Women’s basketball has influx of talent

Zach Smart

On paper, it looks to be a rebuilding year for the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team, which went 16-13 (12-6 in NEC play) last season. This, of course, is after the departure of a solid core of players, including Krystal Pressley, a first-team All-NEC selection who averaged 17 points per game last year.

The junior guard transferred to Division II American International in the off-season.

Also gone from last season’s team are stud point guard Kim Fitzpatrick (114 assists last season) and a pair of deadly shooters in Helen Ridley and Lindsey O’Neil. This trio graduated in May of 2005.

But the Bobcats return one of the top players in the conference in standout sophomore forward Monique Lee and they bring in the most talented recruiting class in recent memory.

“There’s an influx of talent,” 11-year head coach Tricia Sacca-Fabbri said.

Senior forward Charmaine Steele added, “A great class leaves, but we have a bunch of great freshman who decided to come here this year.”

“It’s been exciting to watch them. I like the way they can put the ball in the basket,” said Sacca-Fabbri, referencing players such as freshman point guard Brianna Rooney, the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American finalist last year.

Another player Sacca-Fabbri expects big contributions from is guard Mandy Pennewell, who scored 14 points in the Bobcats’ 72-43 thrashing of McGill in exhibition action. Erin Kerner is another guard who’s already proved to be a potent scorer. Forward Kathleen Neyens rounds out this strong nucleus of newcomers that should help ease the loss of Pressly and the graduates.

Sacca-Fabbri has a powerful group of senior leaders in Steele, Jamie Harrington and Jackie Harris.

Last season, the Bobcats upset fourth-seeded Monmouth in the quarterfinals, before bowing to No. 1 seed and eventual champion St. Francis (Pa.) in the semifinals. This marked the team’s second straight trip to the NEC semifinals.

The team isn’t counting out a third trip back.

“Obviously, every team would like to be playing through March,” Steele said. “We’re looking to be at the top of the conference (at the end of the season).”