Fairfield Looking for Healthy Contributions from Jenkins, Sidibe

Fairfield’s struggles this season, a 3-13 start under third-year head coach Sydney Johnson, can be attributed to the team’s influx of youth in the lineup.

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Sydney Johnson said that Justin Jenkins (pictured) is finally healthy after a setback to his knee over the summer.

The Stags are the 20th youngest team in the country and it has shown many times this season with their inconsistency.

“I think our greatest strength honestly is our youth,” Johnson said who said that strength has turned to be their greatest weakness at times. “The future is tremendously bright with these guys.”

While the team’s youth has been served throughout, sophomores like Justin Jenkins and captain Amadou Sidibe have struggled to stay healthy since the start of the season. Jenkins played sparingly in the first two months of the season and Johnson attributed that to a “setback with his knee” towards the end of the summer, which did not allow him to get up to speed when the school year began.

“It took him a bit to return to form physically and to get the intensity and the practice habits back he needed,” Johnson said of Jenkins who has started the last two games. “Scoring is easy for him, so now we’re pushing him to do the intangibles: the box outs, the lead us on the floor, things like that. If he keeps it up, he’s going to get some minutes and we certainly need it because that’s what he does well, it just seems to come easy for him.”

Jenkins tied his career-high with 16 points in his first start of the season. While the Stags could use Jenkins’ scoring, they will also look to get leadership out of captain Amadou Sidibe. Johnson said that the sophomore has struggled this season because of lingering tendonitis all season.

“He’s been dealing with a pretty intense case of tendonitis all season, literally all season,” Johnson said. “I think we saw a breakthrough in the last three weeks where he’s starting to feel better and he’s skying up there for rebounds. If we get this kid fully healthy, he’s such a great kid and he goes hard.”

“We got some players in the program, and he’s certainly one of them, so I think it’s just a return to form if he’s healthy and that’s what we’ve seen the last couple of weeks. We hope we can get that for the rest of the MAAC season.”

Sidibe became the first ever captain of the Stags as a sophomore when Johnson tabbed him to the spot in April alongside senior Mo Barrow. The Cardinal Hayes product averaged 5.7 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game last season and has started to return to form in MAAC play against St. Peter’s and Iona last weekend.

Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

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