Hamden, CT -- Despite losing their first game of the 2015-16 season to Army, the Quinnipiac Bobcats have done their fair share of winning over the past few seasons. The team is coming off a 31-win season last year that included going undefeated in Metro Athletic Atlantic Conference play (20-0).
The Bobcats are the second-winningest program in New England among Division I teams since the 2011-2012 season. Quinnipiac has won 105 games during that stretch, and have compiled a .772 win percentage that ranks only behind national power UConn.
With the players on every college team always changing from year to year, the one constant in many of the elite programs across the country is their coach. The Bobcats are no different.
Quinnipiac Head Coach Tricia Fabbri is coaching in her 21st season, and is a big reason why the program in Hamden, Conn. has continued to build on the success they've had.
Fabbri has led the Bobcats to four straight 20-win seasons, including four straight trips to a national postseason tournament. Quinnipiac has appeared in the NCAA Tournament twice in the past three seasons under Fabbri, the only times the program has made it into the Big Dance.
Fabbri was named unanimous MAAC Coach of the Year last season after her team became the first in MAAC history to finish a season 20-0 in conference play. The way the Bobcats play under Fabbri is, to say the least, unique. Fabbri subs in five players at a time, known has her "Gold Rush" strategy.
Fabbri says depth is something that she has always tried to focus on.
"I think (the depth we have) is what's really interesting about what we do with our style of play," Fabbri said. "We get 15 full scholarships, and we want to recruit to that and utilize that. We want to play uptempo and really stretch the court. You see us pressing the whole game, you see us taking two minutes turns."
Fabbri says her teams' depth is really a huge key, because of how fast they want to play on both ends of the floor.
"Were in great shape, but these kids get tired because we want to go up and down the court so fast," Fabbri said. Saying you want to play fast, and actually doing it are two different things. Those numbers are really important to us, so I think that's what's really interesting about our program here: the style and number that we use and how we play. It just wears people down."
Fabbri says having the ability to do play uptempo and substitute the way she does is what she likes best about her program at Quinnipiac. The "Gold Rush" strategy also gives a lot of players time on the court, which is beneficial for a team that is as young as the one Fabbri has this season.
Fabbri's Bobcats are now 1-1 on the season after holding of Hartford in overtime in their home-opener. After the game against the Hawks, Fabbri said she saw some similarities between this year's team and teams in past years.
"I just think at this point in the season we have a real lack of rhythm offensively," Fabbri said. "I was looking at film from this time last year, and it looked pretty much like the same thing. We're just a heck of a lot younger, trying to figure this out while working together. It continues to look more like basketball. It continues to look more like Quinnipiac basketball."
Finding that offensive rhythm and cohesiveness will come with time. The older players on the team are definitely doing their part to help the process. Senior Maria Napolitano missed Thursday's game against Hartford with an ankle injury, but was the one coaching her team in the huddle before overtime began.
"It's been great," Fabbri said about her senior captain Napolitano. "Her voice is a big voice for us. It's one that everyone needs to hear. It makes us all feel confident, and that was really important for us to hear all day at practice, and all day on the bench. (Napolitano) talking to everybody is really important to us."
Despite having great older players like Napolitano, senior captain Katie Carroll, and junior captain Adily Martucci, Fabbri says her young team will get better as the season goes on as they go through things and gain experience. Fabbri says the experience her players got from the overtime win against Hartford is very valuable.
"We need time and game experience to be put into those situations and then figure out ways to win them," Fabbri said. "I think psychologically the confidence you get from a win is really important. Just being in those situations, gaining that experience and then coming out with success, is really going to go a real long way for us with this new team."