Teaneck, NJ - The disappointment was evident on the faces of coach Greg Herenda and three of his players. The mood was not focused on the 4-22 season now in the books. If the regular season is less than what was hoped for, the second season, the conference tournament, gives a second life. A second season to right the wrongs of prior weeks and months. The mood following the 67-66 loss to Central Connecticut at Rothman Center on Monday was about that second season ending sooner than hoped for and being denied a chance to play in March. Herenda and his team wanted to get to March. They didn’t and Central Connecticut would move on to face top seeded Bryant in the Northeast Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday. FDU would call it a season.
Herenda would lament on a FDU 15 point second half lead that dissipated as the half wore on. Unfortunately for the Knights this has been an all too frequent occurrence this season. "We had leads in several games and couldn’t close it out," he said. "That’s part of the maturation process. Learning how to finish the game and win. We are young and have to learn."
"You get what you deserve," Herenda continued. It was a mantra repeated several times. "Our championship teams got what they deserved. This season and tonight especially, we just got what we deserved."
A positive was the attitude of the players. Brandon Rush, FDU’s leading scorer on the night with 15 points was asked if he would like to forget about this game. "Forget about it," Rush exclaimed. "No way. I want to remember this. In the off season this will be motivation for working for next season."
Rush evidently has bought into his coach’s philosophy. As Herenda said, "November and December are important as you begin the season but the most important months are July and August." Simply, what you do in those months determines what you may be doing in march.
Herenda found a positive out of this night. His former assistant Patrick Sellers was on the opposite bench as head coach of Central Connecticut. "We are family," Herenda said. "When we won our championships Patrick was on our staff. For forty minutes we are enemies but now after the game we are family. I wish him well in the quarterfinals at Bryant."
Joining Herenda in the post game press conference were three of his players. The namecards all revealed their class as junior. They will be back. This is a young team. Encouraging, but Herenda and co. know there is work to be done.
"We seemed to have a propensity to not guard people," the coach remarked. "You can’t defend like that and expect to win. You have to defend with a purpose." Giving up 67 points may not seem excessive. On closer look Central Connecticut had an 110 offensive efficiency (FDU posted a 108). The visiting Blue Devils came into the game with a conference low average of 95. FDU was too generous defensively and the difference resulted in a one point outcome. "We need to get better," Herenda added, "and we have a lot of things to do. For now I will miss the practices. As a team we practiced well but the games...." The offseason gives time to reflect and prepare. Herenda did part finishing the press conference promising, "we will figure it all out."