Opinion: An historic, but unnoticed run for women’s basketball

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After a heartbreaking loss versus Monmouth in the Northeast Conference semifinals last March, Quinnipiac women’s basketball coach Tricia Fabbri had one message for her squad.

“We’ll be back,” she said amidst the tears in the locker room.

More than 20 games into the next season and just two losses later, the Bobcats are back. And they are most certainly here to stay.

The 2012-13 women’s team brings a level of depth that no Quinnipiac team has perhaps ever experienced. After losing just two seniors following last season, this year’s team has bounced back with unimaginable levels of depth and consistency. Three players (Jasmine Martin, Felicia Barron and Brittany McQuain) are averaging more than double-digits in points. Six players are shooting more than 40 percent from the field. And it’s leaving open a possibility that no Quinnipiac basketball team, men or women, has ever experienced.

“I really firmly believe that we do have a great opportunity to be playing in a [conference] championship game on March 17 with the opportunity to cut down the net and represent the Northeast Conference in the NCAA tournament.” Fabbri said.

But where is the love on the Quinnipiac campus? The team has been one of the most consistent squads the school has had all year, and perhaps ever. They hold an average margin of victory of more than 17 points per game. Regardless of their success (which some would argue rivals that of the men’s hockey team considering the field of the respective sports), their games are overshadowed and largely unattended by students.

Where is the respect? The women find themselves ranked 12th in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major poll. They are the only two-loss team outside of the top 5.  Meanwhile, a coach in her 18th season, now with more than 250 wins at the school under her belt, is in line for her first ever NCAA tournament berth. She is in position for her second consecutive 20-win season, a feat that is impressive for any head coach in basketball. And moreover, she is universally loved by her team.

“We absolutely love our coach. I know this would mean a lot to her,” McQuain said. “I can’t wait until that last game when we see the final score and we win, and she knows that she coached us into that victory and she gets to go to the NCAA. It’s going to be awesome.”

Ultimately, none of that is important for this team though. They are focused, and understand that the prize is not respect and admiration, but instead, a trip to go dancing.

“Anything that we want to achieve is possible,” junior forward Camryn Warner said. “We’ve had our eye on the NCAA tournament since I was a freshman. I definitely think with the way this year has gone so far, if we stay hungry and play the way we’ve been playing, it’s definitely a possibility.”

While Warner and other members of the team are confident but cautious about their NCAA hopes, others are not as reluctant to hide their true feelings as to whether they’ll make the tournament or not.

“I guarantee it,” Martin said with a smile. “You can guarantee it.”

With the way this Bobcats team is built, with the way this Bobcats team believes and with the way this Bobcats team plays, there is no reason to doubt that there will be dancing in Hamden come March 17.

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Opinion: An historic, but unnoticed run for women’s basketball