Thomas Shea/The Mirror
After months of waiting to step on court in a Fairfield University Men’s Basketball jersey, transfer students Sean Grennan ‘15 and Malcolm Gilbert ‘15 are finally ready to see their year-long sacrifice pay-off.
Both Grennan and Gilbert sat out the 2012-2013 season as per the NCAA guidelines that state that an athlete transferring from one Division I school to another must sit out for one year prior to being able to play with their new team.
For Grennan, last year’s summer transfer from Seton Hall, required him to watch the Stags play out the duration of the 2012-2013 season, whereas Gilbert, who joined the Stags from Pitt before second semester only sat through half of Fairfield’s games.
“[Sitting out is] probably something neither of us have done, because every year between when you’re young in grade in school and then high school, you’re always playing … You know, it’s kind of difficult, because you want to be out there helping your team,” said Grennan.
Gilbert echoed Grennan’s sentiment, saying that he felt like now that both players are on court, they will be able to bring something new to the team.
“It feels really good [to play] and I think that showed in the energy we had in the game [vs. Sacred Heart] and that led to a victory,” said Gilbert.
Neither Grennan nor Gilbert made the impact that they were hoping in their respective Big East universities. However, the pair have already proved that everything is about to change now that they are on the court with Fairfield.
In their game versus Sacred Heart on Saturday, Gilbert came out strong with an incredibly impressive eight blocks, 11 rebounds and five points to round out his all around significant effort.
“My personal goal is, you know, to be, and I’ve talked about this with Coach [Johnson] before too, to be Defensive Player of the Year,” said Gilbert. He is off to a good start on his path to this goal, already propelling himself to first in the MAAC in rebounds and tied for fourth in rebounds. Against some of the tough MAAC matchups, rebounding and blocking is going to be key for the Stags, and they will be looking to Gilbert to lead them in the effort.
In the same game, Grennan netted six points, coming from two three-point baskets; one of which was a critical three-pointer that gave the Stags the 17-16 lead. The Stags are going to look for Grennan to lead them on and off the court.
“Sean is a great asset to our team. he has a great on-court IQ and he tends to know where to be and he seems to be at the right place at the right time,” said Marcus Gilbert ‘16.
Grennan and Gilbert have both sensed that they will be called on to be leaders on the team, since the only player older than they are is Maurice Barrow ‘14. Barrow is the lone senior on the team, and therefore accepts a good deal of the leadership. The one captain on the team is Amadou Sidibe ‘16, who is the outspoken leader and the man placed with the job of keeping his team together through the inevitable trying times of the season.
“We follow our captain, Amadou, and we follow Mo [Barrow] as a senior leader, but definitely between me and Malcolm being two of the other fellows, we’ve had that extra year of playing college basketball than the other guys. So I think we do have a certain little bit of leadership,” said Grennan.
“Sean, for example, he has great leadership, he talks a lot … like saying it to everybody. But he’ll pull people aside and I’ve done the same thing too before,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert also felt that their past on their previous teams in the competitive Big East conference, helped them to push the other players on the Fairfield team.
“Because we come from the Big East, that’s a very high level of playing basketball, and just experiencing and practicing with those players, experiencing that grind, we can implement that to these young guys,” said Gilbert.
The season is just beginning for the Stags and already Gilbert and Grennan have earned their spots among their teammates. Arguably, the transition was a bit easier for Gilbert, as his younger brother, Marcus, was already on the team.
“I had him [on my team] in high school, and it’s just a plus to have him back in college. We’ve just been together for our whole lives so far, so it’s just nice to have him back,” said Marcus.
If both Grennan and Gilbert can keep up their strong play throughout the rest of the season, the entire team will be happy to have the pair amongst their ranks. As the play gets tougher, especially against former Big East team Louisville on Nov. 23, the team is going to need some big conference experience on the court.
After sitting out for a year, the chance to play won’t be taken for granted by these two Stags.