The Quinnipiac University women's basketball team begins its 2009-10 season Saturday afternoon at 4:30 at the University of Hartford. The Bobcats and Hawks will meet at Chase Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion in West Hartford, Conn., in a game that can be seen live on the New England Sports Network (NESN). The contest is the season opener for both teams.
Scouting the Hawks
Hartford was picked to finish second in the America East Preseason Coaches' Poll with four first-place votes. Vermont, last season's America East Champion, was picked first with five first-place votes. Quinnipiac defeated both teams last season by double-digit margins. Senior forwards Dianna Delva and Erica Beverly were tabbed as members of the preseason all-conference team. Delva scored 30 points at the TD Bank Sports Center in the Bobcats' 73-61 victory on Dec. 3. The Hawks will open the season with six straight nonconference games on their home floor for the first time in the 10-year tenure of head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. Following the Bobcats will be last season's national runner-up Louisville making its way to West Hartford on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
Everywhere You Turn, There's The Game
Saturday's game can be seen live on NESN. Bill Schweitzer will provide play-by-play with Bill Mecca adding color commentary and Rich Coppola reporting from the sidelines. The Bobcats Sports Network AM 1220 WQUN will also carry the game. Paul Pacelli will handle the play-by-play duties with former Quinnipiac men's basketball assistant coach Bob Tipson adding color analysis.
Preseason Pick 'Em
The Bobcats were picked to finish fifth in the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll. Quinnipiac finished the 2008-09 season tied for third in the NEC standings with an 11-7 record in conference play and 18-11 overall. Defending champion Sacred Heart was tabbed first in the poll, receiving nine of the 12 first-place votes
This year's senior class will feature four members of the Bobcats. Fifth-year senior Kathleen Neyens (Jaffrey, N.H.) will lead the team, bringing an inside-outside game and veteran leadership to the team. Fellow seniors Krystal Lazos (Medford, N.J.) and Sarah McGowan (Red Lion, Pa.) will add experience and grit off the bench throughout the season. Megan Barnum (Stormville, N.Y.) will be part of the team for the fourth season, but will not see action this season as she recovers from injury.
Redshirt junior Courtney Kaminski (Dudley, Mass.) will rejoin the Bobcats' lineup after missing all of last season with an injury. In her last full season in 2007-08, Kaminski sparked Quinnipiac with 8.7 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game in nearly 22 minutes of action per contest. Kaminski will be joined by Mia Picillo (Derry, N.H.), Alyssa Jann (Westford, Mass.), Lailah Pratt (Palmyra, N.J.) and Ashley Adams (Tolland, Conn.) as members of the Bobcats' junior class.
Sophomores Jacki Mann (Rutherford, N.J.), Jacinda Dunbar (Edison, N.J.) and Brittany Capozziello (Fairfield, Conn.) and redshirt freshman Felicia Barron (Springfield, Mass.) will make up the four members of the Bobcats in their second season. Barron was limited to just eight games last season before sustaining a season-ending injury. In those eight games, Barron's defensive play and floor management helped Quinnipiac to a 7-1 mark. Coming off the bench in her first season, she averaged 7.0 points per game and had 19 steals, including tying a Quinnipiac Division I record with seven in the first game of the season at Stony Brook on Nov. 14. Dunbar worked her way into the starting lineup midway through last year, while Mann will be one of Coach Fabbri's top reserves this season.
Welcome To The Team
Four new members of the Bobcats will make their Quinnipiac debut Saturday in West Hartford. Guards Lisa Lebak (Robbinsville, N.J.) and Ryann Simmons (Norwalk, Conn.) will help with the transition into a new era after Erin Kerner, Mandy Pennewell and Brianna Rooney all graduated after last season. Shelby Sferra (LaGrangeville, N.Y.) will add depth at the forward position, while Robin Keke (Bowie, Md.) will spend the season learning the system before joining the Bobcats' front court as a true center in 2010-11.
Head Coach Tricia Fabbri is five wins shy of 200 career victories. Entering her 15th season on the Quinnipiac sidelines, Fabbri posts a 195-196 record entering the season. After a rebuilding process to begin her time at Quinnipiac, Fabbri has posted a winning record overall in seven consecutive seasons and nine straight winning seasons in conference play.
The 2008-09 season ended in heartbreaking fashion for the No. 3 Bobcats in the first round of the Northeast Conference Tournament. After fighting back to tie Monmouth late in the second half, Quinnipiac's comeback fell just short as a last-second attempt by senior Erin Kerner was stolen cutting to the lane to try and tie the game. Monmouth held on for the 69-67 win, ending the Bobcats' season with an 18-11 mark.
Last Time Out
Quinnipiac owns an 11-7 all-time series against Hartford. The two teams met last year for the first time since the 2003-04 season. The Bobcats took an early lead and never looked back as they held on for the 12-point win, 73-61, at the TD Bank Sports Center in a game that was also seen live on NESN.
Quinnipiac will begin its season with two nonconference road games at Hartford and Providence, two teams that the Bobcats defeated last season. They will then return for the home opener against New Hampshire on Nov. 29 before taking on St. Bonaventure on Dec. 2. Quinnipiac will play in two regular-season tournaments in 2009-10 with the first coming at Brown on Dec. 5 and 6 against Morgan State and either the tournament hosts or UMass. The second tournament will take place over the winter break in Coral Gables, Fla., at the University of Miami Holiday Tournament against Texas, Central Michigan and Miami. Sandwiched between the two tournaments are three nonconference home games against Vanderbilt, Maine and Yale in mid December before beginning NEC play Jan. 2 at Monmouth.
New Face On The Bench
Mountain MacGillivray joins the Quinnipiac coaching staff after a two-year stint at the University of New Hampshire. During the 2008-09 season, he served as the recruiting coordinator for the Wildcats. He fills the coaching position vacated by Kara Cassidy, who joined the coaching staff at the University of Pennsylvania. He will join Tom Blake and Helen Ridley on Fabbri's staff.
Milestone Tracker No. 2
Neyens is just one rebound shy of the 400th of her career entering the 2009-10 season. After a year off, Kaminski needs just one steal to reach 50 in her career and is 14 rebounds away from 300. Mann is four points away from 100 after scoring 96 during her freshman season as one of the team's top players off the bench.
The Bobcats finished the season as the league leaders in steals per game in the conference. Quinnipiac recorded 287 steals this season for an average of 9.90 a game. The 287 was three less than Saint Francis' season toal in three fewer games.
Give Aways And Take Aways
Quinnipiac's turnover margin of +3.62 was the highest in the NEC last season. The Bobcats averaged 16.7 turnovers a game as a team, while causing opponents to commit 20.3 a contest. Wagner was second with a +1.28 figure.
Second Half 'Cats
Quinnipiac's mantra all of the 2008-09 season was putting teams away with solid second-half play. The Bobcats outscored their opponents by just a total of six points in the first half all season, 845-839. In the second period, Quinnipiac bested its competition by 97-total points, 1,032- 935, over the course of the season.