Baker Dunleavy and Quinnipiac open season against reigning national champion Villanova in a year where Bobcats project among MAAC's top tier. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)
When handed the keys to Quinnipiac's program sixteen months ago, Baker Dunleavy stressed one aspect critically as he laid out his vision for the Bobcats' future.
It was not about an instant splash in winning percentage for the Jay Wright disciple, but rather, one of growth and gradually making his team better as the year went on. Dunleavy's approach was rewarded with a semifinal appearance in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, and a positive outlook on year two with a number of transfers and incoming freshmen joining the up-and-coming outfit in Hamden.
Dunleavy scheduled accordingly this season, the finished product of an eleven-game non-conference slate having been revealed Thursday morning, one that opens on November 10 against reigning national champion Villanova -- where Dunleavy played and served as associate head coach -- in a matchup that has just as much its share of emotion as its test for how much Quinnipiac has truly matured.
"Personally for me, I think leading up to the game and after the game, it'll be a cool experience for me just to be back around a lot of people that I know and love," he said of the trip to The Pavilion. "For recruiting, it's good. We certainly want to recruit down there in Philly and the mid-Atlantic, and for the offseason, it's a good story. But once you play the game, you'd rather almost not play games where there's an emotional attachment, but I think that's a good thing for us."
"It'll be our first game, so I think it's a great opportunity for us to really get battle-tested and play in one of the most difficult atmospheres and situations against a great team. If that's the way we start, and if we can come out of that game feeling good and if we've played well, I think it can give us a good experience."
Three consecutive games against America East Conference opposition follow the Wildcats, beginning with the Bobcats' home opener against Hartford on November 15, and continuing with a trip to New Hampshire five days later before Maine visits the newly-christened People's United Center on the 25th of November. Three road games ensue from there, the first being a return game with Massachusetts on November 28, then the front end of an in-season home-and-home series with Stony Brook December 1, and a second journey to New Hampshire four days after that, this time to take on Dartmouth.
Quinnipiac will not leave the Nutmeg State again until MAAC play opens, as its final four non-league games are within the state of Connecticut. On December 8, Lafayette comes to Hamden to kick off a stretch of three home games in 15 days, a span interrupted by a neutral-site contest with Drexel at Mohegan Sun Arena on December 16. Bethune-Cookman will be welcomed by the Bobcats on the 19th, with the final tuneup before league play coming against Stony Brook on December 22.
Quinnipiac Non-Conference Schedule (all times TBD)
Saturday, November 10: at Villanova
Thursday, November 15: vs. Hartford
Tuesday, November 20: at New Hampshire
Sunday, November 25: vs. Maine
Wednesday, November 28: at Massachusetts
Saturday, December 1: at Stony Brook
Wednesday, December 5: at Dartmouth
Saturday, December 8: vs. Lafayette
Sunday, December 16: vs. Drexel (Mohegan Sun Arena)
Wednesday, December 19: vs. Bethune-Cookman
Saturday, December 22: vs. Stony Brook