Quinnipiac University’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams are entering their fourth season as Division I programs. The Basketball Media Night, held at Eli’s on Whitney on Wednesday, November 14th offered a preview of the 2001-2002 season for these teams. Both teams’ head coaches expressed their readiness to get into the season and “look at another team.”
Last year the Men’s Basketball team finished their 50th season of varsity competition with a disappointing 6-21 record, (3-17 NEC). Head Coach Joe DeSantis returns this year for his sixth season with the Braves and is hopeful, with the mix of veteran and new players, this his team can improve upon last years record.
DeSantis played collegiate basketball at Fairfield University where he still ranks second in career points with 1,916. He was named the 1999-2000 NEC “Coach of the Year” by CBSSporsLine.com, after leading the Braves to an impressive 18 win season in only their second year as a Division I program.
“We play well. We play hard. We play together,” said DeSantis about this year team. He described his players as a good, loyal group of guys.
DeSantis, who before coming to Quinnipiac spent 14 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level, thanks his colleagues for their help.
“I have to attribute the success of my team to my assistants,” he said. The team’s assistant coaches are Steve Baker, in his sixth season with the team, Ed Young and Mitch Oliver, who are each in their second season with the team.
The team gained six newcomers this season, and DeSantis said to keep an eye out for 5’10” Rob Monroe, a freshman from Lanham, Maryland. He also emphasized the importance of his senior co-captains, Jared Grasso and Bill Romano.
“They are the heart and soul of the team. They provide major leadership on and off the court,” DeSantis said.
Grasso and Romano, the only seniors on the team, lead their teammates with three years of experience, both starting the program in its first year at the Division I level. Both captains are currently on Quinnipiac career scoring list; Grasso at 33rd with 887 and Romano at 31st with 931, each of them well within reach of breaking a thousand.
Grasso, a 6’3″ Syosset, New York native, is optimistic about the season.
“There is no reason we can’t compete to win the title,” he said. “We are practicing a lot better then we did last year, and our chemistry is a lot better.”
The sharpshooter from outside the arc is currently third on the schools all-time career three-pointer list with 166, he averages 11.7 points per game and has started 81 games in his collegiate career.
“We’re really excited about this season,” said Romano, a 6’8″ Wethersfield, Connecticut native. “We have a good group of guys who know how to play hard and want to win.” Roman finished third on the team in scoring last season and averaged an even 10 points per game.
Probable starters for the Men’s Basketball team in addition to Romano and Grasso are 6’3″ sophomore Kason Mims, 6’6″ sophomore Rashaun Banjo and 6’6″ junior Jeremy Bishop.
The Quinnipiac Women’s basketball team finished their last season with and impressive 16-13 record (12-6 NEC) and suffered a disappointing 80-74 overtime loss in the Northeast Conference tournament, to the eventual champion, Long Island.
Head Coach Tricia Sacca-Fabbri, who is in her seventh season with the program, was named the Northeast Conference Coach of the Year after the teams extraordinary 2000-2001 season.
“We have great leadership,” Sacca said, talking about the team’s co-captains, senior Theresa Sanchez and junior Kara Cassidy.
“We were picked to finish fifth this year, and we finished second last year,” said the 5’4″ Cassidy, from West Chester, Pennsylvania. “We know the potential we have and we’ll just have to prove it to the rest of the conference.”
Katie Caputi, a senior from Atco, New Jersey, said that the team has a tough out of conference schedule including games against Boston College, Lehigh and Yale. She said that they are “looking forward to it because it will prepare [them] for the rest of the season.”
Sophomore Ashley Kelly contributes to the experience on the team, and averaged 10.3 points and 8.4 rebounds in her freshman season.
There are five freshmen on the team this year and Cassidy said, “even though it’s early in the season we’ve really clicked on and off the court.”
Sacca said that so far she is happy with their week to week progress and she also thanked her assistant coaches for all their help; Karen Byrne in her second season, Rachel McGrath in her first season and John Vigliotti in his fifth season with the team.
At the media night, sponsored by Hudson United Bank, Quinnipiac Athletic Director Jack McDonald spoke about the increased broadcast coverage of the Basketball teams this season. All of the Quinnipiac Men’s and Women’s Basketball games will be broadcast on WQUN AM 1220, as well as on the Internet at www.quinnipiacathletics.com.
In addition to radio broadcasts four of the men’s games will be broadcast on WCTX-TV, which reaches up to 953 thousand homes in Connecticut. The televised games will be announced by Bill Mecca, the QU Associate Athletic Director, and Glen Conticello, a veteran sports announcer of 21 years. Two other men’s basketball games will be shown on MSG-TV, one on Comcast Cable, one on WTXX and one women’s game will be televised on Cablevision.
McDonald said that the increasing broadcast coverage of Quinnipiac athletics is a sign of the University’s growth has a Division I program.