Despite loss, there’s plenty of optimism for Quinnipiac, Moore
By Michael T. Lyle, Jr.
HARTFORD — So it may have not been the outcome Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore was expecting. However, even after his Bobcats were soundly defeated by Connecticut, 82-49, on Sunday afternoon, Moore certainly has quite a few things to be proud of during his first few months as “the general” of his crew — and most of the 3,500 in attendance at the Hartford Civic Center immediately took notice.
In a state that’s well-known for the success of UConn hoops, the fans remember some of the best days Moore experienced during his 13 seasons as an assistant under his former mentor and Hall-of-Fame coach Jim Calhoun — eight Big East regular-season titles, five Big East Tournament titles, 12 straight NCAA tournament berths, and, oh yeah, two national championships. He was also known for being one of the top recruiters on the program who brought in a bevy of the best young basketball players around the country who would later go on to have successful careers in the NBA.
Indeed, those were the times. But Sunday’s result was a sign that times are much different for Moore, yet many around him believe he still has the ability and skill to take the Quinnipiac men’s basketball program to a new level, despite their early-season struggles.
The finest moment had to have come during pregame introductions. When Moore was introduced, almost everyone in the arena was standing and applauding as loud as they could, showing their appreciation for the former Husky assistant.
A great feeling for a coach of a former and opposing team to have? Perhaps. Would it have been better for Moore to get the win and complete what was a crazy week for the local media providing all sorts of coverage leading up to Sunday’s matinee?
But Moore knew what his team was getting into. He knew UConn was bigger, stronger and perhaps more athletic than his Bobcats. He also knew his Bobcats’ team had recently come off a tough road trip in which they edged out Army in a nailbiter in West Point, NY, a week earlier.
Casey Cosgrove, who lead Quinnipiac with 15 points, helped the Bobcats hang around with their in-state rivals for the first 15 minutes or so on some nifty shooting from beyond the arc.
That all changed once Husky guard Jeff Adrien keyed a big first-half run with a dunk and a free-throw to open up a 33-19 lead.
Quinnipiac tried as hard as they could to make a game of it, but the Huskies pulled away for good with a 16-4 sprint to start the second half.
Its a loss that may not have been as shocking to those watching from the stands, but Moore felt his team was much better than the way they performed on Sunday.
“I was very disappointed we didn’t compete scoreboard wise and didn’t show better”, said a dejected Moore. “I’d like to have our program to the point to where we can play teams like this.”
Last season, when Joe DeSantis was roaming the Quinnipiac sidelines, the Bobcats came a mere six points away from pulling off an upset of UConn in Storrs — the closest both teams have played in the nine times they’ve met.
But with a revamped UConn squad that’s full of expectations this season, Calhoun admitted that Moore’s team just ran into a Husky squad that’s starting to play better basketball as of late.
Yet, the Hall-of-Fame coach sees great things on the horizon for Moore and his program.
“I know (Moore) is disappointed and I don’t like to see him lose”, said Calhoun. “But I have no doubt in my mind, given his coaching ability, he’s going to do a great job. He’s got tremendous support and I think they’ll grow into a great team.”
Moore agreed, but felt his team started to commit costly turnovers and began to run out of energy down the stretch.
“They didn’t quit,” said Moore. “They’re hard-workers and are fun to work with. It was just that some foul situations and some fatigue caught us toward the end of the first half.”
This game should also serve as good tune-up for Northeast Conference play next month. The Bobcats will wrap up their non-league portion of the campaign with a pair of home games against Ivy League members Dartmouth and Cornell, and then a road trip up to Vermont for a showdown with the Catamounts.
So, as a cold, snowy afternoon/evening in the capital city of Connecticut came to an end, memories were rekindled and laughs were shared. While neither team is certain as to whether or not these two programs
will compete again next season, this much is known.
Regardless of what happened on the hardwood of the Civic Center on Sunday, December 16, 2007, both Moore and Calhoun will continue to have as much praise for each other and for their programs — and they’ll continue to remain great friends.
“I miss him as a recruiter and more as a friend”, said Calhoun. “Quinnipiac is benefiting from him being there. They’re headed in the right direction.”
“All the credit goes to them”, added Moore. “They didn’t have the same swagger that they did today. I wish them nothing but the best for them in the Big East this season.”