March Madness FDU basketball inspired an entire sport in NCAA Tournament

March Madness FDU basketball inspired an entire sport in NCAA Tournament

March Madness FDU basketball inspired an entire sport in NCAA Tournament

March Madness FDU basketball inspired an entire sport in NCAA Tournament
March Madness FDU basketball inspired an entire sport in NCAA Tournament

They’re watching. College basketball players from Evansville (5-27), LIU (3-26), Delaware State (6-24) and other programs that took it on the chin this season. Coaches who’ve been toiling in anonymity for the per-hour equivalent of peanuts, wondering if it’s all worthwhile. Administrators staring at a tight budget, stretching every dollar.

They’re looking at the incredible, improbable, indelible story that is Fairleigh Dickinson and they’re nodding their heads at what they see.

Hope.

Times are changing in this sport. The gap is closing. How else to explain the proliferation of Cinderellas advancing in the NCAA Tournament, mid-majors cutting down high-majors, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds getting bounced? The 16 teams still dancing after FDU’s 78-70 loss to Florida Atlantic in Sunday’s Round of 32 hail from 11 difference conferences.
With cohesion, moxie and a little bit of luck, you can go from 4-22 to the national stage. It’s now possible, no matter what conference you play in, as the revolving door shakes up the rosters of the big boys.

FDU has proven it by knocking off Big Ten champion Purdue and coming within a couple of possessions of the Big Dance’s second weekend.

5 takeaways:Analysis of FDU’s final game against Florida Atlantic

It wasn’t always this way. The godfather of FDU hoops, Tom Green, took the Knights to four NCAA Tournaments. In the first, in 1985, they had Michigan on the ropes in the opening round – up 10 points with eight minutes left, but four starters fouled out, and they came within inches of an open-court steal down two with five seconds left.

It was the closest FDU would come during Green’s tenure, 407 wins over 26 years, to busting brackets.
Now Green, who lives in New Milford and serves as a broadcaster for FDU home games for NEC Front Row’s live stream, is in a position to truly appreciate what successor Tobin Anderson has done. Not just for his old program, but for everyone along the sport’s lower rungs who harbors big-stage dreams.
“It’s got to be very inspirational,” Green said. “I think it’s a tremendous wake-up call.”

One of the many lessons in FDU’s story is the importance of cohesion. Postgrad guards Demetre Roberts and Grant Singleton have been playing together, and under Anderson, for five years.

“These guys have came and changed this program in ways that I never could have imagined,” FDU guard Joe Munden said. “Last year at this time I was sitting in my dorm room; I didn’t know when the next time I was going to play basketball was, and for these guys to come in and bring us here to this place where we’re honestly not supposed to be, it’s amazing.”

Roberts and Singleton know how to take a punch and respond in unison. You saw it against Purdue. You saw it against Florida Atlantic.

“I’ve been around the game a long time,” Green said, “and I’ve never seen two guards play that well together.”

There have been dire predictions across the college sports landscape that the transfer portal and the influence of name-image-likeness cash would further consolidate the gulf between the haves and have-nots.
Maybe they will; these changes are in their infancy. But maybe they won’t. Maybe the fact that Kansas, Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky were finished while FDU and FAU played Sunday says something unexpected about the impact of all this upheaval.
In these times, maybe having cohesion is the trump card in March Madness’s already crazy one-and-done format.

One thing is certain: FDU has infused hope in the far reaches of an entire sport.

“This turnaround is something I don’t think anyone dreamed of,” Green said.

They’re dreaming all over the place now. For FDU basketball, what a legacy.

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