As we move deep into the summer, I have begun my annual exercise of interviewing NEC coaches for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. Now that I have a stronger understanding of who’ll be rostered come November, I decided to offer my opinion on who the winners and losers of this offseason were. Continue reading “NEC Winners and Losers of the Offseason”
On Dec. 4, 2015, Schadrac Casimir – reigning unanimous MAAC Rookie of the Year – went scoreless in just 23 minutes as Iona played Fairfield. It was a secondary story because the Gaels won, but something was clearly up and a couple of days later it was announced Casimir would miss the rest of the season with a hip labral tear.
With modern medicine, most of the time, that’s it, Casimir would return for 2016-17 with three years of eligibility and be ready to rock and roll by the time practice began in October. But even state of the art medicine is not perfect and hips can be tricky for athletes, especially basketball players with the constant changing of direction needed. Casimir underwent another surgery on the other hip later in the winter and then a third on a sports hernia which was related to the first two.
“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.
Before we embark on what promises to be a fascinating conference tournament this week, we here at Big Apple Buckets would like to present our NEC awards and all-conference teams. Continue reading “Big Apple Buckets 2015-16 NEC Awards and All-Conference Teams”
With half of the season in the books, now is the perfect time to announce out my NEC midseason all-conference teams. Figuring out the NEC top 15 wasn’t an easy task, especially given the youth the league possesses, yet I’m confident this group of young men have been worthy of these honors. Continue reading “NEC Midseason All-Conference Teams”
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.”
We are halfway through the furious eight game stretch to start the conference season, therefore allow us to dive right into the action for the first Thursday of the New Year! Continue reading “NEC Recap January 7: Game Number Three”