Column: Women’s basketball team could benefit from Cinderella effect

By on March 29, 2017
IMG_0204Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Bobcats’ magical run through the women’s NCAA Tournament came to an end on Saturday in Stockton, California. The Bobcats were one of the final 16 teams still standing before a physically-dominant South Carolina team beat them, thus closing the book on the most memorable season in Quinnipiac basketball history.

While their unexpected splash in the tournament may have subsided, the ripples of their historic run may still be felt in the future here in Hamden.

Quinnipiac’s pair of unlikely wins in the tournament caught the attention of fans and experts around the country. ESPN made the trip down to Lender Court to film a feature on a small school overshadowed by Sleeping Giant State Park, which conquered a pair of giants in the NCAA Tournament. The best coach in the business, UConn’s Geno Auriemma, proudly sported a Quinnipiac t-shirt prior to the Bobcats’ Sweet 16 matchup with the Gamecocks. We also saw plenty of on-air talents at ESPN finally clear up how to properly pronounce the school’s name.

If you don’t think all of this matters for the school as a whole, think again. We’ve seen the positive impact a lovable underdog can have on students and fans of the game. If you want proof, look no further than Quinnipiac’s first opponent of the season, Florida Gulf Coast University. Back in 2013, its men’s team made an unbelievable run in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed, knocking off national juggernauts like Georgetown along the way. The school’s website generated more than 100,000 unique visitors, which tripled its normal quota, according to Bloomberg.com. The following year, Florida Gulf Coast received an unreal 27.5 percent boost in applications from students wanting to join the university and experience some magic for themselves.

Of course, fair or not, the men’s basketball tournament receives much higher exposure and viewership than the women’s tournament, so don’t expect application numbers to see that type of astronomical spike. The point is that people cling to Cinderella stories, and Quinnipiac just provided the most feel-good tale of the tournament.

IMG_0349Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

This effect may also be felt in recruitment as well. Nothing helps recruiting more than winning on a national stage, and while head coach Tricia Fabbri has already done an amazing job at bringing in quality talent to a mid-major school tucked away in the mountains of Connecticut, her pitch to possible recruits has become a lot stronger after the past two weeks.

After the way Fabbri and her squad remained poised in the first round of the tournament when Marquette was storming back into the game, or how the team nailed countless huge shots to keep Miami at arm’s length during the final minutes of their second round win, who wouldn’t want to don the Quinnipiac blue and gold?

Senior Adily Martucci called her time at Quinnipiac “the best five years of her life” after Saturday’s loss. Her leadership and production will be sorely missed next season, but her performance in the tournament and her words afterward may provide a new wave of talent in the coming seasons.

The joyride may be over for the Bobcats, but the program and the student body may feel the benefits of their success come next season.

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