TEANECK, NJ - The exhibition games are a test.
The opportunity to get on the floor against an opponent and put the offensive and defensive principles into practice. Scrimmages can also satisfy that need. There is no substitute, though, to face an opponent under game situations.
Exhibitions can also be a bit unnerving for the Division I host. The opposition, usually a Division II or III opponent, comes in with nothing to lose and would like nothing better than to exit the building with a highlight-reel win. LeMoyne over Syracuse a few years ago was enough to see the former sell commemorative t-shirts.
On Thursday, FDU hosted Merrimack, a Division II school from Massachusetts. It happens to be coach Greg Herenda’s alma mater. For the first 29 minutes, the defending Northeast Conference champions trailed. They were down four at the break. The second half saw the host Knights come out strong. They regained the lead at the 16-minute mark and built on that to earn a 77-62 victory.
Herenda was able to take away a number of points from this game. His team attacked the Merrimack 2-3 zone well, especially in the second half. They defended in their man-to-man in an impressive fashion during that same time frame. The game showed the Knights having some good young talent on board, but the most important thing was the resiliency. Down at halftime with a threat of being upset victims, FDU responded to the challenge by realizing what had to be done and going out to dominate those final 20 minutes.
That last point was arguably the most satisfying to Herenda and his staff. It is a trait any contending team needs to show over the course of the long season.
Guard play off the screen, with FDU defending:
Merrimack in the huddle during a timeout:
With three former St. Anthony players on the rosters, it's no surprise that Bob Hurley and his staff were in attendance:
The legendary Burt Shoobs, who will carry a streak of 878 consecutive games worked as FDU's public address announcer into the new season:
Greg Herenda surveying the action:
Winning brings out the fans, and this was part of a solid turnout at the Rothman Center:
Malik Miller of FDU lining up before a free throw: