December 14, 2023 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Carly Thibault-DuDonis and Fairfield are rising in the MAAC

Stags head coach talks big win over Rutgers, clutch rebounding, mid-major recruiting and more

The Fairfield Stags have been on a tear this non-conference season, wracking up big wins over Rutgers, Fordham and St. John’s. On today’s episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, head coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis joins host Howard Megdal to discuss how the Stags improved from 4–3 this time last year, to 7–1, with their one loss being a 73–70 near miss at Vanderbilt.

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First, Megdal and Thibault-DuDonis discussed the key areas the team worked on as they prepared for a new season, with rebounding and “doing it by committee” being their primary focuses.

“We hold a very high standard [for] effort,” Thibault-DuDonis explained. “I’m talking about controlling your controllables, because while we are a team that can score and shoot the ball … you’re not going to shoot great every single night. And so I think my coaching staff does a great job of holding those standards to a high level. But from a rebounding perspective, we may not have pound-for-pound the better rebounders … most teams are going to send back a safety in transition defense, and whoever’s in charge of boxing them out needs to go and help people who are outmanned, outnumbered, outsized, whatever it may be.”

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They also discussed the Stags’ leading-scorer Janelle Brown, who is currently averaging 18.6 points per game. Standing at just 5’6, Brown is the only player shorter than 5’11 with a 2-point efficiency over 70%, and one of nine players taking at least 5 2-point shots per game who’ve even hit the 70% mark at all, according to Her Hoop Stats.

Thibault-Dudonis also spoke to how Brown’s stardom goes well beyond her game-to-game heroics: “I mean, she lights up any room, she can make anybody laugh, she makes everybody, kids that come to games, she just makes everybody feel important,” she said. “From a basketball perspective, last year, she had to do a lot for us, her and [Callie Cavanaugh] had to carry a lot of our offensive load. And so while she was very efficient … she probably [had to] do more then we would have liked her to … And for her offseason, she did a great job of still being able to get downhill, get feet and paint, make open threes, but do it with poise and taking care of the basketball, not running people over, and staying out of foul trouble.”

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“She’s got a lot of great teammates around her and … if people do take her away, they have to pick their poison a little bit. Are they going to take away a downhill layup from [Brown], when she’s [had a] game [where she shot] 15-of-17 on a lot of downhill layups, or are you going to come off of really good three point shooters, and you know, other [players] that can create as well? So it makes a really difficult decision for people and she’s doing an unbelievable job of picking her spots and making those reads,” Thibault-DuDonis said.

They also discussed Thibault-DuDonis’ time as associate head coach at Minnesota and her recruitment efforts there, as well as what she enjoys about recruiting as a mid-major team in the MAAC and much more. Make sure to subscribe to the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about women’s college basketball, the WNBA, basketball history and much more!

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