Quinnipaic’s experience compared to the rest of the MAAC will be the difference in 2016-17


Josh Silverman

Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Josh Silverman

The Quinnipiac Bobcats enter the 2016-2017 season with a team full of familiar faces, unlike their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foes.

The Quinnipiac Bobcats graduated only one player from their 2015-2016 regular season championship lineup who played significant, guard Maria Napolitano. She led the team in points and played the third most minutes. Napolitano was a fundamental part of the Bobcats success last season. With her stout play and leadership she helped the Bobcats lead the conference in points per game, scoring margin and blocked shots.

Napolitano was a force to be reckoned with on defense, as she helped the Bobcats hold 16 conference opponents under 60 points, including two under 50. Napolitano, being the only starter that graduated, was a big reason Quinnipaic was picked first in the MAAC preseason coaches poll.

Looking ahead, the Bobcats are getting back redshirt-sophomore Jen Fay from injury. Fay didn’t play last year because she tore her ACL. As a freshman in 2014, Fey scored 124 points in just 418 minutes. She is a player the Bobcats can’t wait to have in their lineup.

Another reason Quinnipiac was picked to finish first in the conference is the system that they run, the gold rush. The gold rush refers to the type of substitutions that Quinnipiac runs. Instead of subbing in one player for another, they sub out all five starters and sub in five different players. With great coaching and tremendous depth, they are able to run this efficiently and make sure its players are well rested.

Through this system, the Bobcats had nine players score above 100 points last season while Marist only had six and Iona had five. This season, the Bobcats have the ability to repeat that success. Eight of those nine players are returning, along with Fey coming back and an incoming freshman class.

The Iona Gaels are the reigning MAAC champions, but they face an uphill battle to defend their crown. Iona lost one of their best players in program history, Joy Adams. Adams finished her 2015-2016 campaign with the most points and rebounds on her team. Adams finished with so many rebounds, 374, that she accounted for six more than the other four starters combined. Her dominance is why the Gaels finished the season first in rebound margin. Adams scored 11 points in the final game of the MAAC Tournament as she helped Iona defeat Quinnipiac.

Iona will also miss Aaliyah Robinson, who finished her senior season fourth on the team in points. She was especially dominant in the playoffs, as she scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. The Gaels have big shoes to fill, but they have the tools to do it.

The Gaels are returning senior guard Marina Lizarazu. An all star, Lizarazu was  unanimously named MAAC preseason player of the year and was the 2015-2016 MAAC Tournament MVP. Lizarazu, a senior, finished second on the team in points last season. She recorded 19 points in the MAAC championship game, which was the most on either team.

The Gaels are also returning reigning sixth player of the year Alexis Lewis, who finished third on the team in points despite only starting three games. Although she came off the bench, she averaged 22.6 minutes. She now has the experience and talent to keep Iona a contender for the top team in the conference. These two will certainly challenge the Bobcats for the conference title.

The Marist Red Foxes will dearly miss the 2015-2016 MAAC player of the year Tori Jarosz, who finished with a league leading 545 points. She personally lead the conference in five different statistical categories. The Red Foxes graduated their top two scorers, Jarosz and Sydney Coffey. The duo combined for 1,008 points, 53 percent of their total points.

If Marist is going to make noise in the conference they are going to have to recover those points, and junior Allie Clement is the person to make it happen. She finished third on the team in points and with Jarosz and Coffey gone she will be the playmaker they turn to when the game is on the line.

After coming up short in the playoffs last season, the Bobcats are the favorite to win the MAAC. Sophomore’s Paula Strautmane and Aryn McClure, the latter being MAAC Rookie of the Year, look to dominate the conference again. With Marist and Iona both losing their top scorers, it will be hard for either of them to challenge Quinnipiac for the conference title.