Fairleigh Dickinson University’s basketball team will play in the NCAA Tournament’s play-in game against Texas Southern for the chance to play against No. 1 seed Purdue.
This achievement was deemed impossible not even by the most optimistic of people.
Tobin Anderson was hired as the head basketball coach of FDU 10 ½ months ago, and he conducted an emergency practice that same night to assess what he had to work with.
Unfortunately, he witnessed a disheartening sight; FDU had only won four games in 2022 and had only five returning scholarship players remaining, none of whom were starters last year.
Anderson built St. Thomas Aquinas in Sparkill into a Division II powerhouse with a 209-62 record over nine seasons. So, Anderson started with what he knew best – his own players from St. Thomas Aquinas.
He brought fifth-year senior guards Demetre Roberts and Grant Singleton, as well as Sean Moore, to FDU.
Anderson had a limited pool of talent to choose from as the NCAA transfer portal was practically picked clean of talent when he was hired.
Anderson’s FDU roster consisted of four players from his Division II Aquinas team, three junior college recruits, three freshmen, and one walk-on, Brayden Reynolds.
Putting together this roster was like putting together a puzzle on the fly and had to be completed in a short amount of time.
A year after the Knights’ 4-22 finish, the second-worst in the program’s 58-year history, they are here.
This unlikely season and the job Anderson has done are proof that coaches who’ve won a lot of games on one level can do it on the next level too.
Anderson is proof that Division I schools shouldn’t turn up their noses at coaches who’ve had success at lower levels of the game. More often than not, winners win no matter the level.
Roberts is 5-foot-8 and leads the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game. Singleton is 5-9 and is the second-leading scorer with 14.3 points per game.
The average height of players from all schools is measured, and FDU is the shortest team in Division I. Anderson said, “Coaches who have won, there’s a reason they’ve won, you know?
So, I’d be lying to say there isn’t a chip on shoulder.”
Anderson is keeping tabs on the schools that snubbed him. “I can’t help but do that,” he said. “I don’t say names, but there’s definitely a little bit of that going on.
There are a lot of schools that wouldn’t give me the time of day that have been losing for the last seven or eight years.”
While this is a remarkable season, Anderson acknowledges there is still work to be done. Ten months ago, he and his wife never thought that FDU would have a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament.
Anderson thought it would take three or four years to take the team to the NCAA Tournament.
However, to do it in the first year with all the challenges is one of the most incredible seasons he’s experienced in his 21-year career as a head coach.»Fairleigh Dickinson University’s basketball team to play in the NCAA Tournament’s play-in game«