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Runnin’ the Point: A busy, positive offseason for Quinnipiac basketball
Even though the teams ended last season at different points, both squads had successful 2017-18 campaigns. Men’s head coach Baker Dunleavy led the Bobcats to the MAAC semifinals despite being picked to finish last in the preseason. After a perfect conference regular season, the women’s team won the MAAC Tournament and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The successful seasons led to eventful offseasons filled with staff and roster changes.
April 21 – The offseason began early, as Quinnipiac women’s basketball associate head coach Mountain MacGillivray was named head coach at La Salle University. MacGillivray was a key cog in the Quinnipiac recruiting system – he helped land the four highest-ranked recruits in program history in junior Vanessa Udoji, senior Aryn McClure, redshirt senior Jen Fay and Sarah Shewan (‘17).
“I can’t overstate what he’s meant to the improvement of this program and the impact he’s had on my life,” Fabbri said in La Salle’s press release. “I’m proud to have had him as a colleague and privileged to call him a friend.”
April 30 – Moving to the men’s side, incoming freshman guard Savion Lewis was named New York State Class AA Player of the Year. Class AA is the highest division in New York high school basketball, and some of the players he won the award over are heading to schools like UCLA, Illinois and George Mason. Lewis averaged 33.5 points per game in 2017-18, and he was also named New York’s prestigious Mr. Basketball by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York.
“Savion is a fast, skilled guard with great toughness,” Dunleavy said in a press release. “We look forward to the impact of his energy and character on our program and in our community.”
May 22 – To replace MacGillivray, women’s basketball head coach Tricia Fabbri added Brian Wilson as an assistant coach. Wilson spent the last nine years as head coach at Connecticut College (DIII). Before that, he was the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at the College of Holy Cross and the team made two NCAA Tournament appearances during his tenure.
May 31 – The biggest news of the summer was also the biggest surprise of the summer. Men’s basketball guard Cam Young — who led the Bobcats at 18.8 PPG — was granted a fifth year of eligibility to play at Quinnipiac. Young played two years of junior college ball before coming to Hamden in 2016-17. That year, though, he played just eight total minutes. That junior season is why Young was granted the fifth year.
“Excited to have @babykolt (Cam Young) with our program for another year! #HumbleAndHungry,” Dunleavy tweeted after the news broke.
June 21 – Less than a month after Young was confirmed to return, the men’s team lost one of its other starting guards in Isaiah Washington. Washington, who averaged 8.3 PPG and started 33 games in his first and only season in Hamden, leaves with one year of eligibility left to work for Merrill Lynch in Pennsylvania.
“Isaiah has been a leader by example from the moment he stepped on campus,” Dunleavy said, via Q30. “His selflessness, consistent effort and mature outlook were instrumental in us improving throughout last season. We are proud of his contributions to our basketball program and university, and he will continue to make us proud with his MBA in the professional world.”
June 26 – Edel Thornton competed for Team Ireland in the 2018 FIBA Women’s European Championship for Small Countries from June 26 through July 1 in Cork, Ireland. The team played five games, going 2-3, and Thornton started each contest. She scored her tournament-high — 14 points — in a dominant 102-28 win over Moldova.
“Her depth of understanding of the game has significantly improved, even in the last 12 months,” Team Ireland assistant coach Francis O’Sullivan told the Irish Examiner. “She’s grounded in a culture that is high achieving, the college and the coach have gone to another level and she’s been integral to that fantastic story.”
July 12 – Former women’s basketball guard Carly Fabbri (‘18) was nominated for 2017-18 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, an award for graduated student-athletes. The selection guidelines include categories of academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership and a personal statement, according to NCAA.org. Last season, Fabbri averaged 9.6 PPG and was a Third-Team All-MAAC selection. She graduated with a 3.9 GPA as a physician assistant major.
July 20 – The women’s basketball team released its non-conference schedule. The season kicks off on Nov. 9 at Drexel, but dates with Providence, Central Michigan and Central Florida highlight the first part of the season. Quinnipiac is also entered in the Gulf Coast Showcase, a regular season tournament set to be played in Estero, Florida from Nov. 23-25. High-major programs like Duke, Texas and Michigan are all entered, but the Bobcats’ opponents are yet to be unveiled. Tricia Fabbri has often stated how she wants to play the best teams to prepare her squad for conference play, and it appears she has accomplished that yet again this season.
Aug. 15 – The men’s basketball non-conference schedule was released in July as well, but the complete schedule dropped in mid-August. A date with defending national champion Villanova on Nov. 10 begins Dunleavy’s second season as head coach. The home opener is set for Nov. 15 against Hartford. Quinnipiac will also participate in the 2018 Hall of Fame Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena, where it will battle Drexel on Dec. 16. This year’s schedule is obviously an increase in difficulty from last season with Villanova on tap. Much of last year’s opponents were already set in stone before Dunleavy was hired, so this was his first real chance to craft the schedule he wanted.
Aug. 20 – The last major piece of basketball news came in the final weeks of summer. Dunleavy agreed to a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2022-23 season. The Bobcats were just 12-21 last season, but appear to be headed in the right direction after a deep MAAC Tournament run and with the addition of some highly-touted freshmen. Dunleavy has this program on the rise, and don’t be shocked if you see the Bobcats play their way into upper echelon of the MAAC this season.
So, there you have it. It was an eventful “offseason,” and it’s not over yet. There’s still just over two months until the season tips off, but both teams will soon be back on the practice court for preseason activities.
With the way things are currently looking, this year could be one of the best in Quinnipiac basketball history, as both teams are realistically expected to compete for MAAC titles. November can’t come soon enough.