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Gonzaga vs. FDU

This is still a huge fairly Dickinson house.

March 22, 2019 - 10:58 am

But not everything about yesterday was beautiful and storybook. There was Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Gonzaga. I said before and I will say it again, this is a Fairleigh Dickinson House. This is also a Gonzaga House. So you can imagine how conflicted I was going into that game. The Knights were in deep. Very, very deep. And I knew that. 

But they had magic against Prairie View A&M. All season long, they had lived by the mantra of their head coach and Jungle legend, Greg Herenda “YOU WILL FOREVER BE JUDGED BY WHAT YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO.”

They were not supposed to beat Gonzaga. But they weren’t supposed to win their conference. They weren’t supposed to reach the NCAA tournament. They weren’t supposed to win in the NCAA tournament.

So what’s another challenge like facing Gonzaga? Especially a Gonzaga team that looked out of sorts versus Saint Mary’s the last time they stepped on the floor.

Who cares if Gonzaga went 30-3 coming into the tournament? Who cares if Gonzaga is the only team in the country to beat a full-strength Duke? They did not look like themselves in the conference tournament and Fairleigh Dickinson was on a roll. The Knights had a chance, right?

No, friends. No they did not.

Gonzaga led by ten inside four and a half minutes. They led by 20 inside ten and half minutes. And then went on a 19-0 run to end the first half and lead by 36 at halftime. That was cold. It was clinical. And it was merciless.

Just one dunk after another. And when FDU could get to the bucket, the results were less than optimal.

That was rough. Just ask Greg Herenda: "I don't know who in America could've played Gonzaga and beat them tonight.”

Agreed. Gonzaga professionally choked out an underdog in the most ruthlessly efficient way possible. And reminded everyone why they had the best offense in the country all year long. The only reason why they didn’t get to triple digits yesterday is because they didn’t want to get to triple digits yesterday.

And it is a reminder, yet again, of how far this program has become. Gonzaga is no longer the gritty upstart, the program with a dream, the underdog everyone roots for. They are now in the business of stomping on underdogs. They aren’t the dreamers, they are the dream killers. And they snuffed out that dream very quickly yesterday.

But even in the face of a brutal defeat, Fairleigh Dickinson was still Fairleigh Dickinson and Greg Herenda was still Greg Herenda. He made sure to get Nadi Baciri, a senior who’d miss the last 30 games with an injury, into the game. And to get him this moment.

That is awesome. And that’s why the tournament is awesome. Because of moments like that and quotes like this: “Tonight, our trainer said it would be safe for him to play. His back was really—he couldn't travel. You guys know, when you have a bad back, you can't do anything. And how that ball bounced to him and how he like lumbered to the basket and then I'm mad at him, I said, Nadi, I need 50 [points]. That was the second goal, to get to 50, and he’s got 49 on the foul line. But he was—I don't think he knew where he was. Nadi Beciri, man, he is going to be a very successful person. Write that name down. He is a business major. And a beautiful person. And if he sits down for an interview, he's got the job, trust me.”

And that is a beautiful team. I come to praise Fairleigh Dickinson, not to bury them. They were awesome.

Greg Herenda. Darnell Edge. Jahlil Jenkins. Mike Holloway Jr. Those are names that will go down in FDU history. They did what had never been done before.

And FDU fans, you better celebrate that team when they come home. And when you do, to quote my man Greg Herenda and his mom, you better ring the doorbell with your elbows, because you better be coming with something in your hands. They brought more than just themselves to the party and it was great. Nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of.  That’s why that’s the best sporting event in the world: because of teams like that: players like that: coaches like that and moments like that. And this is still a huge fairly Dickinson house.  Even after a blowout like that.  Esp. After a blowout like that.