Game #9-226: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights at Longwood LancersDecember 31, 2012 2:00 pm
Henry I. Willet, Jr. Hall
A lot of people hear the name Farmville and think of the popular Facebook game. I often get a chuckle when people ask where Longwood is and I respond "Farmville." Farmville is an old school, southern town of just under 7,000 people. There is basically one street of importance, Main Street, and there is significant history in Farmville when it comes to the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Longwood is right in the middle of the town, but its not the only college in the community. About ten minutes down the road is Hampden-Sydney College, HSC is a an all-male college with just over 1,000 students. As you can imagine, Farmville is a very different place when the students from both institutions are on break.
With that in mind, Longwood has a scheduled New Years' Eve matinee with Fairleigh Dickinson. To counter the holiday game, Longwood decided to offer free admission to everyone in the community. While Willett Hall only holds just over 1,800 patrons, it's nearly impossible to fill up without the students in town. A n awesome environment with the students, Willett quickly transforms into a quiet, sterile environment without them. Last year, Seton Hall became the first Big East opponent to ever visit Willett and they were welcomed by just over 800 people in the stands. Monday was no different as the official attendance was 431.
I doubt Fairleigh Dickinson has much name recognition in Farmville, but I had become familiar with Longwood's opponent as this was the fourth year of a four-year scheduling deal. Longwood had won twice in New Jersey and FDU had grabbed their one win of the series in Farmville. I hadn't seen the Knights play since 2010, but it was funny to see how the teams' faces immediately come back to you.
One of those familiar faces was coach Greg Vetrone. Vetrone is quite a character and reminds me of a character from "Boardwalk Empire." As I mentioned earlier this season, when I graduated from Longwood and picked out my season tickets, I chose them right behind the opposing coach. I like seeing how other coaches interact with their players and on a day like yesterday you can hear virtually everything. Vertrone was definitely an interesting watch as he would work the referees and berate his players. This is a man who is probably 5'8" max and would get about half an inch away from his players faces to totally berate them. It's always interesting to see how different leadership styles work or don't work.
On the court, the first half was made up of runs. Michael Kessens scored six of the Lancers first eight points and he looked like he was going to have quite a successful day in the post. Longwood jumped out to a 17-11 lead towards the under twelve timeout. FDU responded with a 10-0 run, followed by a 10-2 run by the Lancers, and yet another run by the Knights to give us a halftime score of 39-35 in favor of FDU.
Kessens' potential big day was immediately neutralized after two cheap fouls in the post. I hate putting blame on the referees, but his first two fouls were the definition of ticky-tack. With Kessens in foul trouble and playing the rest of the game very tentatively, it set up a HUGE day for FDU's Kinu Rochford. Rochford pitched a tent in the lower left post and just could not be stopped. Rochford is probably a shade under 6'6" but is a skilled rebounder and is built more like a tight end than a basketball player. Rochford finished the afternoon with 32 points and 11 rebounds, while Kessens finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds.
I mentioned Vetrone berating his players, but he wasn't the only one. FDU scored two quick baskets at the start of the second half and Longwood coach Mike Gillian called a timeout. Gillian's job could be on the line this year and with a disappointing season; thus Gillian has become increasingly more animated. During the timeout Gillian slammed his clipboard to the ground and yelled at his five players on the court for a good thirty seconds. Once again, with the sparse crowd you could hear everything and it wasn't exactly "G" rated.
The second half just turned into an impossible chase where Longwood could never put together a big enough run to get it to a one-shot game. Longwood just could not make a basket as they shot 43% from the field and 53% from the charity stripe. On the other end, FDU shot 61% from the field and 88% from the free throw line. Melquan Bolding was another big contributor in the Knights 79-71 win, posting 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Fairleigh Dickinson now heads into NEC play with a 5-7 record. An impressive feat given the Knights went just 3-26 a year ago. Perhaps if everything goes right, this team can challenge Robert Morris and others for the NEC title?
For Longwood, they are a team that leaves non-conference play without an identity. Longwood basically just has an eight man rotation, in which four are freshman and two are sophomores. Longwood's guard play has to improve more than anything. Freshman Nik Brown has really been struggling to run the offense effectively. Longwood will have to improve quickly as they embark on their first conference schedule ever of the Division I era. Thankfully, Longwood's first three conference games are at home, but unfortunately all three will be without the students in town and in front of those sparse 500-800 person crowds.
FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 79, at LONGWOOD 71
FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 5-7 (0-0) -- M. Bolding 8-14 6-6 22; K. Rochford 12-13 8-11 32; L. Robinson 3-4 2-2 10; S. Sanders 1-1 0-0 2; M. Jones 0-3 4-4 4; S. Harris 1-5 2-2 4; M. Seilund 2-4 0-0 5; X. Harris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-44 22-25 79.
LONGWOOD 3-11 (0-0) -- T. Carey 6-18 1-2 16; N. Brown 4-14 3-7 12; M. Kessens 8-11 1-3 17; J. Dublin 6-13 2-2 14; D. Robinson 2-6 2-2 6; K. Ziegler 2-4 0-0 4; L. Woodhouse 1-2 0-1 2; J. Havenstein 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-68 9-17 71.
Three-point goals: FDU 3-9 (M. Bolding 0-1; M. Jones 0-2; M. Seilund 1-2; L. Robinson 2-2; S. Harris 0-2), LONG 4-18 (T. Carey 3-8; D. Robinson 0-3; N. Brown 1-6; L. Woodhouse 0-1); Rebounds: FDU 31 (K. Rochford 11), LONG 26 (T. Carey 6); Assists: FDU 17 (S. Sanders 6), LONG 14 (N. Brown 4); Total Fouls -- FDU 18, LONG 21; Fouled Out: FDU-S. Sanders; LONG-None.