Leading the pack – How the Bobcats are taking on a new leadership style


Photo: Liz Flynn

Steven McAvoy

In 2016, Taylor Herd, Paige Warfel, & Jaden Ward joined the pack.

Over four years in the gameday gold, they went undefeated twice in the MAAC, won three straight MAAC championships, and went to three NCAA tournaments, one of them ending with a Sweet 16 run.

By graduation in 2020, they went from newcomers to den leaders.

Now, with the Bobcats of yesteryear heading into the wild, Tricia Fabbri has a new challenge on her hands: finding her new leaders. Even in a preseason full of uncertainty, with the opportunity present, the new look Bobcats are pouncing on it.

“We were able to put two [first-years] in with upperclassmen which is something I’ve never done in 26 years at QU,” Fabbri said “That naturally and organically grew the leadership of the upperclassmen.”

“It’s very organic leadership from not only our [seniors] but sophomores and juniors as well,” Fabbri said.

At the head of the pack has been junior guard Shaq Edwards and fifth year Vanessa Udoji, the latter of whom hasn’t seen significant action since early 2017.

“Shaq’s been up the earliest,” Fabbri said. “It’s six in the morning and she’s continued to put in work in different ways, watching the team and dissecting herself and individual players. She’s in great shape.”

As for Udoji, she has missed the last two seasons due to injury. Fabbri feels her experience and health are going to pay major dividends for the Bobcats this season.

“We’re a different team [without her] and it impacted us in a negative way [last season],” Fabbri said. “Having her this year, the leadership has been fantastic. “She’s a natural-born leader and physically looks phenomenal. It’s been awesome to have her back healthy and competing.”

Aside from the leadership, Fabbri has to replace a senior unit responsible for roughly 23 points, 19 boards, and four assists per game.

To do that, she’s relying on her first years as well as the team’s overall versatility to get the job done. Those newcomers Jill Casey, Haley Smith, Nazarene Williams and Tierra White

“We’ve been able to fill needs across the board and they [first years] have an ability to shoot and be quick across the floor,” Fabbri said. “It’s a trademark of our players that they aren’t one-trick ponies. Their basketball IQ is great, they’re smart and make very good decisions.”

2020 hasn’t been easy. The inability to hit the ground running early in the summer has put the Bobcats behind schedule.

Even with the hiccup, Fabbri says the team has been able to stay creative, put in work early, keep each other accountable, and always come in ready to take the next step.

“It’s going to sound cliche, but we’re taking it a day at a time,” Fabbri said. “Our returning players came back really fit; it didn’t take a lot for them to get ready. It was be ready, not get ready, and these young ladies really took to heart what it’s going to take to get ready and get going.”

“They have great chemistry and they’ve taken so much pride in helping the first years,” Fabbri said. “Last year we were very young, and we’re still young, but after what the league graduated and what we have coming back, we’re primed.”

With the 2020-21 season ready to begin in November, Fabbri is excited for what is to come.

“We have a nice group of counted experienced leadership,” Fabbri said. “We have some magic brewing.”