FDU and Merrimack meet for postgame handshake after Knights' 77-62 exhibition win. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
TEANECK, NJ - A few advantages of hosting an exhibition contest are a chance to work on offense, execution and spacing, plus recognition of what the defense is doing and how to adjust. On defense, teams want to work on closing on perimeter shooters and stopping dribble penetration. These ideas are important whether you are in man or zone, full or half-court.
At halftime of their exhibition game, Merrimack led FDU 39-35. Now another potential advantage loomed for FDU: How the team would respond trailing at home in their initial test of the new season.
Trailing 39-35 at intermission, Greg Herenda’s Knights opened the second half outscoring the Warriors 9-4 over the first four minutes to take a 44-43 lead. The Knights didn’t let up. Showing a strong inside game on offense and tightening up on the defensive end, FDU went on to post a 77-62 victory at the Rothman Center.
Balance was the order. Mike Holloway led FDU with 16 points as the Knights had four players in double figures. Tyrone O’Garro (14), Darian Anderson, (13) and Darnell Edge (10) were the others in scoring doubles.
Merrimack shot 46 percent en route to their 39-35 halftime lead. The final twenty minutes belonged to FDU, as the Knights’ offense began to jell and defense tightened. Merrimack could only put up 23 second half points as they cooled off with a 36 percent field goal percentage.
1) Two Big Rs
FDU was resilient and responded. The Knights trailed most of the first half and were down four at the break. Merrimack proved over those first 20 minutes to be a worthy test. Following the break, FDU won the first four minutes as noted, a significant start to the half. It was an opportunity they exploited from the 16-minute mark on. The Knights continued to build on that momentum of the first four minutes to dominate the final half.
2) Mike Holloway is a force.
Herenda noted at NEC media day that the 6-foot-7 sophomore operated out of the high or low post and was very active off the glass. Kaleb Bishop, a 6-foot-8 freshman out of Jersey City’s St. Anthony, was active inside while showing some nice moves in the paint. Malik Miller, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Troy, NY, also showed promise during his minutes.
3) Perimeter shooting
The Knights did a nice job in the second half against the Merrimack zone. Making the extra pass often afforded opportunities in the lane. Down the road, a consistent perimeter game must emerge. Darnell Edge, another talented sophomore, could be the answer, showing a nice touch beyond the arc.
Numbers of Note:
Offensive efficiency: FDU 106, Merrimack 85
eFG Percentage: FDU 50, Merrimack 44
Free Throw Rate: FDU 13, Merrimack 28
Offensive Rebound Percentage: FDU 44, Merrimack 21
Turnover Rate: FDU 21, Merrimack 15
FDU shot better due to their inside game. While Merrimack showed the ability to care for the ball, FDU wiped the glass clean. The offensive rebound percentage saw the Knights grab 18 offensive boards compared to the eight posted by the visitors.
Leading scorers and EF:
FDU: Mike Holloway 16 points, EF 28. In 21 minutes, that computes to an outstanding 1.33 per minute. Holloway also led the way with 13 rebounds.
Merrimack: Ryan Boulter 16 points, EF 18
“We had a good second half, but credit Merrimack. They played that Robert Morris-style zone we always have had trouble with and to date, 99 percent of our practice work is against man-to-man. We struggled with their zone the first half. The second half, we were better offensively, but the key was defense. We guarded people and played much better defense.”
”We shot 6-of-21 from three. Our perimeter has to improve, but tonight, they guarded us and the outside shots did not fall. I did think (Darnell) Edge showed something from outside. Happy we eventually figured it out. We have some good players and a few that are still out with injuries. It was a nice win, as we regrouped and played a good second half. The last two seasons, we had tough exhibition games with Georgian Court and Felician. These (Division II) teams come in ready to play and give it all. It’s a test. Merrimack is coached by a New Jersey guy, Joey Gallo. As an alum, I am proud of the job he is doing with that program. But my home is FDU, and I am pleased with what we were able to do.” - FDU coach Greg Herenda