Columbus, Ohio – They press without fear.
The coach and two of his top guards are fifth-year seniors—all removed a year from Division II—and the five returning players who were on the 4-22 team a year ago.
every one of them.
So what if the opponent, Purdue, wins 29 of its 34 games, is the Big Ten champ and 25-point favorite going into their first-round NCAA Tournament game at 6:50 p.m. on Friday?
Fairleigh Dickinson, who is thoroughly enjoying the March Madness ride, doesn’t care about any of that.
A video from FDU’s postgame celebration following Wednesday night’s First Four win over Texas Southern, in which FDU coach Tobin Anderson pumped his players, is proof of the Knights’ moxie.
“I want Purdue to see this,” Anderson tells his players. “I had breakfast this morning and what did you say to me, Cam [Murrell, one of his assistant coaches]? “The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.” Let’s go and shock the world. ”
Underdogs playing with house money can be dangerous in the backyard.
Purdue found out the hard way in the NCAA Tournament last year when they knocked out No. 15-ranked St. Peter’s in the Sweet 16.
So, about the video.
“Yeah, I probably didn’t want to bring that out,” Anderson said with a wry smile Thursday. “But… I want our guys to believe. Part of success is we have to believe we have a chance to win. That’s kind of the way we think. We think we have a chance to win.”
“Listen, they’re the big dogs in this fight,” Anderson said of Purdue. “They’re the Big Ten champions, won the Big Ten title by four games, and it’s one of the best teams in the country. They’re going to come after us. We have to take it. We have to take our punches, keep punching and keep fighting. We have to be brave and brave and tough as we’ve been” .
Asked if hitting a bear with that video was too risky, Anderson said, “I don’t think Purdue needs any extra motivation from the standpoint that they lost last year to St. Peter in the NCAA tournament. They’re trying to win a national championship. Maybe I gave them a little bit.” There is. But it’s going to motivate us a little bit. We’re going to be more nervous because of it. I told the guys, ‘I’m sorry about that, guys. We’ll have to back that up.'”
Veteran FDU tandem of Demeter Roberts and Grant Singleton, the 5-foot-8 and 5-9 guards, respectively, whom Anderson brought with him from St. Thomas Aquinas College, have no problem supporting their coach.
They’ve been doing this for five years now.
Anderson, Roberts and Singleton are now 14-5 together in postseason games, spanning four NCAA Division II championships and winning their first four on Wednesday night.
“Grant and Demeter know how to win in big situations,” said Anderson. “I don’t say much to them before the game. When I look Demeter in the eye and see them glazed over, I feel good about what’s going to happen. He looks around and thinks he should be here. That’s just how he is. It’s no surprise to him.
“When you’re a 5-to-8 guard who’s been told your whole life you’re not big enough, from Mount Vernon, New York, and raised that way, you see guys go to Division I, and you don’t think Demeter Roberts is a major mid-section guard? He’s a tremendous guard.” .I will not trade it for anyone.”
He will not trade with Singleton.
It’s a package deal.
“Demeter is the alpha dog,” said Anderson. “Demeter is the thermostat. He adjusts the temperature. When Demeter plays well, that kind of brings Grant along. Grant kind of feeds off Demeter. They make each other better. Demeter scores 2,000 points. Grant has 1,500 college points. That’s 3,500 a college point combined in all the games they played together.
“How many backcourts at the college level have that experience in terms of the game, success in the game?”
Anderson will need the best of both of them on Friday night.
He was so struck by how flawlessly his players executed the game plan on Wednesday night that he joked about how little he trained in the game, and how he stayed out of the way.
“We have to improve it a little bit [Friday] Night,” Anderson is sad. “The best game we can play… I think he’s still available to us, but he has to be [Friday] a night. And I think it’s available to us. ”
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