News and notes from Fairfield’s 74-52 win Thursday night over the Siena Saints at Webster Bank Arena:
POSITIVE VIBRATIONS: Senior guard Desmond Wade had a minor medical procedure on his injured knee Tuesday and the Stags are hopeful he can return before the end of the regular season.
Wade attended the Saints’ game and was walking around without the aid of crutches. He experienced minimal swelling after the undisclosed procedure and hoped to start rehabilitation work this weekend.
“It’s two to four weeks, we are trying to see if it can be two,” Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson said. “He’s going to bust his (butt) and we are excited about it. We‘ll see if it can happen.”
Wade injured the knee in non-contact situation against Saint Peter’s on Feb. 7 and has missed the past two games. He was averaging 7 points and 3.8 assists in 25 games.
The Stags host Iona on Monday and then Albany on Feb. 23 in the BracketBuster game (1 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena). After that, Fairfield closes the regular season at Manhattan and at Marist on March 1 and 3, respectively, which is when they hope to have Wade back.
“We’ll are going to probably be in some time of groove without him, so he’ll have to come from the bench and we’re not going to overload him with 30 minutes or all that kind of stuff,” Johnson said. “But if we can get some minutes out of him going into those two (final) games, we all know how important that would be going into the conference tournament.”
ON THE MEND (PART 2): Freshman Justin Jenkins appears to closer to recovery from a left wrist injury than Wade.
Jenkins, who has missed the last seven games, started practicing with the team this week and there’s a chance he could play against Iona on Monday night.
“To this point he’s been doing conditioning and rehab with the trainer and the strength coach,” Johnson said. “(Thursday) he got in a little bit of time with us in terms of practice. We are going to start working him out and we feel like it’s looking really good.
“Can it be by Monday? That would be great. I almost guarantee by the BracketBuster, but we could be looking at Monday. It would help to have another body and a kid who’s second to last game or whatever it was led us in scoring.”
Jenkins scored a career-high 16 points in 28 minutes against Niagara two games prior to suffering the injury.
The freshman has endured ups and downs in his first season playing behind three senior guards, Wade, Colin Nickerson and Derek Needham.
In 18 games – all off the bench – Jenkins has average 2.7 points with seven assists and 18 turnovers.
“He’s had some tough luck, some bangs and bruises here and there, but it’s the mark of the kid that he keeps at it,” Johnson said.
MARCUS’ MOMENT: Some times teams get a lift going into the half from hitting a shot at the buzzer. Freshman Marcs Gilbert gave the Stags a halftime lift by shutting down Siena guard Evan Hymes.
The 6-foor-6 Gilbert locked down on the 5-7 Hymes in the final 30 seconds and would not the Saints to get off a final shot.
“Marcus, when he stays with the play he’s a very good defender,” Needham said. “He can recover quicker than Colin and I can because he’s longer. It’s kind of hard to shoot over him.”
The strong defense impressed Gilbert’s coach, too.
“He has something that maybe these guys don’t have, but Derek hit it right on the point where he’s learning from our seniors you got to finish plays,” Johnson said. “All that length and being able to close the distance, but then you got to finish the play and that’s something that these guys have shown him.
“It will help Marcus going forward.”
From Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro:
On facing Fairfield without guard Rakeem Brookins (back)
“They are a tough team to score on, they play good defense. We were a little depleted and probably a little winded.”
On Derek Needham
“He’s a great players and he’s been an outstanding player in this league. Off of the game against Manhattan where he was 1-for-10 I didn’t expect this, but he’s a hell of a player and he made everything. We you play the zone you gamble and they made eight threes in the first half and that kind of broke the game open.”
From Sydney Johnson
On the win
“A bounce back game. The seniors – fantastic – and I’m not getting tired of saying it. A few games down the road, hopefully it’s a long time down the road that we worry about it, because they are going to be hard to replace. It shows a ton about Derek’s character and Colin’s character to lead us tonight. We are very fortunate to get it done. Slowing down O.D. (Anosike) was important because Siena is good, they have talent and we were able to slow him down and that helped us a lot.”