Barron hole on defense

Absence of Defensive Player of the Year felt

By on January 29, 2014

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team was expected to experience some growing pains when moving conferences, but perhaps its biggest adjustment has to be the loss of one of the program’s best-developed guards.

A year after running the table in the Northeast Conference and advancing to the NCAA Tournament, the Bobcats find themselves in fourth place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, 3 ½ games behind conference-leading Iona and 2 ½ games behind Marist, which has won the MAAC eight years in a row.

The Bobcats weren’t going to post a 30-3 record like they did last year, especially given their tougher schedule. This season, Quinnipiac has faced last year’s national runner-up Louisville, defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Tennessee-Martin, America East champion Albany and Atlantic 10 champion Saint Joseph’s. Last year, the Bobcats played St. John’s and Hartford, whom they also played this year.

The MAAC is a much more challenging conference, especially compared to the NEC. Based on RPI, the MAAC posts two teams–Iona and Marist–in the top 50, Quinnipiac checking in at No. 70. St. Francis (N.Y.) is the NEC’s top team based on RPI with a ranking of 96, and the next-best team’s ranking at 172.

But beyond the strength of schedule or RPI is how the team plays on the court, and there is a noticeable difference with the absence of Felicia Barron, a two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Barron was a tremendous defender for Quinnipiac, tightly guarding some of the NEC’s best players. She ranked fourth in the country last year in steals per game (3.61) and second in the country two years ago. With Barron starting in each of the 33 games last year and Gillian Abshire’s play at point guard, Quinnipiac posted a Division I-best +8.55 turnover margin.

This year, Quinnipiac still ranks high in turnover margin, placing 30th and leading all MAAC teams with a +4.19 margin. But compared to last season, Barron is irreplaceable.

Only once this season has any Quinnipiac player recorded at least five steals in a game. Barron did that 10 times last year. Two years ago, she posted a double-double with 16 points and 12 steals, a program Division I single-game record.

She shattered the program Division I record for career steals, recording 95 more than Brianna Rooney, who has the second-most. As a team last year, the Bobcats averaged 12.4 steals per game, sixth in the country, compared to the No. 119 ranking this season.

To say the least, Barron is missed. She was the catalyst for last season’s championship team, and it has been difficult for Quinnipiac to adjust without her.

Quinnipiac still controls the ball well, averaging 16.3 assists per game. The Bobcats are one of the more potent rebounding teams in the MAAC, leading the conference in rebounds and ranking second in rebound margin. They still score a lot, averaging the second-most points in the conference.

But without Barron, Quinnipiac has allowed nearly 10 more points per game, a testament not only to the tougher schedule, but also to how much the Bobcats miss Barron’s tenacious defense.

Comments

About Matt Eisenberg

Senior Managing Editor
Email: editor@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @matteisenberg42
Year: 2014
Major: Print journalism