Outlook: An experienced team still loaded with several players from their NCAA run two years ago is looking to rebound from a subpar 2016-17 season. FDU will look to continue to play fast while finding a way to solve some of their defensive inefficiencies which set them back a season ago. Continue reading
“The hungry cat hunts best,” is the motto of the Fairleigh Dickinson program. That hunger still fuels FDU—even coming off a season in which the Knights stunned the Northeast Conference by advancing to the NCAA tournament after being picked ninth last preseason.
STATEN ISLAND – On Feb. 28, 2015 in a game that was little noted nor long remembered, even by the most diehardiest of diehard NEC fans, Fairleigh Dickinson defeated Central Connecticut 73-62 in front of a few dozen people at the Rothman Center.
Perhaps the only noteworthy thing was the Knights ended a 15-game losing streak, but both teams were long-since rooted at the bottom of the NEC and eliminated from NEC Tournament contention. For the average second-year coach who had done really well in his first season, it would be the conclusion of a doubt-filled campaign, wondering what had gone wrong.
STATEN ISLAND – In the end, maybe Fairleigh Dickinson was just too young to realize they weren’t supposed to win the NEC.
Picked ninth in the preseason conference coaches’ poll, and playing exclusively with freshmen and sophomores (the fourth youngest team in the country according to KenPom), the Knights are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005, completing an amazing run by upsetting top-seeded Wagner 87-79 in front of a sellout crowd at the Spiro Center.
HACKENSACK, N.J. – As some crazy guy who travels to college basketball games with a stuffed basketball long after it was funny once put it, Greg Herenda arrived on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson for his first Division I head coaching job to find his team had “exactly six players and zero assistant coaches”.
Less than three years later, he has FDU 40 minutes from an NCAA Tournament berth after an 80-75 NEC semifinal win over Mount St. Mary’s Saturday before a Rothman Center crowd of 1,562 that sounded much louder than that.
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Greg Herenda swears the only numbers he notices on the scoreboard is the time. But even he had to be amazed to look up and see his Fairleigh Dickinson team – picked ninth by the coaches in the preseason NEC poll – leading 47-19 with two minutes left in the first half Thursday night at the Pitt Center.
“I don’t really look at the scoreboard, I look at the clock and the clock never ticks quick enough, even when you have a big lead,” Herenda said. “We have in on the board, ‘Every second of every possession for 40 minutes if not more’. We practice hard every day. Most programs keep score of everything and do competitive drills with scores in practice, but we don’t. We just play hard, and if we play hard and well, we’ll do well.”
Coming off an unexpected and rather brutal 15-game losing streak that sunk their 2014-15 campaign, Fairleigh Dickinson was an afterthought in the NEC this offseason. Sure, a vast majority still believed Greg Herenda was steering the ship in the right direction, but perhaps this massive rebuilding project in Hackensack would take longer than expected? Continue reading
I’ve chimed in on a couple of major NEC transfers this offseason (Marcquise Reed here and Andrew Smeathers here), but during my brief hiatus from the blog I failed to address a few other significant defections. Allow me to catch up as I assess how the recent turnover may affect two programs that finished in the bottom of the NEC standings, Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU) and Central Connecticut (CCSU). Continue reading
“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection.”
– Thomas Paine
When I last saw Greg Herenda, he was basking in the glow in yet another improbable NEC victory, this one at LIU Brooklyn. No one was quite calling Herenda’s Fairleigh Dickinson squad a contender, but the word sleeper was bandied about quite a bit. Herenda had a young, energetic team, it was now his second time around the league, and the Knights also had non-conference wins over St. Joseph’s, Princeton, and Towson on the resume. They were 7-6 overall and 2-0 in league play with both wins coming on the road.
It was Jan. 5.
Fairleigh Dickinson hasn’t won since.
We may never be sure this season about the talent Greg Herenda has at Fairleigh Dickinson, just two years into a majot rebuilding project, and having graduated the player who led the Knights back to the NEC Tournament last season in Sidney Sanders.
But just two games into the 2014-15 NEC campaign, we do know this: FDU is not going to lie down and accept its fate, and if you’re going to beat them, you better make sure the job is done.