With plenty still unknown, Quinnipiac men’s basketball takes the court


Photo: Quinnipiac Athletics

Baker Dunleavy media availability | Jon Surratt

Story by Jacob Resnick

The summer months, though well-removed from the college basketball regular season, are some of the busiest for a head coach.

Hours of on-court sessions dedicated to conditioning and skill development. Trips to the AAU circuit to meet potential recruits. Staff meetings to figure out how the program can improve before the fall. The common thread — face-to-face interactions.

Baker Dunleavy has spent his summers around college basketball for the better part of the past two decades. None, understandably, can compare to April through August of 2020, where the definition of normalcy became regular Zoom sessions and securing commitments from incoming first-years before they had stepped foot on campus.

“We’re used to being in our office in the summers,” Dunleavy, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball head coach, said on Tuesday. “We’re used to being in here, in the gym, working with these guys. I just missed being on the court, looking after these guys’ development, building our relationship and bond as a team.

“We’re excited to be back together right now and I think we have a better appreciation for that than we ever have.”

The 2020-21 Bobcats took the court as a team for the first time last week and have engaged in socially distant workouts as the entire Quinnipiac community adjusts to the health and safety protocols.

Despite not even having a start date for the upcoming season, Dunleavy said coordinated communication is the key to traversing such a challenge.

“Trusting the plan and trusting people that know more than me,” he said. “A big part of my job is to show our players hope and a path to — “OK maybe we’re not there yet but here’s where we should be” — kind of that light at the end of the tunnel that we’ve been missing for a long time.”

As Quinnipiac looks to improve on a .500 record in MAAC play in 2019-20, its roster features a noticeable lack of upperclassmen with significant game experience. Jacob Rigoni (94) and Tyrese Williams (61) are the only Bobcats with at least 60 games (about two full seasons) under their belts.

Athletic guards Savion Lewis, Tyree Pickron, and Matt Balanc are all entering their third year with the program but have thus far combined for just 80 games played.

“We do have somewhat of a young team,” Dunleavy said. “We may not have a lot of seniors but we’ve got a lot of juniors, sophomores, redshirt sophomores — third-year players who were in our initial full recruiting class.

“Some of those guys have had less experience than we’d like, based on injury, but they’ve been around. We expect their growth to accelerate this fall.”