The calendar has turned over to November, and in colleges and universities across America, that can mean only one thing: college basketball is right around the corner. The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team starts their season on Friday, Nov. 19 against the Hofstra Pride in Bridgeport, Conn. If you listen to the mentality of this team, it could be the start of something big for the Bobcats.
Head Coach Trica Sacca-Fabbri said she likes what she has seen from this team so far in pre-season practices. “They give me everything, they are working fantastically and giving great effort. The returning players have really improved in leadership, growth and maturity. I love all 15 of them.” But she did admit that they will sorely miss the skill and leadership of departed players Ashlee Kelly, Sara Esidore, and Katie Kielty. “We will completely miss the players lost,” she said. “It was a tremendous class, and now it is time to establish what this team is about. It’s a different cycle,” Sacca-Fabbri said.
With the loss of Kelly, Esidore and Keilty, the Bobcats will be trying new game plans and styles to play to their strengths. Sacca-Fabbri said, “We’ve been talking about player personnel since June. It’s going to take time for everything to get in sync. We’ll continue with the up tempo offense, and use a match up zone defense, which fits our personnel better. We used to do about 80/20 man-zone defense, now it’ll be about 50/50. The zone will be more effective against most teams, since they usually practice man-to-man.”
Although Coach Sacca-Fabbri has yet to determine a starting 5 line-up, she says that 3 players are almost certain locks to make the starting five. Seniors Helen Ridley and Kim Fitzpatrick, and sophomore Krystal Pressley are slated to be starters. Ridley and Fitzpatrick, along with fellow senior Shirta Smith were named captains of the team, which Ridley is proud of. “It’s a huge honor to be named captain of this team,” Ridley said. She added how this year, the only goal she has is to win, saying, “Our goal is to go far in the NEC. My goal is just to help the team win. This is my last year, and the same goes for four others.” The seniors on the Bobcats this year are Ridley, Fitzpatrick, Smith, Lindsey O’Neil and Kasi Perrin-Carpenter.
The freshmen are also looking to make an impact this season. The new recruits are Hannalee Pervan, Amber Anderson, Sofia Kyritsis and Monique Lee. Lee knows that this year will be an adjustment. “The play is another level, more intense and competitive. I don’t know what to expect. But I’m excited to play with a good group of girls. It’s also going to be an adjustment for social life. Balancing school, practice, community service is tough, but once you get in the swing of things, you learn to adjust.”
The Bobcats road in the NEC will be as tough as ever this year. They hope to build on last years fourth place finish and NEC semi-finals appearance, which is something Coach Sacca-Fabbri said is more than possible. “We can finish top 4 in the conference, and win the NEC tournament when all is said and done, but we have to get through the first part of the season, and our tough non-conference games. But if we can hit our stride in conference play, we’ll be playing our best ball at the end of the season.” She also added there is one team in particular they, and everyone in the NEC has to watch out for. “We all have to watch out for St. Francis (Pa.) If someone else is going to win the conference, you have to go through them. They are the perennial winners. Sacred Heart, LIU and Monmouth will also be the teams to beat,” Sacca-Fabbri said.
The Bobcats are going to have a tough road ahead of them, but with some gritty play, smart coaching, the leadership of the seniors and excitement from the freshmen, this could all end with an NEC title, and a birth in the NCAA Tournament.