Another hard fought game. Another heartbreaking loss.
The Fairfield Stags had a chance to knock off another solid opponent Saturday night but made a couple of critical mistakes in crunch time in falling to Hofstra 61-56 at the Arena at Harbor Yard. It was the fourth straight loss for the Stags, who are playing with basically seven players after losing three starters — Warren Edney and Anthony Johnson to season-ending injuries and Greg Nero with back soreness. As usual, Fairfield played its tail off and never quit. The game came down to one or two plays. Hofstra made them. The Stags didn’t.
Here’s what Ed Cooley had to say in his post-game press conference:
“I think we had another solid effort. I don’t think we were too smart coming down the stretch at all … turnovers will kill you. I just hope we get enough love when I get on the road next year … questions? (are you talking about the officials?) Take it however you want, I just hope I get a lot of love when I go on the road.”
(were the kids tired?)
“They were not tried, no way. Those kids, they could still be playing right now. We could play another 40 minutes right now. The game was played exactly how we wanted it to be played. We turned the ball over. You guys saw it, three possessions, four possessions. Turnovers will absolutely kill you. Give them credit, they’re a good team and they capitalized on it. I don’t want to take anything away from them, but I feel we hand-delivered that game to them in the final three minutes of that game.”
(playing a zone defense?)
“When you’ve been in the situation we’ve been in the last four weeks, as a coaching staff, you’ve got to do whatever you can to prepare your kids to give them confidence, energy and a game plan. And this is the second game in a row where I thought we’ve executed it to perfection other than the last couple of minutes of the game. That could be … we’ve got a lot of young guys on the floor that haven’t been in that situation. It could be a confidence thing, it could be a play-calling thing. But we’re going to do whatever we have to do to make sure we give our kids a chance to win the game.”
After finishing that statement, Cooley’s emotions kept flowing …
“If there’s one team in the country that can go through what we’ve gone through and give the effort that our young men have been giving the last four weeks … I want to go to his coaching clincs. I’ll buy his DVD’s. I’ll go to his house and clean his house for the information. I don’t even know if the people here at Fairfield, our fans, understand what these young men have gone through. And to have a game like that slip though your hands, it’s hard, it’s really hard, when these kids, I mean, they played their (blanks) off today. Totally had the other team frustrated and now, we’ve got to pick our heads up. It’s tough. I wanted this game for our kids, I wanted this game for our program and we weren’t fortunate. But we’re not going to put our heads down, we’ll keep the grind going, smile and keep it moving. This was a very, very tough loss for our kids and it’s going to be my job to keep their confidence high. This is one of those games where your kids can beat themselves up and we can’t afford that right now.
(Why he didn’t play Crawford or Grzeck?)
“I think it’s a gut feeling like when you get ready to write a story, you got a lot of information, you’re going to keep some things out and add some things in. Today, my story was, play these guys, I had a good feeling. If I can add them in my next story, I’ll make I put them in.”
“We played to our game plan. We wanted to slow the game down, take time off the shot clock, take good shots, quality shots, change up our defense. We played a good 37 minutes. The last three minutes we turned the ball over and didn’t execute. I don’t know, this is a tough loss for me. I don’t care if it’s a moral victory, we’ve already proved that we can compete with anybody. We’re a good team. We shouldn’t have let this game get by. We had this game in hand. We had our plays, we just didn’t execute, we turned the ball over. We didn’t do our job the last three minutes.
“We played the game exactly the way we wanted it to be played, wanted to keep it the high 50’s, low 60’s, the last three minutes it was just mental mistakes. Like coach said, we weren’t tired, it was just mistakes on our behalf. It wasn’t anything Hofstra did, it was Fairfield mistakes and it bit us.”
At least Hofstra coach Tom Pecora showed the Stags a little love.
“They play a style that will keep them in games. They’re a dangerous team. They shoot the ball very well and they were very well prepared for everything that we did.
Obviously, they’ve been snake-bit with injuries, so it’s been a difficult year for them. But their style of play is perfect when you’re banged up. They do a great job with the zone, they run great stuff …I’m going to steal that zone cut, I told my coaches that was something we have to run. I think the future is bright here.”
(continuing the series after next year?)
“I’d like to do that. We talked about trying to do that this year. We had an open date, they were looking for a game but our date didn’t work. We actually ended up being the two teams that flip-flopped, we went to Charelston and played them and they went to Puerto Rico. Originally, we were supposed to go to Puerto Rico and that got flip-flopped but then the date we had open was the week they were in Puerto Rico, so we would have played each other, so maybe in the future we can do that.”