Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson has agreed to a contract extension with the University that will keep him until the 2019 season.
Johnson left his alma mater, Princeton, after the 2010-11 season to take over the Stags for Ed Cooley who left Fairfield for Providence. He was 66-53 at Princeton and is currently 26-19 at Fairfield.
Johnson said he was first approached about an extension during the summer. The deal agreed to and announced officially today at Fairfield adds two more years onto Johnson’s existing deal, which takes him through the 2018-19 season.
“It just came out of conversations about feeling really good about the program and trying to map out the future and the direction and just talking with [Athletic Director] Gene Doris and everything, one thing led to another,” Johnson said.
Fairfield already has three commitments for next season to add to his five man freshman class recruited last season and Sean Grennan, a Seton Hall transfer who is sitting out this season.
Johnson said in his first season he had some give and take adjusting to what the players knew under former head coach Ed Cooley, but he feels like this season, with a strong senior class and his first recruiting class, that he has the team he wants.
“These are my guys,” Johnson said. “I know that I didn’t recruit five of them but these are my guys. Derek [Needham], Des[mond Wade], and Colin [Nickerson] understand exactly what we’re trying to do and they’re good at doing and we just added some pieces that comes natural to them and the way we want to play.”
“Every year we go forward it will be more of that, but it starts with this year. I feel like these are my guys, that we’re all on the same page, and I can’t say enough that that has a lot to do with Derek and Colin.”
The extension was announced a week after Fairfield began the season 4-4 playing eight straight road games. Johnson said that the team hoped to get home games out of the NIT Season Tip Off sub-regional but instead had to play in Pennsylvania for two.
“I think we’ve battled through it and we’ve come out a pretty strong team,” Johnson said. “We just have to hope that everything we’ve prepared for to date prepares us for Canisius and Rider because these are league games and these are more important than anything else that we’re going to do deal with.”
All five freshmen have seen the floor for the Stags this season and contributed, something Johnson said he attributes to the senior leaders making them comfortable.
“We had expected them to be good,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if these freshman could be playing as well if they weren’t being as led as well as they are. Derek, Des and Colin show up everyday, they give everything they need, they’re vocal, they care, they’re open to coaching so I think our freshman walked into a really good situation where they have coaches who believe in them and they have senior leadership that’s showing them the way. That’s a pretty good situation to be in as freshmen.”