Head coach Greg Herenda fields questions in advance of FDU's exhibition trip to Canada. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
Teaneck, NJ - They started to arrive around 11:30, 90 minutes before practice was scheduled to begin. That alone should tell you something.
FDU had a one o’clock practice scheduled this past Wednesday prior to leaving for an exhibition trip to Montreal. Most of the group anxiously arrived early to put in some extra work.
They are coming off a season which culminated in a storybook run. FDU won 18 games, a ten-win improvement improved from the year before. Greater significance lies in the second-seeded Knights running the table in March to capture the Northeast Conference championship. Their NCAA trip was short-lived, a loss to Florida Gulf Coast, but that setback did nothing to diminish the magnitude of what was accomplished.
Rather than rest on the laurels of a championship team, the Knights were eager to hit the floor and get back in action. They could not wait to get started. Their actions supported the words of junior star Earl Potts Jr., last season’s NEC Tournament MVP, who said, “we want to win another championship, get back in the NCAAs and hopefully win a few games there. That’s what we want to do.”
FDU returns four starters and eleven letterwinners from last year’s champion. They are veterans. As coach Greg Herenda pointed out after Wednesday’s practice, their experience surpasses the exploits enjoyed in March. “This is a group that the year before lost fifteen straight games,” Herenda noted. “Even in the midst of that, (streak) they believed they could win. They had to learn how to win, which they did this past year.”
For the Knights, it is a great opportunity to blend in several newcomers into an experienced cast. The trip was finalized the first week of August, and will include games against McGill and Brookwood. Beyond the court, Herenda sees this as an integral addition to the educational process of his group. “We bill ourselves as a global university,” he said. “This trip will allow our student-athletes to experience the culture of another country and will be an important part of the trip.”
When they speak of academics at FDU, it is with conviction and purpose. The team won the NEC Team Academic Award for the second straight season. That honor is bestowed on the team with the highest GPA. To Herenda, his staff and players, it is a distinction to be proud of.
The Knights know they will enter this season as the hunted rather than hunters. Their offseason preparation has been indicative, as they realize the position they are now in. “I know we are the target,” Herenda admitted. “But you know what? The target is moving. My staff and myself made sure complacency did not happen.”
On Wednesday, about 90 minutes prior to the start of practice, we saw the proof.