Volume 76, Number 42 | March 14 - 20, 2007

N.Y.U. sophomore Jessica McEntee — wearing a face mask to protect a healing broken nose — dribbling against athletic conference foe Washington University in a previous meeting. The teams met twice this season, each winning on its home court. They face-off Friday in the Division III Championship Semifinals.

N.Y.U. women are shooting for Final Four win in Mass.

By Judith Stiles

Janice Quinn began her Friday night dressed to the nines in a sharp-looking black suit, sporting patent-leather low spike heels that sparkled from across the room, along with a jewel on her hand that twinkled with every gesture. While Village revelers were out hipping and hopping at clubs on Friday night, Quinn was also jumping up and down, wildly signaling instructions, as she coached the New York University women’s basketball team in the N.C.A.A. Division III Championship Sectional Semifinals, in which they beat Simpson College of Iowa, 76-58.

The win catapulted the N.Y.U. Violets to the Elite Eight game the following night, and in front of a crowd of 1,756, with Quinn wearing the same lucky suit, the Violets were victorious over a scrappy Kean University team from New Jersey. It was a nail-biter that ended with a final score of 76-64. At the half, it was tied, 38-38. But, at the start of the second half, the Kean Cougars quickly jumped out to a 55-51 lead, thanks to the inside-outside game of their star player, Ebony Jackson, of Newark, N.J. But N.Y.U. sophomore Jessica McEntee answered right back, exploding with her signature, award-winning moves, scoring 23 of her 28 points in the second half, while snatching 16 rebounds.

Other N.Y.U. standouts were co-captains Karen Bachman and Stephanie Ryba, along with 5-foot-1-inch Adrienne Rochetti, who zipped around the court, conjuring up images of Nate Robinson of the Knicks.

The well-earned win for the Violets will send them to the Division III Final Four in Springfield, Mass., on Fri., March 16. Their semifinal game will start at 6 p.m. DePauw College and Mary Washington University will play in the other National Semifinal at 4 p.m. on Friday.

N.Y.U. has now reached its third Final Four in school history, and first since winning the 1997 Division III National Championship.
Behind every great team there is a great coach, and the Quinn story is no exception. This is her 20th year of coaching at N.Y.U., where she was a player and an economics major as an undergraduate. She is known for her intense passion for the game and her ability to elevate all her players, way beyond their own expectations. Rewinding to Coach Quinn’s childhood, mother Terry Quinn claims her daughter got hooked on basketball in the backyard playing with her four brothers and a sister. According to her brother John Quinn, she learned all her defense from family games and playing with boys.

He added, “Being an economics major does translate into her work as a coach, because she has great analytical skills and basketball involves a lot of statistics.”

Besides her coaching duties, Janice Quinn is N.Y.U.’s associate director of athletics, making her a key player in creating a first-rate program born out of her business and sports acumen. Jeff Bernstein, the university’s assistant director for sports information and a big Quinn fan, is certain that if you “open a vein of Janice’s, she will surely bleed purple,” noting with a chuckle that N.Y.U.’s school colors are purple and white.

On the day before the Sweet 16 game, Coach Quinn calmly reviewed some tapes of the Violets as well as tapes from opponents Simpson College.

“Practice is planned out by the minute,” she said. “I am dealing with the academic student, so I have to squeeze practice in around the academics.”

Because of the tape-exchange protocol, Quinn got her first real look at Simpson’s team on tape, accepting that part of the challenge was to make quick adjustments at the beginning of the big game, when she could finally see the opponents live. As the game got underway, she made decisive changes in her strategy, often signaling from a squatting position on the gym floor.

The anticipation before the Final Four game against Washington University is palpable in every nook and cranny of N.Y.U.’s Jerome S. Coles Sports Center on Mercer St.

Sitting outside the locker room after practice, Quinn described the N.Y.U. 2006-’07 team as “extremely different from any of my other teams because of their special chemistry.” Of the Washington University team, she said with a laugh, “If you look closely, I have a lot of wrinkles I can associate directly with the Wash. U. team. It has been a great rivalry and we have great mutual respect for each other.”

Coach Quinn is more than ready to meet them on the court in Springfield. She will pack a suitcase for the Final Four, and will surely bring along her great talent for inspiring and motivating her players. And for the big game on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, let’s hope Coach Quinn packs a shamrock and that lucky suit of hers.

The Violets’ semifinal against Washington University will be available via an audio feed through D3Hoops.com, as well as a video broadcast through CSTV and NCAASports.com.

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