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‘Herd’ you beast

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Josh Silverman

“Heard You Beast.”

A phrase that became popular about a year ago, it’s a fun way of recognizing someone’s accomplishments and achievements.

The last month has been full of these for Quinnipiac women’s basketball sophomore guard Taylor Herd.

Thrust into the starting lineup after an injury to Vanessa Udoji in early December, Herd has quickly become one of the programs key performers.

“Obviously I had a heavy heart when (Udoji) went down,” Herd said. “You obviously don’t want to get your minutes that way but it happens. It’s the game so you just prepare and practice through everything because you never know what will happen.”

Herd played sparingly her freshman year, mostly getting minutes after the game was out of reach. She put up a total of six shots last year, and went into the offseason knowing she wanted to see the court more in her second year in Hamden.

“She dedicated herself in the offseason and was up both summer sessions,” head coach Tricia Fabbri said. “She’s very determined, driven and knows what she wants; and that’s to be out on the floor.”

“Last year she didn’t have the opportunity. She made her mind up at the end of last season that she was going to put every ounce of effort into making sure she was going to put herself into a position to earn an opportunity to get out onto the floor,” Fabbri said.

As it almost always does, hard work paid off.

Herd has become a cornerstone of the Bobcats team since she joined the starting lineup on Dec. 3 against Hampton. The sophomore guard has climbed her way up the stat sheet and is already fifth on the team in points, despite playing half the minutes of her teammate Carly Fabbri, who currently leads the team in minutes.

Fabbri, a senior, is the starting point guard. In her role, she can see the value Herd brings to the lineup.

“She’s a real sharpshooter,” Fabbri said. “She pulls people out of zones and forces pressure because we obviously have Jen (Fay), Aryn (McClure) and even Paula (Strautmane) out there so it forces the teams to really have to be spread out on the personnel side.”

The sharpshooter aspect of Herd’s game cannot be understated.

Before she joined the lineup, the team’s highest three-point percentage in a single game was 37.5 percent. Since Herd found the starting five, Quinnipiac has five games in which it has shot over 40 percent from behind the arc.

Of players with over 35 attempts from that range, Herd currently sits at third on the team in three-point percentage (35.7%).

Jen Fay, who has attempted the most shots from behind the arc and has been to known to pull up from all over the court, appreciates how hard Herd works on her shot.

“I think it’s awesome to see her consistency and hard work really coming into play,” Fay said. “She’s always in the gym after games working on her shot and if she’s open she’s going to shoot.”

For her coach, it’s not the shots that impresses her the most, but how Herd has been able to grow as a player.

“She was obviously put into that position abruptly, and came out firing and has been stroking the ball for us,” Fabbri said. “What I like is how the other parts of her game are just getting better.

Her coach’s praise doesn’t come unjustified.

Herd’s rebounding ability has improved, exhibited by 48 rebounds in her 289 minutes on the court, best for fifth on the team. However Herd wants to continue working to protect the glass.

“I definitely want to be that three point shooter for our team especially at the two position and also get those defensive rebounds,” Herd said. “I’m a little taller than some of the guards I play so I try to fill that gap too.”

One thing her teammates harped on was the confidence that Herd displays both on and off the court.

It can be rare to find a player who was recently thrust into a starting lineup to display confidence.

It’s even more special when you find a player who not only does that, but also instills it in her teammates.

“She’s really upped her game with a couple starts under her belt. She’s gained that confidence,” the starting point guard said. “It’s fun to have her out there getting her confidence up and she really adds another dimension to this team.

And Fay echoed Fabbri’s message.

“Awesome teammate, a great person both on and off the court and she’s always instilling confidence,” Fay said. “If someone misses a few shots she’s always telling them to go shoot the next one.”

Yet the highest praise came from her coach, who relishes at the player Herd is becoming right before her eyes.

“We needed someone to ring the bell quickly and she wasn’t shy,” the head coach said. “She has a great mindset and a real mental toughness about her. She just took the reigns and was ready. Now you can see her blossom other parts of her game.”

The Quinnipiac women’s basketball team is rolling right now.

It has won 10 in a row, and 15 of its last 17 games.

Most of the recent wins have come against conference opponents, who the Bobcats usually beat, but Quinnipiac’s ceiling is sky high.

However the question still remains: with only 13 starts under her belt and two more years of eligibility, what is Herd’s ceiling?

“I don’t even know what it is,” Fabbri said. “Obviously, with her shooing game that’s only going to get better but then you add that skill set of attacking and getting to the basket. I think you’re going to see a lot of great things out of her in the coming years.”

Her fellow guard had nothing but praise, but Herd thinks she’s still far removed from her ceiling as a player.

“Hopefully it’s way up there,” Herd said. “I think I’m still trying to find it. There are some games where I have my game shooting and other games I have to make up for it in other areas. Hopefully one of these games it just all comes together and clicks.”

Herd’s teammates and coaches believe in her, and she is developing with each and every game.

Quinnipiac still has nine conference games left, and the main storyline may be if it can stay undefeated in MAAC play. But do not let the uprising of the sophomore guard go unnoticed.

Heard you beast.

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