The regular season is finally upon us! A few days after celebrating the future with the new recruiting class, it’s time to focus on the present to see what Ed Cooley has in store for this year’s Friars. The first matchup seems relatively harmless, with a Fairleigh Dickinson team who finished last in the NEC last year with only 5 total wins making a trip to the Dunk. Even Keno Davis laughs at that win total! However, you can pretty much throw that and all of their previous stats out the window since FDU is apparently the St. John’s of the Northeast Conference (well, minus all of their eligibility problems). The Knights have TEN new players this season, including 6 transfers (4 of which are JUCOs). Let’s hope they are all more like Kyle Wright and a lot less Ruben Garces.
PC has won 9 out of their last 10 season openers, the lone loss being the first game of the Keno Davis era against Northeastern. That senior laden team was all out of sorts in their debut in Keno’s new system. I imagine this year’s Friars will have some growing pains as well, but hopefully things will kick off strong for the “Welcome Home Party” for Coach Cooley.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 2:00PM EST
Opponent: Fairleigh Dickinson (5-24, 3-15 in NEC last season)
Location: The DUNK
Read more after the jump!
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
No Kiwi: There is still no timetable on the decision from the NCAA on the school’s appeal of Kiwi Gardner’s eligibility. #FreeKiwi
Can FDU replace the boss?: Last season guard Mike Scott was the 8th leading scorer in the NEC with 14.9 ppg. Much like NBC has dealt with, how can you replace Michael Scott? It just won’t be the same. I guess that makes Melquan Bolding the Nard Dog. Bolding is a 6-3 junior transfer from Duquesne, who was at one point did a whole commit / de-commit / re-commit thing with Louisville. He did a year of prep at Notre Dame Prep, but ended up at Duquesne after looking at St. John’s, Cincinnati, and Temple. He is extremely athletic and explosive at the wing, so Gerard Coleman will be the best bet to deal with him in a man matchup.
Pace Like I said before, we pretty much can throw out all FDU’s previous stats out the window. We know with last year’s players they had a downright awful Effective FG% (44.4%, #323 nationally) and really couldn’t stop anyone (109.7 adjusted defensive efficiency, ranked #3. However, the pace FDU played at for the last two years under coach Gred Vetrone could give a clue for the type of offense he runs. The adjusted tempos of 67.3 and 68.4 are not exactly on the same level of Keno Ball, but they are ranked slightly ahead of the middle of the pack nationally. With a more athletic team who has not spent much time playing with each other and plenty of bodies to around, you would have to think Vetrone will look to push things to try and wear down Cooley’s thin roster.
The consistency of Gerard Coleman In the first exhibition game against Assumption, Coleman was largely a non-factor and struggled offensively. He certinaly showed improvement in the 2nd half against UMASS-Lowell, but still had 8 turnovers overall. We know he can run the court and score in transition, but everything can start falling into the place if he can start taking care of the ball in Ed Cooley’s system.
Battle of lesser frontcourt: Bilal Dixon and Lee Goldsbrough will be the biggest players out on the court by a few inches, as FDU is also pretty thin at the forward position. They return two 6-7 sophomores who combined for 4.3 boards per game last year, and have another 6-6 JUCO who is coming from somewhere called the Global Institute of Technology. LaDontae Henton will surely be the biggest factor in how the Friars fare on the glass.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Providence and Fairleigh Dickinson will be meeting for the third time in history, with the series tied at a win apiece.
The Knights earned a 55-53 victory in Providence on December 19, 1984. The Friars got revenge 22 seasons later when they opened the season with a 96-71 victory on November 14, 2006.
Fairleigh Dickinson (5-24, 3-15 NEC) fans will no doubt take a close look at the game program at the team’s home opener as the new-look Knights will feature no less than ten newcomers as part of a completely overhauled roster following the graduation of four starters. Now in his third year, head coach Greg Vetrone must go without Mike Scott, one of the best point guards in recent NEC vintage. To his credit, Vetrone had Duquesne transfer Melquan Bolding (Mt. Vernon, NY/Bishop Stepinac) waiting in the wings. Bolding, a 6-3 guard, played two seasons for the Dukes, earning Atlantic-10 All-Rookie honors as a freshman before averaging 11.8 ppg as a sophomore. Of FDU’s five returnees, look for senior guard Briahn Smith (Detroit, MI/Madison) and sophomore forward Mathias Seilund (Dragoer, Denmark/Falkonergaardens Gymnasium) to make the most impact. Smith is the top returning scorer for the Knights, having contributed 6.1 ppg and 35 three-pointers in 2010-11, while the 6-7 Seilund chipped in with 4.6 ppg in his first year of collegiate ball. A number of high impact transfers will take the court this year including 6-9 forward George Goode (Raytown, MD/Raytown South) (Louisville) and 6-7 forward Mouhamed Lo (Port Chester, NY/Port Chester) (To ledo), both of whom are graduate students. Junior guard Lonnie Hayes (Cincinnati, OH/Harmony Prep (Missouri State-West Plains JC)) was a junior college All-American last season
NEC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Long Island (10)
2. Robert Morris (2)
6. Mount St. Mary’s
8. Sacred Heart
9. Saint Francis (PA)
11. St. Francis (NY)
12. Fairleigh Dickinson
There is, however, one thing that worries him: chemistry. Specifically, when it will arrive in Teaneck.
“It’s all about that,” Vetrone said last week. “This is the most talented team that I’ve had here. That being said, the first team I had here (in 2009-10) was the most cohesive I’ve had. From a talent level, where these guys have come from and what they’ve accomplished, it’s much higher. But there’s no cohesiveness right now.”
When the Fairleigh Dickinson men’s basketball team got together for its first official practice of the season, the use of nametags would have been in order.
The Knights sank to the bottom of the conference standings in Greg Vetrone’s second season, but much of this year’s roster wasn’t responsible for it. The top five scorers from a five-win squad are gone, and several role players transferred out.
Vetrone is now counting on a bunch of new veterans to help FDU ignite a quick fix.
“Right now, with the league where it’s at, we are trying to upgrade as soon as possible,” Vetrone said.
The Sports Network: College Basketball Preview – Northeast Conference
FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON: The Knights won just five games a year ago, and must move forward after graduating four starters, of whom were also the four top scorers on the squad. Head coach Greg Vetrone’s squad will be led by senior guard Briahn Smith, who averaged 6.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last year. Smith started in 21-of-28 contests – and the only other returner to start last year is Mathias Seilund, who chipped 4.6 points and 2.2 boards while averaging 16.5 minutes. That means Fairleigh Dickinson will rely heavily on the services of transfers, including former Louisville recruit George Goode, former Toledo player Mouhamed Lo and Duquesne transfer Melquan Bolding.
WHAT TO: WATCH
The FDU Knights mens basketball team has a new look in 2012. FDUknights.com takes a look at how the squad has come together.
The 2 time National Champion Lady Knights Bowling team shows the 2011-12 FDU Men’s Basketball team a few things on a different kind of hardwood.
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll probably be live tweeting the game @friarblog. Also be sure to follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
WHERE TO: LISTEN
WEEI 103.7 FM