This year’s Fairfield Men’s Basketball Team will be different after losing the fourth leading scorer in Fairfield basketball history, Marcus Gilbert ‘16, who graduated last year.

Forward Jonathan Kasibabu ‘19 and head coach Sydney Johnson have one goal heading into the 2016-17 men’s basketball season — to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship.

“I know by getting that MAAC Championship, a lot of reward will come with it,” said Kasibabu.

The team is looking to accomplish big things this year after a 19-win season last year, up 12 victories from the season before.

Johnson, who came to Fairfield six years ago from a head coaching job at Princeton, said that he likes where this year’s team is so far.

“Every single guy on the team has elevated his game a notch,” said Johnson. “We don’t need one guy to do everything for us. We’re stronger as a team.”

Heading into the season, Johnson said that the players were inspired by Eddie Duncan, who played for Fairfield in the late 1980s and returned to campus recently with some advice.

Johnson said that Duncan’s message was to “understand what you are trying to accomplish as a team goal, but make sure you enjoy the journey.” On that note, Duncan told the players to “make sure you enjoy practice, make sure you enjoy the road trips, make sure you enjoy the laughing and joking around with each other.” Johnson said that the team took the advice to heart and will make it their motto for the season.

Kasibabu, who played in every matchup last year, is excited about what the team has to offer in the upcoming season.

“Everybody on the team — it doesn’t matter bigs or guards — everybody is a triple-threat guy,” said Kasibabu.

Kasibabu said that a MAAC Championship would mean so much since Fairfield hasn’t won the conference title in 20 years. Winning the MAAC would also mean an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament, the ultimate goal of every Division I college basketball program in the country.

Fairfield fans have a lot to look forward to this season and the team is counting on their support.

“No other fans can bring the energy that Stag Nation can,” said Johnson.

Fairfield’s first regular season game was against Sacred Heart University on Nov. 11 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. They won in convincing fashion with a big 85-63 win against their cross-town rival. Their next home game is Nov. 26 against Army West Point at Webster Bank Arena.

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