The 2020-2021 year was a roller-coaster of emotions for the Fairfield University men’s basketball team. The Stags managed to only win three of their first 19 games, struggling on both ends of the court.
To the rest of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Fairfield looked like a team who was defeated and was going to show no fight in the postseason, but they never gave up.
Finishing last season with an overall record of 7-23, the Stags were not picked as favorites to win their conference championship tournament. Nonetheless, the Stags still had the opportunity to make a deep run.
Starting off with a nail biting over-time victory against Manhattan College, Fairfield was given a boost of confidence and was not ready to leave Atlantic City, N.J. just yet.
With two big wins against Monmouth University and Saint Peter’s University in the quarter and semifinals respectively, the Stags’ magical run was electrified by team spirit and an atmosphere of belief in the locker room.
One game away from a National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament bid, Fairfield would have to get past head coach Rick Pitino’s Iona College. This was a tall task for the Stags, as the Gaels were favorites to win this whole competition.
The experts were not wrong on that March afternoon. Fairfield was defeated by Iona College 51-60, eliminating their only chance to dance in March.
This left a bitter taste in the mouth of head coach Jay Young and his team. “We felt that we were playing well enough to win the tournament,” said Young. “We were disappointed, proud of the effort, but all devastated that we weren’t able to accomplish our goal which is to win that game and get to the NCAA Tournament.”
As last season’s MAAC tournament success was deemed as sort of a Cinderella story, this year head coach Young will expect nothing less than a conference championship from his men.
With an extremely strong returning core of players who know Young’s system and can lead the talented first-years being brought in, this goal seems very achievable.
The season is still a few months away, with the first game scheduled for Nov. 9 at Providence College. This will be a perfect opportunity for the Stags to make a statement against a well established program. ,
The game will be held at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Being away won’t affect Fairfield University students, as they can view the game on the Stags Sports Network and watch from home to show their support!
The season is still in the distance, yet coach Young cannot wait to get back in action and see Stags in the stands. “I’m looking forward to hopefully getting back to some normalcy,” said Young. “I’m hoping that we can just get back to a normal routine of playing and practicing every day, fans at the game and supporting us.”
Mark it on your calendar: on Nov. 9, the Stags will be on the court once again. This season, they have new goals and mentality. Championships and March Madness are the final aim for the Stags.
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