Not long ago, Fairleigh Dickinson's men's basketball team had a neat story in progress.
The Knights of Hackensack traveled to Piscataway on Nov. 26 and defeated Rutgers, 73-72. Five days later, they rode over to Newark and upset Seton Hall, 58-54. Which made Fairleigh Dickinson the King of New Jersey, if you ignored its earlier 67-63 home loss to St. Peter's of Jersey City.
But then the Knights kept playing games, and the thrill was gone. They lost at Stony Brook last Wedneday, 77-62. Saturday, they lost another in-state game, 77-55 at Princeton.
That left FDU at 3-8 and not looking like a team about to come to Iowa tonight and sting the Hawkeyes. You lose to Hofstra, Hartford, St. Peter's, Metro State and Norfolk State, you aren't beating Iowa. You lose by 100-50 to Arizona, you aren't going to have a one-possession game with the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.
The Knights have had just two home games of their 11 starts, and those two games were played before a total of 1,920 fans.
The first-year FDU coach is Greg Herenda. He was 95-56 in five seasons at UMass Lowell. That's pretty good. Even if his team struggles through its Northeast Conference schedule, it will always have those wins over Rutgers and Seton Hall.
By the way, Seton Hall won at Rutgers Sunday night, 77-71. Rutgers is 4-6. It looks ready to enter the Big Ten with the same kind of momentum in men's basketball -- none -- that its 6-6 football team has. The Scarlet Knights (there are a lot of Knights in Jersey) will play Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and will finish 6-7.
But back to FDU. Its leading scorer has a great name. Sidney Sanders Jr. is a 5-foot-11 guard who averages 18.9 points and 5.2 assists per game. Sidney Sanders. Great name. Two other starters are Mustafaa Jones and Scooter Gillette. Great names. Jones has made 29 of 64 three-pointers. That's very good.
One of FDU's top subs is Malachi Nix, a 5-8 guard from Evanston, Ill. Great name.
No one on the team averages more than 3.8 rebounds, and the Knights have been outrebounded by 10 per game. That doesn't bode well tonight, does it?