Baker Dunleavy is focused on the rebuild, not the result

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Ryan Chichester

Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy knew the requirements of his first head coaching gig before he signed on the dotted line. The Bobcats were a team in desperate need of a maker, and after talking to Villanova head coach and former colleague Jay Wright, Dunleavy decided he wanted to be a part of a program from the ground up.

“The biggest thing was making a decision to go somewhere and start a program from kind of a rebuilding mode, or do you want to wait for something that is already created?” Dunleavy said prior to the start of the season. “This is a job where a foundation needed to be laid, but it’s the best job for me.”

Similar to a certain NBA team in Philadelphia who plays just 30 minutes from Dunleavy’s former office at Villanova, Dunleavy is putting his trust in the process, with the current results serving as a minor detail to the bigger picture.

Monday night’s loss to Brown was no exception. The stat sheet was a mess, particularly in the first half. The Bobcats left 14 points on the board due to missed free throws, and committed 12 turnovers in the first half to build an early deficit that a late comeback could not rectify.

Freshman point guard Rich Kelly showed his inexperience in the first half before finding a rhythm on offense in the final 10 minutes of the game. Graduate student Isaiah Washington couldn’t seem to buy a bucket, as multiple shots in the paint seemed to bounce off every square inch of the rim before falling harmlessly into the hands of a Brown defender.

For Dunleavy, missed shots are only frustrating if you continue to obsess over them.

“It can’t be something we talk about too much,” Dunleavy said. “I never want to leave a game saying ‘hey, if we made more shots we would have won.’ That just can’t be our mentality.”

After an inspiring win against Dartmouth on Saturday, the Bobcats were hit in the face with the reality that they just aren’t there yet. For Dunleavy, that’s fine. They’re not supposed to be.

“We did some things tonight that were ugly and looked bad and led to a loss, but we have to continue to judge ourselves based on our mentality,” Dunleavy said after his first loss as a head coach. “Are we open to getting better? Are we open to new ideas? Right now, I think we are.”

The Bobcats showed their ability to improve on Monday night, only it was too little too late. Still, the positives were there.

Kelly committed just one turnover in the second half and kept the ball moving on the offensive end to help the Bobcats turn a 19-point second half deficit into a narrow six-point edge with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Andrew Robinson drilled three triples on four attempts off the bench. Despite some missed free throws, Cameron Young came on strong to contribute 15 points on 50 percent shooting. Chaise Daniels came alive after a slow start himself to lead the team with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting.

The result was still a loss to a team who was without their leading scorer due to injury, but Dunleavy chooses to look past the scoreboard. Wins and losses are currently secondary to the process of improvement.

“We’re going to find things to learn from in wins and losses,” Dunleavy said after the game. “It’s two games into the year. We’re not overly concerned about score or record, but how we’re doing things.”

Dunleavy looked up to the scoreboard on Monday night and didn’t see a loss. He saw a progress report, listing where his Bobcats need to improve and where they showed signs of growth. At this point in the Bobcat rebuild, as long as the report shows progress, it’s a win in Dunleavy’s eyes.

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