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Dunleavy signs extension, Quinnipiac shows its commitment to basketball

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Dunleavy signs extension, Quinnipiac shows its commitment to basketball

Josh Silverman

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By: Josh Silverman

It’s been just over 18 months since Quinnipiac University hired Baker Dunleavy as its next men’s basketball coach. And a lot has happened since March of 2017.

Dunleavy now has one full season of head coaching experience under his belt, and has welcomed the newest member of the family, his third daughter Reagan, into the world.

He also had a successful first year leading the Bobcats, beginning the turnaround of a program that had been stagnant in years past. His most recent accomplishment, signing a contract extension through the 2022-23 season.

“Obviously I’m very busy and we get a lot of support from family,” Dunleavy said. “It’s great and that’s why it’s fun to coach in a family oriented school. They’re around. They come to games, come to campus and enjoy it as well.”

Dunleavy’s Bobcats went 12-21 (7-11 MAAC) a year ago in his first season. A losing record is certainly not the goal, but an improvement for a program that had tapering success in recent years.

However two wins in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament last March overshadowed it all.

Dunleavy’s extension comes just one year into a five-year contract that he originally signed in 2017.

“It’s funny there’s a little confusion over that,” Dunleavy joked. “So I signed a five year deal when I first got here and then they renewed a new five year deal for me. So starting now I have five years on my contract.”

Dunleavy, a former Villanova assistant under Jay Wright, took over a Quinnipiac team that suffered through a lot of turnover between 2016 and 2017. However, in his first season at the helm he got the most out of his players.

Senior Guard Cameron Young set the franchise record for points in a single season (622) while freshman point guard Rich Kelly earned MAAC All-Rookie team honors.

(Baker Dunleavy (Left) talks with guard Rich Kelly (Right) after team timeout)

The success of the Bobcats last season, which included reaching the MAAC semifinals for just the second time in program history, gave the administration plenty of confidence in Dunleavy.

“It feels great,” Dunleavy explained. “It also shows an understanding of what that process these days needs to be. At the end of the day we felt good about the way we ended last year but we won 12 games. It’s not like we won the league.”

“A lot of times maybe the administration can’t see that the process is going the right way. (Administration) liked the way things are developed. For them to put their faith behind that meant a lot to me,” he said.

After a great year one, the expectations for year two are already rising. Quinnipiac returns Young and Kelly while infusing a stellar recruiting class to add to the core of the young team. However the second year head coach doesn’t believe the expectations are any different.

“Between Greg (Amodio) and myself specifically, we always talk about the journey and we all want to get to the same end result and compete for championships,” Dunleavy said. “That’s why we’re here. But at the same time, understanding that there’s not just a certain number that needs to be attached to it every year. I think we all know we like our young talent on this team and we really like the way some of our new guys got better last year as freshman.”

With the teams schedule set and his contract signed, Dunleavy has his work cut out for him to get his team ready for opening day.

“We had a staff meeting yesterday and talked about what are the things that can make us unique in our league that nobody else does as well as us,” Dunleavy said.  “We want to really pride ourselves on understanding offensively that we’re using each other to get great shots. Not just settling for good shots. How do we use each other, all five guys on the court, to get a great shot?”

“And then defensively, taking pride in being able to keep the ball in front of us and guard the ball. Just the basic fundamentals of the game. If we get too complicated with a young group I think we may skip some steps,” he said. “That’s probably my job in September and October…to make sure we’re focusing on basic fundamentals and we’ll grow from there.”

Quinnipiac opens its 2018-2019 season with a team quite familiar to its head coach. It’s a team that Dunleavy has both coached and played for, a team that is the NCAA defending champions.

The Bobcats travel to face the Villanova Wildcats in Philadelphia on November 10.

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