Bobcats Travel To LIU Brooklyn For Regular-Season Road Finale
The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (15-11, 8-7 NEC) will make its final regular-season travel arrangements on Saturday evening. The Bobcats are set for LIU Brooklyn (20-7, 14-1 NEC), the Northeast Conference's top ranked team, at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Earlier in the season, the Blackbirds edged the Bobcats in an action-packed thriller. Tip-off for game two of the series is slated for 4:30 p.m.
All-Time Against LIU Brooklyn
The Bobcats hold a 15-12 record all-time against the Blackbirds; a series that saw a Bobcats' 10-game winning streak snapped a year ago. With its win earlier in the year, LIU has now taken the last two games from Quinnipiac, which hasn't happened since the 2004-05 campaign. Fans can expect a closely-played contest though, as last year's showdown was the only game in the last 11 seasons that featured a double-digit final margin.
Scouting The Blackbirds
Thus far, the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll favorite, LIU Brooklyn, has lived up to the early-season excitement. The Blackbirds are 14-1 in conference play, with the lone setback coming on the road to Robert Morris four weeks ago. Since then, LIU has boasted off six straight wins, most recently outlasting Sacred Heart in an overtime affair on Thursday. No secret here, the key to success against the Blackbirds is containing their high-powered offense. LIU ranks sixth in the nation at 81 points per outing, a figure that is nearly nine points higher than the NEC's second ranked team. Conversely to their offensive achievements, the Blackbirds are susceptible on the other end of the floor. LIU ranks last in the conference in scoring defense (76.3), surrendering 80 points or more on eight different occasions. Individually, the Bobcats will look to contain Jamal Olaseware (17.7 ppg) and Julian Boyd (16.9 ppg), as the front court tandem ranks fourth and sixth in the league, respectively.
Last Time Against LIU
The Bobcats posted a new Division I program record with 61 rebounds in their last meeting, but could not overcome LIU Brooklyn at the TD Bank Sports Center. Behind 14 second-half points from Ike Azotam, the Bobcats nearly erased a 14-point deficit late in the game; however, was unable to complete the comeback bid. Azotam recorded his ninth double-double with team-highs in points (17) and rebounds (11), while James Johnson compiled a stellar stat line with 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The 61 rebounds for the Bobcats were just five short of matching the NEC record as well. Nine players tallied at least four rebounds and two offensive rebounds in the game.
On The Air
Saturday's game can be heard live on AM 1220 WQUN by clicking the appropriate link posted on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. Bob Mortali will have the play-by-play call, with Bob Tipson providing color commentary. Fans can also tune into live stats as well.
Ike Azotam has been a force underneath for the Bobcats this season and currently leads the Northeast Conference in double-doubles. He collected his 13th double-double of the campaign on Thursday night and now remains just four behind the QU single-season mark set by Justin Rutty in the 2009-10 season. With his performance against the Terriers, he moved into a two-way tie for fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. Azotam has reached double-figures in two statistical categories 15 times for the Bobcats, tying Alex Francis of Bryant University.
Johnson Closes In On No. 10
James Johnson netted 20 points against the Blue Devils last week, moving into 11th place on the all-time scoring list. Johnson, now with 1,632 career-points, surpassed Carl Miazga's mark of 1,601 with the performance. The 6-foot guard is nine points shy of Boyd Johnson, who compiled 1,641 total points upon his graduation in 1991. He surpassed Justin Rutty's point total of 1,521 last month, which also moved him ahead into second amongst all-time division I scorers as well.
College Sports Madness Honors Azotam
Ike Azotam was named the College Sports Madness NEC Men's Basketball Player of the Week for his exceptional performance on the hardwood last week. The 6-foot-7 Boston, Mass. native averaged 16 points and nine rebounds in the two-game series sweep of Central Connecticut State. Azotam notched his 14th career double-double in the first meeting last Wednesday, pouring in 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the 28-point triumph. The sophomore followed that showing with a 15 point, eight rebound effort in the Sunday matinee at CCSU.
Drame Claims Third NEC Weekly Rookie Accolade
Ousmane Drame was tabbed the Choice Hotels/NEC Rookie of the Week for his efforts last week. The 6-foot-9 forward gave the Bobcats a much-needed boost in a two-game sweep of Central Connecticut during NEC Rivalry Week. The Boston, MA native averaged nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks as the Bobcats stretched their win streak to four games. In Wednesday's game, Drame put on an 11-point, eight-rebound performance in a 28-point victory over the Blue Devils, prevailing 72-44. In a televised affair on Sunday, he capped the sweep with seven points, eight boards and three blocks in a 69-57 victory on the road. Overall, he shot 7-for-12 from the field (.583), and added three assists and a steal. Drame has averaged 10.4 rebounds over his last six games and now ranks eighth in the NEC with 7.3 per game.
Heating Up In February
With their last four wins, the Bobcats improved to 23-6 (.793) in the month of February over the last four seasons. Quinnipiac has managed to hold opponents to just 36 percent from the floor, while shooting at a 43 percent clip.
150 Under His Belt
Head Coach Tom Moore recently appeared in his 150th game on the sideline for the Bobcats. Through 150 games with Quinnipiac, he accumulated an 89-61 record, which results in nearly a .600 winning percentage. Furthermore, Coach Moore fared even better in Northeast Conference competition, holding a 56-29 mark (.659) in five seasons.
Among The Elite
Quinnipiac has once again established itself as a national power on the boards. The Bobcats lead the nation in offensive rebounds per game (16.9) and are second in total rebounds per game (43.9) and rebounding margin (10.5). 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)
Rebounding Margin Factors In
Rebounding has become the identity of the Bobcats under the direction of Head Coach Tom Moore. Through 152 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 26 times. In 42 of the 152 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including 11 with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 40-2 mark when holding a plus-10 edge and a 10-1 record with plus-20.
Under Head Coach Tom Moore's tutelage, QU seems to make the necessary adjustments when playing a team for the second time around. The Bobcats are 23-12, a .657 winning percentage, over the last four years in the backend of the regular-season twinbill. This also includes six wins in which the team follows a loss in the first meeting.
The Bobcats set a new QU Division I program rebounding record and the nation's seventh highest rebound total of 2011-12 with 61 rebounds against LIU Brooklyn in their first meeting. It marked just the second time that the team has ever corralled 60 rebounds in a game, breaking the previous high of 60 which was set last year against Lehigh. QU has reached 50 rebounds four times thus far in 2011-12. The Bobcats had six 50-rebound games last season, 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 pulled down 50 rebounds in a game 15 times in Tom Moore's five 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.
Second Time Around
Quinnipiac's hunger on the offensive glass has them ranked first in the nation for the category. The Bobcats are averaging 15.3 second-chance points per outing through 26 games this season. Opponents have been held to just 8.6 second-chance points per game, which includes holding BU (12/31), SHU (12/3) and FDU (2/4) to just three. Furthermore, the Bobcats have registered at least 15 second-chance points 18 times this season, boasting 20 points or more on four separate occasions.
Just Like Ike
Ike Azotam leads the Northeast Conference and is tied for 26th in the nation in rebounding (9.8 per game), and leads the NEC and ranks seventh in the country in offensive rebounding (4.0 per game). He also has the nation's sixth best rebounding performance (18 rebounds against Yale, Nov. 15) and 13th best scoring performance (32 against Niagara, Dec. 22).
Breaking Rookie Records
Ousmane Drame has been a force on the glass in his rookie season for the Bobcats. Drame hauled in 10 rebounds against Monmouth on Feb. 4, setting a new freshman record for rebounds in a single-season. He hauled in his 167th rebound, surpassing Justin Rutty (144) and Ike Azotam (166), who previously owned the top two slots. He is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game this year, a mark that ranks him seventh in the league and first amongst the NEC's freshman class. In addition to his 191 rebounds, he also owns the rookie record for blocks in a season (22).
The Bobcats welcome the two Pennsylvania schools to the TD Bank Sports Center next week. QU plays host to Saint Francis (Pa.) on Thursday night before taking on Robert Morris on Saturday morning. ESPNU will broadcast the showdown with the Colonials on Senior Day for the Bobcats.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu