road. In the first game, QU relinquished a large halftime lead, as the Bulldogs' second-half surge earned them a 69-60 triumph at the Bank. James Johnson and Ike Azotam led the way with 11 and 10 points, respectively. However, Quinnipiac avenged the home loss with a strong showing the second time around. The Bobcats captured a 20-point win in Smithfield, R.I., where Johnson led all scorers with 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting from behind the arc.

On The Air
Saturday's game will be aired on Quinnipiac Bobcats TV and can be heard live on AM 1220 WQUN by clicking the appropriate links posted on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. The voice of the Bobcats, Bill Schweizer, will have the play-by-play call, with Billy Mecca and Bob Tipson providing color commentary. Fans can also tune into live stats as well.

Last Time Out Against Sacred Heart
The Bobcats lost to Sacred Heart on Thursday night in their Northeast Conference opener at the TD Bank Sports Center. Ike Azotam led the way for QU, as the sophomore forward scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. James Johnson also fared well offensively, registering 15 points in reduced minutes due to foul trouble. Garvey Young and Zaid Hearst added five points and two others finished with four. QU controlled the paint, 28-22, the boards, 45-39, and second chance points, 15-3, but surrendered an 11-point edge on the free-throw line. In addition, Sacred Heart finished 42 percent of its shot attempts, compared to just 31 percent from the Bobcats.

Johnson, Azotam Earn Monthly Accolades
James Johnson and Ike Azotam were recently tabbed to the CollegeHoops.Net November NEC All-Conference Team, announced December 1, 2011. Johnson averaged 19 points, four rebounds and 3.3 assists in four games through November. He shot 41 percent both overall and from three-point land, and totaled six steals in the month. Azotam also fared well throughout the month of November, aiding Johnson on the offensive end. He averaged 13.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in five games for the Bobcats, including individual career-highs in points (20) and rebounds (18) against American and Yale, respectively.

15th In Sight
After leaping Robert Vacca for 17th on the all-time career scoring list on Nov. 22, Johnson moved ahead of Joe Trimarchi's 1,293 points (16th) with his 25-point performance against Lehigh, Nov. 28. Next on the list is a former teammate of Johnson's in James Feldine. Feldine left QU in 2010 with 1,320 points, now just 11 ahead of Johnson, after scoring 15 points against Sacred Heart on Thursday.

In Good Company
Entering the 2011-12 season, James Johnson found himself on a shortlist in one particular category. Johnson joined Ken Horton and Robby Ptacek of CCSU, Shane Gibson of SHU and Umar Shannon of St. Francis (Pa.) as NEC players with at least 10 career, 20-point games. With his two 25-point games against Yale and Lehigh, Johnson now has 13 of them, just two behind Gibson for third place on the list.

Among The Elite
Quinnipiac has once again established itself as a national power on the boards. The Bobcats lead the nation in rebounds per game (44.7), and are top-15 in offensive rebounding (16.2) and rebounding margin (10.0). This marks the third consecutive season that QU has cracked the top-10 in rebounding; including a second place finish (42.3 per game) in 2010-11. (Behind North Carolina – 42.5 per game)

Just Like Ike
Through the first six games of the season, Ike Azotam is fourth in the country in rebounds per game (12.3). He has posted double-doubles in five of his first six games, including careers-highs with 17 points and 18 rebounds against Yale on Nov. 15. Furthermore, with his performance against Sacred Heart, he moved closer to third place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. He collected his seventh career double-double, when he netted 18 points and hauled in 16 rebounds.

300-300
Junior Jamee Jackson needed just one rebound for 300 in his career, and grabbed seven of them on Thursday night against Sacred Heart. He now has 306 rebounds to go along with 378 points in just over two years with the program.  

Balanced Attack
James Johnson portrayed his offensive prowess once again at Lehigh on Nov. 28, but was also joined by three others in double-figures. Junior Dave Johnson, senior Garvey Young and freshman Ousmane Drame put together their best performances of the campaign. Dave Johnson finished with 14 points and three assists, Young added 11 points and five boards and Drame finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Sharp-Shooter
Freshman Nate Gause granted the Bobcats a much needed spark off the bench at American on Nov. 22. Gause reset his career-high in points with 14 on 6-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc. He has now recorded double-digits in his three of his first four games and ranks 30th in the league in scoring (9.8 points per game). Fellow teammate James Johnson began his career by scoring double-digits in four of his first seven games.

Depth Not An Issue
In the game against Navy on Nov. 19, all 16 members of the team saw time on the hardwood. 12 different members recorded at least one point, the first time since November 22, 2005 in a 106-57 win against Concordia. On the season, nine players are averaging more than 14 minutes per game, with three others accumulating at least seven minutes per outing.

On Lock-Down
QU held Yale to just 26.8 percent shooting overall and 22.6 percent in the second half of play on Nov. 15. The Bobcats have not had a more dominant display of defense since the 2008-09 campaign, when they limited the Terriers of St. Francis (N.Y.) to 25.4 percent shooting overall and just 21.9 percent in the first half.

50 Again
The Bobcats grabbed 54 rebounds in their home-opener against Yale on Nov. 15. QU nabbed 50 or more boards in six games last season, including a program Division I record 60 against Lehigh on Dec. 7, 2010. Quinnipiac had three 50-rebound games in all of 2009-10, and never had three 50-rebound games in 11 prior seasons at Division I. Quinnipiac has corralled 50 rebounds in a game 12 times in Tom Moore's four years at QU. In nine years prior at Division I, QU had just five 50-rebound games, with only two coming against teams classified at Division I at the time of competition.

No Stage Fright Here
In their first career game with a Bobcats' uniform draped over their shoulders, freshmen Nate Gause and Zaid Hearst sparked the QU offense against Fairfield on Nov. 11. Gause dropped 12 points, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc and nabbed three rebounds in his inaugural game. Zaid Hearst made his first career start in the season-opener and fared well in the back court. Hearst had six points, seven rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes of action.

On Deck
The Bobcats return to action with a quick turnaround for another NEC match-up on Saturday, December 3 at the TD Bank Sports Center. Tip-off against the Bulldogs of Bryant is set for 7 p.m. Live video, audio and stats will all be available at, www.quinnipiacbobcats.com.

Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu