Monday, August 26, 2013

Team Report: Quinnipiac Women Strong Right Away

Here's another in the series looking back, and ahead, at conference teams.

But, first, full disclosure. We've already completed the reports on the 10 teams that made up the MAAC last season. Left, now, are two newcomers, Quinnipiac and Monmouth.

Your Hoopscribe sees every team in the league a minimum of two or three times annually, often more. But, we can't claim to have seen, in person, the teams from the two newcomers.

Still, we'll do a similar report to the longer-tenured conference teams. But, be advised, that the information comes mostly from word of mouth and personal research.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 18-0 in the Northeast Conference (league champion), 30-3 overall.

2012-13 RECAP: Best season in the program's history with its first NCAA appearance. There, it lost a first-round game to Maryland, which finished with a 26-8 record and advanced to the tournament's round of 16 before losing to eventual national champion UConn. The Bobcats' other losses were to Hartford (21-12, a WNIT participant) and Georgia Tech of the ACC. Quinnipiac started fairly fast, 8-2 overall, before things really picked up with a 22-game winning streak that included a perfect 18-0 slate against league foes and three NEC tournament victories.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Just about everything, particularly in league play where Quinnipiac won its 18 NEC games by an average of 16.8 points per contest. Shades of Marist! Would love to have seen if Quinnipiac could have tested the Red Foxes a year ago. The Bobcats' non-league slate of this past season did include one MAAC opponent and resulted in a 72-57 victory over a good Rider team. Felicia Baron, a guard was the team's only senior of significance and was one of the better NEC players, averaging 13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.6 steals per game, which was fourth-best nationally. She will be missed. Sophomore point guard Gillian Abshire has started all 65 games of her first two college seasons and her 2.41 assist-to-turnover ratio last season was 10th-best nationally. Brittany McQuain, a 5-foot-11 senior-to-be forward, averaged 8.3 rebounds per game and looks like a nice player.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Hard to place blame anywhere, not only because of the stellar season but because we didn't actually witness games. Statistically, the team operated at a deficit of more than three rebounds per contest, but overcame that with (like Marist) a take-care-of-the-ball philosophy. Its turnover margin of forcing opponents into 8.55 more turnovers per game than it committed was No. 1 nationally. Any team with that many extra possessions per game is bound to have a lot of success.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Hard to judge how Quinnipiac will do in its new league. The NEC is widely acknowledged as a half step below the MAAC. Still, its better teams are usually competitive with just about any MAAC program in a given year. The Bobcats do lose their best player in Barron, but pretty much have everything else coming back. Its coach, Tricia Fabbri, is certainly secure, having been awarded a contract extention through the 2017-18 season. And, justifiably so. She has been in place for 18 years and 273 wins, after taking over when the program was on the Division II level and coming off a 2-win season. Since the 2005-06 season, her teams have averaged 20.2 victories per game. She is recognized as a quality coach and will be able to match up well, from a coaching standpoint, in the new conference. One other point: While I haven't seen the Quinnipiac teams play, I have been on campus and got a look at the school's athletic facilities. They are first class for the mid-major level and the basketball venue might be the best overall in the MAAC, outside those times Siena and Fairfield play games in nearby arenas.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: Again, it's tough without first-hand viewings of the program. But, most believe the Bobcats will be a legitimate threat to get into the top five, at least, in their first MAAC season. The guess here is somewhere in the third, fourth or fifth-place range.

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