2023 – FDU: Hometown NCAA Cinderellas…………almost
……………………………………………(ignore April 30, 2017 publish date – this was published on March 22 , 2023)
Local bracket-busters Fairleigh Dickinson University gave me a great March Madness idea: since I grew up about 4 blocks from FDU and still live within walking distance (and still walk on both sides of the Hackensack River Walkway on either side of the river through their campus), it’d be an interesting story to walk through the campus just a few hours before the No. 16 seed took on Florida Atlantic in the NCAA Tournament game in Columbus, Ohio, on their quest to make the Sweet 16 that starts next weekend at Madison Square Garden.
The students must be going nuts at FDU, I figured, and every dorm building must be festooned with banners of encouragement.
The obvious place to start documenting the madness would be their home court building – the Rothman Center – on the Hackensack side of the campus. There MUST be a huge rally going on there.
There were cars in the lot, but not that many. I expected big activity at the building’s entrance, but here’s what I saw:
(Let’s get a closeup of that sign in back):
But – other than me – there was not a soul around. Looking back, I took this shot of the uniquely-roofed Rothman Center as I walked north towards the pedestrian bridge over the river:
By the time I got there, I had seen a total of 3 people: a man, a woman and a small child – a family, I guess – coming out of a building.
Now on the Teaneck side of the river – where all the dorms are – the goal was to shoot all the bustling student excitement amidst the nice scenery.
Here is “The Globe” – a gift from the Class of 2008 – with the Rothman Center to its left across the river:
This wide (click twice to fully-enlarge and then scroll side-to-side) view shows some special swings and the Rothman Center………..
…………….and not a student in sight!
There’s more to explore, but first, let’s spend a minute on the swings (figuratively speaking, of course):
Two swings get their own plaque? What’s THAT about?
The swings are another gift………..this time, from the Swinging Class of 2007.
I remember Dr. Sammartino being the FDU president when I became of college age in the 60s (though I went elsewhere).
A tribute to Dr. S: https://portal.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/05ws/tribute.htm
Meanwhile, back to my search for signs of NCAA excitement at a school that would be playing in a few hours for a chance to go to the Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen next weekend at Madison Square Garden.
I swung around to the front of the Teaneck campus on River Rd. Here’s a campus map to show you what’s where:
I’m where the red marker is on the Teaneck side. I’ve put a red circle around the Rothman Center on the Hackensack side. Just north of it is the pedestrian bridge that connects the two sides.
From where I am, I walk a bit north and come face to……..um, face with something I remember well from over 60 years ago:
FDU acquired this sculpture – called “Epic of America” – sometime around 1962 and placed it on the front of their library.
A 30’x32’ LIFE-LIKE SCULPTURE WITH NAKED BREASTS IN PLAIN VIEW ON A VERY BUSY STREET IN TEANECK IN 1962? ABSOLUTELY SCANDALOUS!
But instead of protesting, young teenage boys started visiting the wooded area in Phelps Park – RIGHT across the street – more often than they used to (just to make sure the sculpture was still there, of course).
As I’m taking this picture, wouldn’t you know that a male student with a knowing smile on his face happened to walk by.
“Are you a student here?”, I asked.
“Yes”, he replied with a British accent.
“Where IS everybody? I expected banners and rallies all over the place!”
“Spring break. They’ll all be back tomorrow. And a whole bunch of them are in Ohio for tonight’s game. There’s a big Watch Party at the Rothman Center tonight at 7:30.”
“Oh, great – thanks.”
Nothing’s going on here – time to head back to the pedestrian bridge.
Just before I reached the bridge, I noticed this free school newspaper dispenser – the kind that no one pays any attention to (that’s why it’s still got a bunch of old, yellowing/browning newspapers in it that look like they’ve been there since 1942):
I pulled one out of the middle of the pile that looked the least-damaged:
May 18, 2022 – only 10 months old! I wonder if there’s anything interesting in it.
Normal college stuff:
But then I notice that the pile in the top half of the dispenser has the front page showing while the papers in the bottom half have the back page showing…………..and then I notice a back-page headline of possible interest:
I grab a paper from the middle of THAT pile to bring home, clean up and read (click to enlarge):
With all the March Madness coverage that’s out there, I’m guessing that this might be the only place where you’ll read about how it all began – when it all began – with FDU’s “new” basketball coach.
BTW – it’s just been announced that Tobin Anderson has already left FDU for the same job at Iona, replacing Rick Pitino, who is now the new head coach at St. John’s. Anybody wanna be FDU’s new head coach?
(Note: Too late! Anderson’s top assistant – Jack Castleberry – has been announced as the new Knight head coach.)
So my visit to a deserted FDU wasn’t a COMPLETE zero.
But there was still one short trip to make.
After I went home, I was doing some online research when I came across a single sentence that mentioned something I wasn’t aware of in Teaneck, about a mile away.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m standing on the center stripe of Cedar Lane taking a picture of this banner:
So I finally found a banner, but skipped the Watch Party at the Rothman Center. I watched at home.
Unfortunately, that was a good decision. No one around here wants to see pictures of a thousand sad students.
But thanks to the Knights’ b-ball team for the fun ride. Let’s hope it’s the first of many that go much deeper.