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March 20, 2019

Greg Herenda

Mike Holloway, Jr.

Jahlil Jenkins

Darnell Edge

Salt Lake City, Utah

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Fairleigh Dickinson student-athletes to the stage. Let's begin by directing questions to Fairleigh Dickinson student-athletes.

Q. Can you talk about that second-half performance that you had and what kind of your mindset was taking over for the night?
JAHLIL JENKINS: It was a rough half for me in the first half. The second half, my coach and my teammates kept telling me to keep playing my game and second half was a lot of space for me again and getting in the gaps. Credit to my teammates and that's what happened.

Q. Darnell, you broke Fairleigh Dickinson's three-point record last night. You have had your eye on this for a while. Now it's official, you have 200 made for your career. Talk about what that means to you.
DARNELL EDGE: It means a lot. A lot of great shooters in the school system, so to be at the top of that list is a great honor. So it's all the hard work and all the hours I have put into the gym and working on my game, it's paid off.

Q. Can you talk about what the last 24 hours have looked like for you guys and what the schedule has been like as far as winning that game and coming here. When did you get on the bus and when did you get to Salt Lake and everything that's happened the last 24 hours for you guys?
DARNELL EDGE: We went from the game, back to the hotel, got our stuff, hopped on the flight, right here immediately. So it's been a long night. I didn't get a lot of sleep myself, my phone wouldn't stop going off. So a lot of excitement. The guys were excited so we are proud to be here and compete.


MIKE HOLLOWAY: The last 24 hours have been, like, no sleep, a lot of excitement, a lot of thrills, a great win. My phone was going crazy, everybody was so excited for us and we were excited ourselves and a lot of celebrating and just not a lot of rest.


JAHLIL JENKINS: Same thing Mike and Darnell said. Everyone is just so excited to play Gonzaga. We are getting ready to prepare.

Q. Darnell, Mike, Jahlil, your coach went through a big health scare from the Final Four last year. Can you tell me a bit about how that impacted you guys and his recovery and what it's meant to the team?
DARNELL EDGE: Coach has been, you know, big for us all the time, and I remember last year when he was going through the whole issue, he was always just texting us, telling us, wishing he could be there with us, that is all he wanted to be, there practicing with us. It was big for us to maintain his energy that he brings and we just basically gathered around and just help support him through the whole process and that's what we pride ourself on, being a family.

MIKE HOLLOWAY: My coach is my guy, he believed in me. When he went down, it hit me a bit. It hit me a lot. And I had to like give him a little extra extraordinary effort, as he would say, to give my all this year. And it seems to me like that paid off a lot and we have been dancing. So him going down motivated me and it made me a little upset, but it motivated.

JAHLIL JENKINS: When coach was in hospital, that hurt the whole team. We knew he was fighting throughout the whole time. Last night we were down, so we knew we had to fight for him.

Q. You guys are coming off your first tournament win in school history, but now tell me what your guys' mindset is as you go up against the Zags tomorrow?

DARNELL EDGE: We have won nine games straight so we are playing really good, playing confident. We have to mix a few things up to be able to compete with their length and skill set. Like I said, we are playing our best basketball and being confident and we are here to try and win.


MIKE HOLLOWAY: We know they are a very good basketball team. We know that from last year, nothing is impossible. So we will go into this game confident trying to win.


JAHLIL JENKINS: We need to just come in confident and play our game and follow the game plan.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Greg Herenda, please.

Q. Coach, I'm sure it's been a rolling 24 hours since you guys got your win yesterday. I loved your victory dance in the locker room. Can you talk about when you woke up this morning, your mindset and going into the game tomorrow against Zags?
GREG HERENDA: Want me to tell you the truth? I had these severe cramps in the middle of the night and then I realized where I was and the cramps kind of went away, and I just looked out the window to see what the weather was like and I saw the mountains of Utah and everything went away. I mean, we're just tickled pink to be in Salt Lake City in the West Region playing against one of the nation's great programs and we're just excited.

We won a basketball game, I don't know how many hours it was, and now we are here to win another basketball game so quickly after you win the game. And we flew in and we had a meeting last night about 2:00 in the morning with the team and it was, We have to stop celebrating. You'll be able to celebrate the first NCAA victory for Fairleigh Dickinson University for the rest of your lives. Now we have 24 hours to prepare for a team that is really, really good. Really, really well coached. In their region. We're probably the most eastern team in the Conference, in the tournament and now we are out here in the West Region, so it's just exciting.

It's going to be difficult, we know that. We will take it one possession at a time and try our hardest and do our best. And in totality, to answer your question, I'm really excited.

Q. Coach, with yesterday's big win and tomorrow's prime-time game against Gonzaga, what does it do for the university to be on this stage?
GREG HERENDA: I think last, or two -- was it last night? We did a lot for our university but guess what, our university does a lot for our team. And this is my sixth year as the head basketball coach and each year we're getting there and we're getting better.

But the more exposure that we give the university, the more we let people in to what we have. We tell our recruits that we're in the shadows of the Empire State Building, and quite literally we are. We are right across the George Washington Bridge, in Teaneck, New Jersey, there is the Hackensack River in between and on the other side it is Hackensack, New Jersey. We have a campus in Florham, we have a campus in Vancouver. It's a very special and unique place, and now people are finding out about it through our basketball team.

Our basketball team is infectious. We have guards that can play, guards that are exciting, we have bigs that work hard and can finish and we have a team that's just won 15 out of 17 basketball games, and our last loss was on Valentine's Day. So I'm glad tomorrow is not any kind of a holiday that I know about.

In answering your question, to be here on this stage I think does so much, our President, Chris Capuano, was traveling with us, our Commissioner, Noreen Morris from the Northeast conference is traveling with us. So it's really our shining moment. But we're not here to shine; we're here to win, and we've won one and we're going to try to continue to win. And we know we have a tough, formidable opponent, but that's college basketball. And we have to play very hard and very well to be in the game and to win tomorrow. But that's our objective and that's our goal.

Q. Greg, does what UNBC did last year, does that hearten the hopes of...
GREG HERENDA: I couldn't hear you.

Q. Does what UNBC did last year, in knocking off Virginia, does that sort of add a little...
GREG HERENDA: I know Lane Odom, I know his dad, and he beat us to it, really. I've always dreamed of it. I know -- I was a division II scholarship athlete. And to be a Division I coach and to get to -- I knew if I got to the tournament, this is my seed. I wasn't going to be a 4 seed. I'm a 16 seed. We mentioned it once, the seeds to our team, and that's the only time we mentioned it. Right now, we're playing one game against one really good opponent. There are no seeds.

I was assistant at Seton Hall when Ray Allen was at Connecticut, Allen Iverson was at Georgetown, and there were many pros and you knew when you went into games, you didn't have much of a chance if you didn't have pros. In this day and age, the pros, except for Zion, are all gone, they're gone. So the level of playing field in America in the NCAA tournament, it's this. It's not the gap, there's not -- there's just not -- it's not a reach. So I think you'll see more of it. And I really believe that. I'm not predicting that tomorrow night. I don't know, there's a bunch of games going on. The teams you're getting, they're getting closer and closer. At least I hope.

Q. On that same thing, just from your observations of college basketball, where it's been, where it's going, do you think there is a certain kind of player, kind of team you have to build to win now?

Q. What is it?
GREG HERENDA: When I was a young boy, I used to go to the foul line and start working out. And now the young girls and boys today go to the three-point line. Even my mother, God rest her soul, when she would come to our practices, she was 69 years old, and she was trying to make three-point shots. I said, Ma, start with the lay-up.

Now, it's the same thing. Jahlil Jenkins and Darnell Edge are integral parts of this tournament because they can shoot it from three and drive it. And if you have those skilled players, that game will travel. So tomorrow we -- Gonzaga has those players, but they are bigger. Small is hard to guard.

You look at the running back for the New York football Giants, Saquon Barkley, he's the smallest guy in the NFL, I think, close. He's unguardable. So, that doesn't mean the Giants are going to win, and they didn't. But he's a problem.

We have problems for Gonzaga. Small is okay. And that's what makes the game great. All the kids are out there: Small, quick, skill. Big, slow, strong. That was my era. Oh man, they're big, we've got no shot. Coaches and players look at big and slow as bad. And that's a generational thing. And I really, I believe that we're fast, we don't have a slow player. I can't recruit slow. I can't do it. And neither does Mark. But big, I'd rather be big and fast like he is, rather than small and fast, but that's who we are.

Q. I wanted to follow up on what you had talked about before with the gap. What's the difference in Gonzaga and Fairleigh Dickinson right now? Like, if you look at this game tomorrow...
GREG HERENDA: The difference between Gonzaga and us?

Q. Yes.
GREG HERENDA: Size and strength. They are bigger, and they're stronger and they're deeper. That's really -- and that doesn't mean all that much to me. But when the ball goes up in the air, and you have, you know, 260 pounds and we have 220 -- it's a numbers game. So, I think size and strength will always be a factor.

And I think that's the -- but our strength is, I think we're long, we're quick, and we're athletic. So therein lies the game. Yeah, and I think at that level, if we were to play Duke or Carolina, or who's the other No. 1 seed?

Q. Virginia.
GREG HERENDA: You would see that as the norm. And the 16th seeds are probably who we are: Quick, fast, athletic. But don't sell us short. Mike Holloway is a 6'8" rebounding inside- out player. Kaleb Bishop is as athletic as anybody in America. Elyjah Williams, we were lucky to get him, is like a Mark Aguirre, Chicago guy, he is a load, attacks the rim, big heart, no fear.

That's how I grew up. This is New Jersey. We're from New Jersey where you've got to fight for a parking space. Nothing is given to you. Out here in Utah, you see the mountains and in New Jersey you got to pay the see the mountains. (Laughter.) You have to drive miles to see mountains. Here, it's equal opportunity fun, and in New Jersey, and that's okay because that hard work helped us come back last night.

Q. Coach, you shoot the three-ball really well percentage-wise, I think top five. But attempts, you are around .290 or something. Is that teams getting after you on the line because they know what can happen?
GREG HERENDA: That's a great question. We shoot it well and we don't shoot that many and that's why we shoot it well, if that makes any sense. We try to go to the basket and then if you guard that, which tomorrow night they're going to guard, then we kick it and we step into shots. So we're not coming down looking for threes. Maybe Darnell Edge and we should. But we're driving it, kicking it, and that's why we don't shoot as many.

We led our Conference in field goal percentage and I think we're third in free-throw percentage. I'll never forget, we have a Burgundy and Blue squad where all the alums come back, and I put them on the front row and I call them one of my assistant coaches, because they will tell you how to coach. They'll tell you, Who is going to make shots this year? I'm going, I don't know.

It's come to fruition that the shooting has been our strength, and the strength is we have two guards that can go and that opens it up for people just to step on that line and see it pretty good. But tomorrow they're going to guard both. That's why they are a No. 1, that's how they beat Duke. They can guard the basket or protect the basket and guard the line. That's every coach's dream and Mark's team does that as well as anybody.

Q. In the wake of your health scare last year, what was the most difficult part about coming back? What did you try and impart to your team during that time?
GREG HERENDA: I think my team imparted more on me. And I said it before, when I was in the hospital, I literally was thinking about -- my wife and my son were with me. And then I was thinking about my team and how if I'm going to ask them in a TV timeout to really gut it out and give everything you have, that's what I had to do. I had 104.5 fever with the blood clots and they didn't know -- it was sepsis -- they didn't know why the fever came. I had to break it. They put me on a bed of ice. I went from 104. It was like a timeout. 104, 103 and then as soon as you get to 98 and they take the ice off you, you know what happens? It shoots back up. And they make another three ball. And then you come up and you go... And then it takes a lot out of you.

And then finally, one night, a gentleman came in -- I had all these tubes, not tubes but patches to -- and I pulled them off by accident and he was putting them on me. I will never forget it. About 3:30 in the morning, profusely I started sweating, like scary sweat. I was scared. And he was crying because he's like, Coach, you did it, you did it, you did it." I broke my fever. And it was a very -- I'll never forget that moment.

In Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, have to give credit, the President, Greg Seiler, he is a season ticket holder of the San Antonio Spurs, every morning he was in my room checking on me. He brought the head coach Carson Cunningham, the head coach of Incarnate Word, to my room for a day and stayed with me when I was not in a good place. And the interns, the orderlies, the people that brought the food, the therapists, I was there for 15 days, eight days in intensive care, and without them, I wouldn't be here. And I just thank those people, my wife, my son.

And so to be here, man, your question was great, how do you feel? I feel blessed, I really do, really do. Thank you, everybody.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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