Fairfield men’s basketball Head Coach Chris Casey was appointed as the interim head coach just weeks before the start of the 2023-2024 season. He said his initial thoughts were that it was “unexpected, I wasn’t aware anything was going to happen. When I was asked to make a role change and take the job I love the guys on the team and I love coaching so I was gonna take the job but the other part of it is there are long term friendships there, with guys who are not gonna be there coaching with you. There was a positive part of it and a negative part…What I talked about with the guys was that the season was gonna happen with or without us so it made sense to put our heads down and make the most of it,” 

He then continued by discussing how his experience prepared him for the opportunity, saying, “I’ve been a head coach now four times on three different levels and in a few different places and, you know, I think it helps because to get good at something you have to go through it a little bit and experience it…But in the end it was just a great group of guys to work with.”

Coach Casey started his career coaching basketball with Central Connecticut State and bounced around the northeast for a few years before getting the job as head coach of Niagara in 2013. He coached there until 2019. His head coaching career started at Division III Rutgers-Newark from 1998-2001. 

He also commented on the experience of the team by saying, “experience could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing…What really helped was the approach of these guys and their attitude and their positive outlook on everything. They bought into everything we were trying to do right away and I think that helped us play well. They bought into it even when we struggled early on they’re not a group that points fingers and blames, they just kept working at it and completely bought in.” He continued by saying that “A big part was experience but it’s more so your makeup, what kind of person you are. How do you react to difficult situations and I think our guys did a really good job of that.”

When commenting on what was different this year compared to the past couple, coach stated that, “Our guys played with a lot of confidence this year and that was something we tried to foster. To be a productive athlete and an achieving athlete I think you have to play with confidence and know the people behind you have confidence in you so like I kind of tried to take that approach.”

One of the standout Stags on the team, graduate student Caleb Fields who led the Stags with an average of 16.9 points per game and was a leader on the team. Coach Casey noted that, “the keywork is leadership. He obviously had an outstanding season and I think he was a first team all league guy, it’s certainly an honor to be second team all league but I think he was a first team guy along with Jalen. He played really, really well for us and had an outstanding year but more importantly the leadership was day in and day out. It was consistent and it really helped our team.” He continued by saying, “He was really an extension of the coaching staff. I always feel like a player coached team is going to be better than a coach coached team and he ran with that. He bought into everything we were doing and he was an extension of us and he played that way and he led that way on the court.” 

For all athletes at Fairfield The Red Sea Rising Name Image and Likeness collective was recently started by a group of alums. It will work with the industry leading Student-Athlete Name, Image and Likeness (SANIL) which will help the power of the alumni and fans. It will allow for businesses and donors to support Stags student-athletes.

When asked about the NIL program Coach Casey said that it will “help tremendously…Vice President Schlickmann and all of the other people did a really good job getting that off the ground. We are now in the process of hoping we can get a good number of people to contribute to that collective and support the NIL efforts. Mr. Schlickmann and the university have done a great job at supporting (NIL efforts) and they’re making a lot of effort trying to get this off the ground.”

Coach also praised the fans and atmosphere of the Leo D. Mahoney Arena throughout the season by saying, “I was really appreciative of the tremendous support we got from the university and tremendous support we got from the fan base, students, community members, campus members. That Mahoney arena was electric for most of our home games and had a great energy level to it. People may not realize it but that helps us tremendously and our guys really appreciated it.” 

When discussing the future of the team with so many players graduating, Coach Casey stated that, “I don’t know the makeup of our roster yet. We are certainly going to recruit to play the same style and we’re certainly going to recruit to have the same type of character guys in the program. So I’m going to be very optimistic about what we can accomplish next year. 

  Lastly, when asked how it felt to be officially announced as the head coach of Fairfield men’s basketball and to have the interim title removed coach said that, “It was great, it really was. You’re only human so you’re going to think about it during the season, I’m not going to say it was never thought about but I tried to keep that thought out of my head as much as possible and really just tried to concentrate on our team and how to make our team better that day.” He continued to say,  “I’m a lifetime coach, this will be my 39th year coming up coaching college basketball and I could do it for another 20 if they’ll let me. I love doing it and it’s my life passion and to have that opportunity at a university of this statcher … is an honor.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.