Sunday, March 9, 2014

Experience Helps Quinnipiac Women Upset Iona

Maybe it was the adjustment to a new league, seeing an entirely new cast of opponents in a conference affiliation a half a stop above the Quinnipiac women's previous membership in the America East Conference.

How else to explain a team that went unbeaten in its league a year ago (16-0) and returning four of five starters on th eheels of a 30-2 overall record and an NCAA tournament appearance looking a little more normal in its first MAAC season?

It might have take some time, but it appears the adjustments have all been made, as evidenced by the Bobcats' systematic manhandling of regular-season co-champion Iona, 79-68, in the MAAC tournament's semifinal round Sunday morning?

The outcome sends 21-11 Quinnipiac to Monday's 2 p.m. championship contest and the 26-5 Gaels into a state of uncertainty about their next game.

Hopes for an NCAA at-large berth are probably somewhere between slim to non-existent for an Iona team that was No. 62 in the most-recent RPI and will fall several spots after Sunday's loss. Still, the Gaels, as a conference regular-season champion, are guaranteed a berth in the Women's NIT.

As for Quinnipiac finally becoming accomodated to its new competitive situation ... the Bobcats' six regular-season MAAC losses all came to the three teams that finished higher in the regular-season standings.

"Yes, we were aware that we were 0-6 against the top three teams this year," admitted Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabri.

Iona had won both regular-season meetings by scores of 95-86 and 80-72.

But there were some new defensive wrinkles from the Bobcats on Sunday, including rotating any number of defenders on Iona's dynamic junior guard Damika Martinez, the three-time MAAC scoring champion who was recently accorded her second straight Player of the Year honor.

Quinnipiac, in fact, used so many of its players to take turns matching up in man-to-man defensive coverage on Martinez that Fabri named more than half her roster to identify her players who spent time trying to shadow Martinez.

The Iona guard finished with a game-high 32 points, but 17 of those came in the final 11 minutes after the winners had gotten out to a nine-point advantage, and none of Martinez' buckets after that brought her team closer than seven.

Teammate, sophomore forward Joy Adams added 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Gaels.

Martinez, Adams and reserve guard Aleesha Powell (10 points) combined for 62 of their team's 68 points.

Quinnipiac was significantly more balanced, getting double-figure scoring from four players (17 from Brittany McQuain and Jasmine Martin, 13 from Nicoline Ostergard and 12 from Samantha Guastella), and points from eight different players.

"They did a good job of taking Damika out of things early ... they did a good job on her, but we could have done a better job of finding other players to step up," admitted first-year Iona coach Billi Godsey.

It was an exhibit of a team that seemed to rely on the experience of having successfully gotten to an NCAA tournament berth just a year ago.

"Being here before definitely helps," admitted Quinnipiac's McQuain. "We know what we're playing for, how special it is and we know that every minute counts. Having reached the NCAA's last year helps us in the sense that we know we have to stay focused just on the next play, or whatever it is that we need to do."


speedboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Amedio said...

If you saw Quinnipiac play during the season, you'd know they're a very good team at this level. This wasn't that much of an upset, as witnessed by the Bobcats nearly also adding a victory over Marist in the championship game.
As for Godsey's inexperience ... A regular-season title would certainly seems to indicate she knows what she's doing.
Upsets happen. I certainly don't understand the constant belief that "fans" can judge coaches on a single game, knowing very little about the inner workings of a team and/or a game. My belief is that fans should leave the commentary about coaches' work to those who really have some insight and expertise.
The anonymous team "fan boards" are the places for "fans" to do their "venting." But, this isn't the forum for that.

speedboy said...

Just stating my opinion you even said yourself that she wouldn't have to change much with this team . The point is coaches sometimes try to recreate the wheel and get away from what brought them success . Enough said.thanks

Steve Amedio said...

Good coaches make the changes necessary for reasons we, as spectators aren't privy to. I am more than willing to think a coach who won a regular-season title knew what she was doing. And, again, no shame in losing to a very good Quinnipiac. Also, while Powell did not start vs. Quinnipiac, she played 29 minutes, just one minute less than her per-game average. And, she would have played more had she not fouled out. So, your argument/observation has no merit.
Again, this is not the forum for bashing coaches and their decisions. They know what they're doing. We don't.

speedboy said...

Bashing is a strong word Steve. I used the word inexperience to describe the move .Bashing that's a little dramatic .Team chemistry is a delicate thing.

Steve Amedio said...

Your first comment, which you deleted, was close enough to "bashing" for me to take some offense. Particularly since your view, based on playing time, etc., had no basis in fact.