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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Unity, youth driving Quinnipiac women’s basketball in transition year

Peyton McKenzie
Quinnipiac men’s and women’s basketball were both picked to finish fifth in the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll in October.

On paper, the 2023-24 Quinnipiac women’s basketball team does not look formidable. 

It’s an overwhelmingly young team. The new class of freshmen and one transfer comprises eight of the 15 players on the team.

It’s the Bobcats’ largest incoming class in head coach Tricia Fabbri’s 29-year tenure. But so far they’ve adjusted well into the program.

“I thought they were truly fearless, coming out and competing,” Fabbri said. “The challenge is going to be when we get in live games, there’s going to be a ton of learning.”

Headlining this incoming class is forward Anna Foley. Foley received the MaxPreps Massachusetts Women’s Basketball Player of the Year award for her 2022-23 season where she averaged nearly 17 points and eight rebounds on an undefeated Andover Golden Warriors team.

Her ability to distribute the ball across the court and to work the post makes her a very daunting figure to guard.

Paige Girardi and Maria Kealy both join Foley in receiving massive roles on the squad. The freshmen guards will start at either the one or two in the offense. Girardi makes her money beyond the arc and distributes the ball well, while Kealy’s strength is her defense, proving to be a pest no matter who she guards.

Freshmen guards Kassidy Thompson, Karson Martin, Ava Sollenne, Emma Carman, along with sophomore transfer Bri Bowen, will prove to be valuable off the bench, playing small, more fixated roles on the team.

Despite the talent the newcomers bring, the Bobcats know the importance of taking things one step at a time. They need to know how to crawl, then walk, then jog, then run and finally sprint — something Fabbri emphasized.

“The crawl is there, but we’re trying to get up and walk,” Fabbri said. “There’s a good core that’s walking.”

Quinnipiac’s biggest question mark this upcoming season will be how the first years will mesh with the rest of the team with all of the roster turnover.

In the MAAC, eight of the 15 women named to the 2022-23 All-MAAC teams are no longer in the conference. Quinnipiac isn’t any different. Four of its five leading scorers left the team.

Forwards Cur’Tiera Haywood and Mikala Morris transferred to Austin Peay and Kent State, respectively, guard Rose Caverly landed at FAU and forward Mary Baskerville inked a professional contract with BC Pharmaserv Marburg in Germany.

To add to that, guard Rose Caso transferred to Merrimack, guard Makenzie Helms stayed local at Southern Connecticut and 1,000-point club member Mackenzie DeWees graduated and started her post-basketball life.

There will be growing pains for this team, it’s inevitable, but that’s where the veteran presence on the team will prove immensely valuable.

“There’s a standard at Quinnipiac,” junior guard Jackie Grisdale said. “There’s that expectation that no matter who we have on the floor … we’re gonna still be up at the top of the MAAC.”

Grisdale — who was recently named the first solo captain in program history — leads the way for the returners.

“She’s unflappable,” Fabbri said. 

The other returning players are senior Jillian Casey and junior Reiven Douglas, both guards, along with senior Tiera White, junior Grace LaBarge and sophomores Ella O’Donnell and Khadijah Tungo in the front.

All of them have a part to play in ushering in this new generation of Bobcats.

“Even though I have the title of captain, all the upperclassmen are doing something to pull the younger ones along,” Grisdale said.

Out of the returning players, only Douglas, Grisdale and O’Donnell played starting minutes in the past.

From the rotations the team has run at open practices, it’s fair to say this could be the starting five: Kealy/Girardi, Grisdale, LaBarge, O’Donnell and Foley. Kealy/Girardi will play the one, Grisdale the two and so on.

The offense will run through Foley, allowing her to use her strength of distribution to find someone open. Kealy, Grisdale and LaBarge can pop a three while O’Donnell can work the post and also set screens to create open looks.

It’s going to be heavily team oriented, which bodes well for the culture the Bobcats have established.

“I think for all of us (the team) is a family,” Girardi said.

Quinnipiac kicks off its schedule with a home matchup against Maine on Nov. 6. 

From there, the Bobcats have a tough non-conference slate filled with opponents who won conference championships and had postseason success last year. Following the Black Bears, they face Ivy League runner-ups Harvard on Nov. 12, reigning America East champions Vermont later that week on Nov. 17 and Navy and Towson at the Navy Classic immediately after Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 30, Quinnipiac goes toe-to-toe with familiar foe graduate student guard Dee Dee Davis — a two-time All-MAAC first teamer with the Manhattan Jaspers — and her new squad Rhode Island, which made the WNIT Super 16 last year. Rounding out the out-of- conference slate is a tough matchup against Ivy League champs Princeton, Patriot League champions Holy Cross and a local rivalry with Yale on Dec. 30.

The MAAC schedule gets rolling on Dec. 18 with an away matchup against Rider, then fully gets into gear on Jan. 4 with a home matchup against Saint Peter’s. The Bobcats have a rematch against Manhattan — which knocked them out of the MAAC tournament last season — on Jan. 6.

Other highlights include their Jan. 20 and Feb. 22 contests against preseason No. 1 Niagara and Jan. 27 and Feb. 10 match ups against No. 2 Siena. 

It’s overwhelming when listed out, but the Bobcats know to stay present and take each game as it comes.

If Quinnipiac is going to win a lot of games and have a deep run in the playoffs, it needs to play unified and unselfishly. 

The united front starts marching on Monday, Nov. 6 against Maine at 5:30 p.m.

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Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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