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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quinnipiac ready for season opener

HAMDEN — Garvey Young watched from the sidelines in anguish last year.

After transferring from Vermont to Quinnipiac, the 6-foot-5 slashing forward had to sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules. He practiced with the team but could only watch from the bench as Quinnipiac won 20 games for the second straight season and then lost to Robert Morris by two points in the Northeast Conference tournament, also for the second year in a row.

“It was tough,” Young said. “I knew that I could help them and I saw how disappointed they were after it was over.”

The waiting game is almost finished for Young. Although eligible, Young is rehabbing a torn labrum and is expected to miss at least the first three games of the season.

Coach Tom Moore hopes it won’t be any longer.

“He’s real good,” Moore said. “He made an impact at Vermont and can be a difference maker in this conference.”

The Bobcats open the season on Friday night when they play Fairfield in the Connecticut 6 Classic at the Mohegan Sun at 5:30 p.m. Young won’t play in the game and the status of All-NEC first-team guard James Johnson is unknown.

Johnson, the team’s leading scorer (16.1 ppg) from last year is still facing assault charges from an on-campus incident a month ago. He may face team sanctions yet to be announced by Moore.

But Moore is confident that Johnson will soon return to lead the team, which has earned a berth in consecutive postseason tournaments for the first time in school history. Johnson is potentially the best player in the league, a shooter, point guard and solid defender. Young is the X-factor.

“I don’t think the Quinnipiac community knows what I can do,” Young said. “They’ve seen me on the bench last year but they don’t get to see me at practice.”

Young can step out and hit the 3-pointer or drive to the basket. Like Johnson, he is a strong defender who had 54 steals while at Vermont. Young started 50 games in his two seasons with the Catamounts averaging 7.4 points and 4.0 rebounds a game as a sophomore. Vermont went to the NCAA tournament in his first season.

Young is just one of 11 newcomers to the squad. Justin Rutty, one of the nation’s leading rebounders, and shooting guard Deontay Twyman graduated after last season and a slew of others transferred.

While there are plenty of new faces eager to fill the holes, Moore does bring back guard Dave Johnson, who can shoot and fill in at the point, and rugged forwards Jamee Jackson and Ike Azotam. The latter pair are capable of replacing Rutty, who took the team into the national limelight as a rebounding force.

“I can’t single out any one of the freshmen who will contribute,” Young said. “They’re all doing good and they have different strengths to their game. Some can shoot, some can rebound.”

Moore just hopes they all compete. His demonstrative approach on the sideline has led the Bobcats to a 28-8 conference mark over the past two seasons, yet the title has eluded them. Without Rutty, Quinnipiac was picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll.

“It’s probably where we should be picked,” Moore said. “But the goal is the same, to win the title.”

And Young could be the one to put them over the hump.

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