For the seventh time in the program's history, the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights made it to the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It comes as a surprise the team got in considering the fact it's their first season with a new leader at the helm. The Knights overcame some skepticism and are proving that they are division one contenders of College Basketball.

New coach

After finishing the 2021-2022 season with a 4-22 record, the Knights decided to make some changes heading into next season, and it started with parting ways with head coach Greg Herenda, who finished with his nine year term with a 105-164 record and leading the program to two tournament appearances, including the first win in program history in 2019.

In searching for a new head coach, they decided to go with someone who was familiar with New York-New Jersey area. On May 3 of last year, the school announced the hiring of Tobin Anderson as the new coach to head up the men's program.

For the past nine years, Anderson was the head coach of the St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans, a division two school in Sparkill, NY. During that time, he led his teams to the tournament seven times, including four appearances in the sweet sixteen and one elite eight appearance. In the previous season, he led the St. Thomas squad to a 28-5 record, reaching the Division II east regional final. In taking over the Knights, Anderson brought along some of his fellow players from St.

Thomas, including guards Demetre Roberts and Grant Singleton, who are both graduate students, along with junior forward Sean Moore. With the Knights program taking on a whole new look, the team was ready for the start of the season.

Amazing season

The Knights opened the season on Nov. 7 on the road against the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers.

Both teams fought hard and the game went into overtime, but the Knights would fall short, losing 88-82. The next 13 games saw the Knights winning six of them, but when conference play rolled around, things took a turn for the team. Winning the first five games of conference play, the Knights showed that they were eyeing to finish well.

They finished the regular season with a 17-14 record, and a 10-6 record in conference play, tied second with LIU Brooklyn.

The NEC tournament would be a bit different this year as the number one seed Merrimack College Warriors would not be participating in the tournament due to their four year transition into Division one, which will be completed by next season. The Knights proceeded to win against St. Francis Brooklyn and Saint Francis University, the latter clinching them a spot in the tournament, to make it to the conference title game. against Merrimack. Even though they clinched a spot in march madness, the Knights wanted to keep up their great work with a conference title to show how good of team they were.

The title game took on Mar. 7 and it was a close game from the start. By the end of the first half, the Knights were down 28-26, but not the slightest deterred. It would be more back and forth with both teams keeping the game close, but with 2:59 left, the Knights took a seven point lead on a three pointer from Singleton. However, the Warriors started fighting back, and managed to tie it up with 39 seconds to go. After getting fouled with eight seconds left, Warriors guard Jordan McCoy went to the free throw line and made one of two shots to put his team up by one. Pressed for time, Moore tried to sink a three to take the lead but would fall short as the Warriors won 67-66 in a close contest.

For the Knights, the real challenge would take place in the tournament.

The game

The Knights started their tournament appearance facing off against the Texas Southern Tigers in the first four section on Mar. 16 in Dayton, OH. From the start of the game, the Knights took control of the ball and played aggressively, going on a 10-2 run, as well as making up for the fact that they were the shortest team in the tournament, with an average height of 73.4 inches. By the end of the first half, the Knights led 45-29, as well as hitting seven out of 15 shots from behind the arc while the Tigers were zero and eight from three point range.

The second half didn't show any change in the Knights play as they continued to dominate, when with 9:24 remaining, the team went on a 13-4 run for the next three minutes of the game.

A couple of three pointers from sophomore forward Ansley Almonar put the Knights up by 25 and it sealed the deal for the Knights as they won 84-61 to advance. With their second tournament win in team history, the Knights will face their biggest challenge as they take on the number one seed Purdue Boilermakers, which will take place on Friday.