Return of the Mack: How Mackenzie DeWees’ return affects the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team


Connor Lawless

Graduate student guard Mackenzie DeWees made her season debut in a 52-38 road victory against Manhattan on Jan. 26.

Benjamin Yeargin, Associate Sports Editor

If you had never seen Quinnipiac women’s basketball graduate student guard Mackenzie DeWees play, you would know that she’s a valuable asset to the program just from the pre-game ceremony conducted on Jan. 28, against Siena.

Returning from a right knee injury that sidelined DeWees for the first 18 games of the season, she had her fiancé locked in one arm and her parents in the other. DeWees walked between two lines of her Bobcats teammates to half-court, where Quinnipiac head coach Tricia Fabbri awaited to give her a basketball and a bouquet of flowers honoring her reaching the 1,000-point career milestone.

Fabbri knows exactly what having DeWees back means to the team.

“Besides an emotional lift, (DeWees is) just a great player in the uniform,” Fabbri said postgame on Jan. 28. “It’s been great to have her back.”

DeWees said on Twitter last week that she underwent multiple tests and injections throughout the past three months. A player as resilient as her will provide an immediate impact on this iteration of Quinnipiac women’s basketball. An impact that adds mentorship, stability and an improved offensive and defensive presence.

The most important contribution the Maryland native adds to the squad is her leadership and ability to be a mentor. She’s a team-first player, who finished second on the team in assists last season, the selfless mentality DeWees possesses is obvious in her relationships with her teammates.

“I just felt sorry for my team and my coaches, I didn’t even feel bad for myself,” DeWees said in a video released on Jan. 29, by Quinnipiac Athletics. “It doesn’t just impact me.”

That selfless attitude lifts her teammates, and when she’s playing, DeWees’ chemistry of four years alongside graduate student guard Rose Caverly and senior forwards Cur’Tiera Haywood and Mikala Morris is evident. When DeWees returns to the starting line-up, fans can expect a lot of assists to Haywood, Morris and Caverly.

Quinnipiac has experimented with different rotations throughout the season, seeking out combinations that maximize the potential of the team. With DeWees back, Fabbri has more options and stability in her line-ups.

In the very beginning of the season, the Bobcats used a five-woman rotation, changing out each person on the floor in what Fabbri dubbed the “gold rush.”

The starters included Caverly, sophomore guards Reiven Douglas and Jackie Grisdale, Haywood and Morris.

They were switched out for graduate student forward Mary Baskerville, redshirt freshman guard Rose Caso, junior guard Makenzie Helms, sophomore forward Grace LaBarge and freshman forward Ella O’Donnell.

O’Donnell and Baskerville have both stepped up as the season has worn on, with the former earning minutes in the starting line-up and the latter being the sixth man, garnering the most minutes off the bench.

In the Bobcats most recent game against Siena, Fabbri started off with the “gold rush,” but the combination changed. Douglas was out and has been coming off the bench since Nov. 27, O’Donnell was starting and DeWees came off the bench.

Later on, Fabbri elected to go back to a normal one-by-one rotation, primarily putting in Baskerville and DeWees, who finished with 26 and 20 minutes respectively. Baskerville tallied more minutes than Morris, who started at center, in the game.

“It’s going to be a challenge with who’s playing well,” Fabbri said. “But you do get a flow and find a rhythm with who’s giving you what out there on the floor.”

Fans can expect DeWees to slowly accumulate starting minutes in the next couple of games. In Quinnipiac’s previous bout against the Manhattan Jaspers, DeWees only played 12, so Fabbri is progressively building her up.

A player of DeWees’ magnitude, with accolades like MAAC Player of the Year, two-time All-MAAC first team and a 1,000-point club member, will start when she’s fully healthy.

What DeWees also adds to the team is a defensive prowess beyond the arc. Last season, she led the team with 106 total steals, a number that tied her for fourth in the nation with 3.3 steals per game. This year, the Bobcats have turned the ball over more per game than their opponents (17.8 to 16.3). Besides limiting them, another solution to win the turnover battle is to force more, which DeWees is the perfect person for.

DeWees is like a magnet to the ball. In her three seasons of starting for Quinnipiac, she has finished third, second and second in total rebounds on the squad. For a guard to be able to grab a board and either drive in or distribute is something the Bobcats have sorely lacked.

Quinnipiac already has some power in the paint with Morris leading the team in blocks and Baskerville leading in steals, and both are first and second on the roster in rebounds, respectively. But what DeWees brings defensively is the ability to force turnovers and collect rebounds.

Finally, on the offensive side, DeWees brings the capability to score inside the arc. When DeWees is on, she can seamlessly drive in the paint, and either stop her momentum and put up a shot or force her way to the basket and earn two points.

DeWees’ ability to drive on the baseline or into the paint may be inhibited by the injury to her right knee, but when she’s fully healthy, driving to the basket comes naturally to her. It’s common for DeWees to score points like that or pass when a shot isn’t viable.

But there’s a twist: she’s a dual threat offensive player too. Right off a pass she can pop a three or deep two, keeping the defense on its toes.

DeWees is a priceless player to this team, whether it’s her mentality or what she brings to the court. The only way to see exactly what she does is to keep an eye on Quinnipiac’s next game on Feb. 2, when they host Rider at 6 p.m.