Over the next week, the entire country will be practicing how to properly pronounce, “Quinnipiac.”
It’s a name basketball fans should really try to get down, because they’ll be hearing it a lot more often.
Quinnipiac women’s basketball has built a winning culture through head coach Tricia Fabbri that had been well-known throughout Connecticut but not so much outside of it. With two wins in the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament after coming in with zero, the country is beginning to notice another women’s basketball program in The Nutmeg State besides the UConn women.
Fabbri is in her 22nd season of coaching the Bobcats. For the past six years, her teams have compiled at least 20 wins and have been knocking on the door of making noise outside of the MAAC Tournament. Quinnipiac first played in the “Big Dance” in 2013 against No. 4 Maryland and made it back two years later to face No. 5 Oklahoma. In the two trips, the team failed to pull off an upset victory. This time around, the team already has two of those.
Quinnipiac will face its toughest matchup yet on March 25 against top-seeded South Carolina. However, the Bobcats did not seem phased by difficult tests against fifth-seeded Marquette followed by a contest against fourth-seeded Miami that featured a Florida-based crowd that was clearly pro-Hurricanes. The Gamecocks are already without star center Alaina Coates and may also be missing guard Allisha Gray who injured her knee during Sunday’s contest against eighth-seeded Arizona State, a game in which South Carolina barely escaped with a victory.
Regardless of the result of Quinnipiac’s matchup against top-seeded South Carolina, this year’s Bobcats squad has already done an incredible job getting the school’s name into the national spotlight outside of hockey or political polls.
Compare Quinnipiac’s run to fellow MAAC-school Marist and what a Sweet 16 appearance in 2007 did for its program. The Red Foxes took a similar route as the Bobcats, also defeating a fourth seed and a fifth seed to earn a place in the tournament’s third round. From 2007-2014, Marist made an appearance in the NCAA tournament with its highest entry coming in 2008 as a seventh seed. In 2015, Quinnipiac defeated Marist in the MAAC championship game to end a staggering nine year run by the Red Foxes as conference champions. The loss was also Marist’s first in its last 29 conference tournament games.
With Quinnipiac making a name for itself on the national stage, the impact of this season will be felt for years to come. Top-level recruits who are paying a visit to Storrs, Conn. will now stop in Hamden as well. Girls in high school wanting to play for the Huskies under one of the best coaches in the country will now consider donning Bobcat blue and gold to play for a leader who deserves the same respect. In a little over two decades of coaching the Bobcats, Fabbri took a program from a school whose name people struggle to say and is dancing in the Sweet 16.
Quinnipiac University Director of Athletics and Recreation Greg Amodio wants to make Quinnipiac into a force with basketball as much as it is on the ice with hockey. With Amodio willing to pay the new men’s basketball head coach upwards of $800,000 per season, he would do well to remember the women’s coach who has been nothing but consistently successful since the turn of the century. Thanks to Fabbri and her ladies, Quinnipiac is receiving the national attention it deserves as a true mid-major power.
The team is losing just one starter in Adily Martucci to graduation, meaning much of this squad will remain intact for next season with the added experience of having at least two NCAA tournament wins. With the addition of soon-to-be high school graduates who have been inspired by this run, Quinnipiac will just keep getting better. Fabbri now has the ability to sell the school to recruits by not only showing the program’s proven record of conference success, but by highlighting its NCAA tournament achievements as well.
So long as Fabbri continues to coach in Hamden, the sky is the limit for this budding powerhouse. Each season, the bar appears to get higher and higher for these Bobcats, and each season, they seem to reach it.
Better keep working on that pronunciation, folks.