Don’t Tell FDU They Can’t Upset Purdue: ‘I Think We Can Beat Them’

COLUMBUS, Ohio – They move forward, unafraid.

The coach and his two fifth-year senior small guards—all three II. A year removed from the league—and the five returning players were on a 4-22 team a year ago.

without fear


So what if the opponent, Purdue, has won 29 of its 34 games, is the reigning Big Ten champion and is a 25-point favorite in Friday’s 6:50 p.m. NCAA Tournament first-round game?

Fairleigh Dickinson, thoroughly enjoying her March Madness ride, doesn’t give a damn.

A video of FDU’s postgame celebration after Wednesday night’s First Four win over Texas Southern is a testament to the Knights’ moxie that got FDU coach Tobin Anderson pumping up his players.

“I want Purdue to see this,” Anderson told his players. “I came in for breakfast this morning and what did you say, Kam (Murrell, one of his assistant coaches)? ‘The more we see Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.’ Let’s go and shock the world.”

Underweights playing with house money can be dangerous dogs in the yard.

Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tobin Anderson with running back Demetre Roberts during the First Four game against Texas Southern on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.Getty Images

Purdue found that out the hard way in last year’s NCAA Tournament, when it knocked off No. 15 Saint Peter’s in the Sweet 16.

So about the video.

“Yeah, I probably didn’t want that,” Anderson said Thursday with a wry smile. “But … I want our guys to believe. Part of being successful is believing that we have a chance to win. That’s how we think. We think we have a chance to win.”

“Listen, they’re the big dogs in this fight,” Anderson said of Purdue. “They’re the Big Ten champions, they won the Big Ten by four games, one of the best teams in the country. They will come after us. We have to bear that. We have to take some punches and keep hitting and keep fighting. We have to be fighters, tough, tough, that’s what we’ve been.”

Asked if it was dangerous to introduce the bear with that video, Anderson said, “I don’t think Purdue needs any extra motivation because they lost to Saint Peter’s in the NCAA Tournament last year. They’re trying to win a national championship. I probably gave them a little bit of that right there. But that It’s going to tear us up a little bit. We’re going to be more for it. I told the guys, ‘Sorry, guys. We’re going to have to back it up.”’

FDU’s seasoned backcourt tandem of Demetre Roberts and Grant Singleton, respectively, led Anderson to St. The 5-foot-8, 5-9 guard brought over from Thomas Aquinas College has no problem guarding their coach.

They have been doing this for five years.

Anderson, Roberts and Singleton are a combined 14-5 in postseason games, the NCAA Division II. Four division championships and Wednesday night’s First Four victory.

Fairleigh Dickinson’s Grant Singleton makes a move against Texas Southern on Wednesday. Getty Images

“Grant and Demeter know how to win in big situations,” Anderson said. “I don’t tell them much before the game. When I look into Demeter’s eyes and see them glazed over, I feel pretty good about what’s going to happen. He looks around and thinks he should be here. That’s how he is. This is no surprise to him.

“When you’re a 5-8 guard, who’s been told your whole life you’re not good enough, from Mount Vernon, New York, growing up like that, you see guys go to Division I, and you don’t think Demetre Roberts is a middling Division I guard? He’s an awesome keeper. I wouldn’t trade it for anyone.”

He wouldn’t trade Singleton either.

They are a package.

“Demetre is the alpha dog,” Anderson said. “Demetre is a thermostat. He sets the temperature. When Demeter plays well, that’s what Grant brings. Give Demeter’s type of nutrition. They make each other better. Demeter has scored 2,000 points. Grant has earned 1,500 college credits. That’s a combined 3,500 varsity points in every game they played together.

“How many backcourts at the college level have that experience in game-wise, successful in game-wise?”

Anderson will need the best both have to offer on Friday night.

He was so impressed with how flawlessly his players executed the game plan Wednesday night that he joked with how little he had to practice in the game, how he was left out.

“We’ve got to step it up a notch (Friday) night,” Anderson said. “The best game we can play. … I think it’s still there for us, but it’s going to have to be (Friday) night. And I think it’s there for us.”

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