PC Slips By FDU, 72-61

In front of a crowd of 6,585, Ed Cooley and the Friars opened their first game of the 2011-2012 season with a win. While it wasn't as much of a tooth-and-nail fight like the exhibitions against UMASS Lowell and Assumption, Farleigh Dickenson University had its share of runs to keep the Friars from getting too comfortable.

Despite that, the Friars never trailed and the score was tied only once – when FDU's Lonnie Hayes knocked down a three in the opening minute after LaDontae Henton nailed a three of his own to start off the game.

The opening half was an offensive struggle for the Friars. It doesn't take rocket science to know that a new system – especially one that's a polar opposite from their former – to learn is going to take time, but the Friars did a great job of creating looks and sharing the ball.

If the easiest way to judge how well a team is coached is through shot selection, than this team has a real diamond in coach Cooley because the number of stupid or forced shots has been reduced and, even though there will be scoring droughts where the Friars struggle to finish, they will stick to the game plan and continue to look for offensive openings rather than force their shots. They came together in the second half, but come next year when a pure scorer like Rick Ledo or a shooter like Josh Fortune are the ones finishing the plays, fans can expect a much higher shooting percentage.

Where the Friars will win games is through their defense. It sounds as ironic as ever given who was coaching this squad the past three years but keeping their opponent under 37% shooting from the field shows a big defensive jump, not to mention they're playing a variety of defensive schemes.

PC struggled on defense with their press, as FDU was able to make long passes across the court and get uncontested layups and dunks, contributing to the 11 points on fast breaks that FDU gained throughout the course of the game. PC was able to limit it's turnovers to just 9 for the game, an improvement from their last outing, but they must focus on limiting second chance points. FDU had 19 offensive rebounds, a number that will surely grow when the competition moves into the Big East, unless the Friars start ripping down boards on defense. This means the big men stepping up, something that coach Cooley can demand but that they must do.

At the press conference the one person who seemed least inspired with their play was the coach himself. "I still think we're leaving so much on the table," he said during the post game press conference, "I don't think our synergy and chemistry on the floor was very good. I think we missed some easy plays to make. I don't think we rebounded too well."

He did admit, however, that he saw "some growth and development" within the team. In regards to Gerard Coleman not starting, Cooley said that he wants this to become a staple where Coleman is a sixth man, but one that can provide firepower off the bench. Coleman lived up to his expectations for the game, leading the team with 18 points and had a nice stat line of 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 6-10 on shooting and 6-9 from the line with only one turnover. Still, Coleman seemed disappointed in the press conference, evading looks from his coach nervously when the topic of having him come off the bench was brought up.

"I don't really care what you think about it. If you can come off the bench and average 18-19 points do you really care how much you play? What'd you play, 28 minutes? You want a couple more? If you defend a little more, you'll play 40," Cooley said, half to the press and half directly to Gerard. But it's evident that Coleman gets it. "Pretty much do anything for the win…I gotta come off the bench and provide a spark for my team, and I have no problem doing that," Coleman answered when asked about how he felt coming off the bench, meeting Cooley's praises, with the coach responding ,"that's a great answer."

This team is a still a work in progress – Brice Kofane still struggles to hold onto the ball and Ron Giplaye still looks confused out there – but rest assured that the team is heading in a positive direction that shows discipline and an emphasis on the team over the self. With the Friars playing Cooley's former school Fairfield on Monday, everyone wanted to know how Cooley would feel. "Once that ball gets tossed in the air, I don't give a damn about them. They're the absolute enemy," he answered assertively. "I'm the coach of the Friars and they're my only concern. Go Friars!" And with that he slammed his hand on the table and stood up, walking out confidently. Press conference – over.

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