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March 14, 2023

Tobin Anderson

Demetre Roberts

Sean Moore

Grant Singleton

Ansley Almonor

Dayton, Ohio, USA

UD Arena

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

Media Conference

Q. How do you start out 3-6 and end up in the NCAA Tournament? What was the turning point and how did you turn it around?

DEMETRE ROBERTS: Obviously the new coach that was brought here, Tobin Anderson. Me, Sean Moore, and Grant Singleton, we've been with him for four years, so we knew what to expect. We brought new players with us. Our goal was since we played for five years, just bring everybody with us, and start a culture over here, so we're just grateful.

Q. Sean, talk about the start and where you guys are now.

SEAN MOORE: We had a strong start with that Loyola Chicago game; tough loss, nice little buzzer beater they had. But what that game said, we felt like we was going to do pretty good with that later on in the season because they're a really good team. After that game, we felt like we could go far later on in the season. That's why I feel like we're here today.

GRANT SINGLETON: It was such a down season previously. Like you said, the record wasn't there, but with this team, we worked hard ever since the summer. Most people would say that we probably couldn't have gotten here, but we've always believed that we could. We're a winning team, winning program.

ANSLEY ALMONOR: Yeah, we had a slow start I guess you could say, but we stuck together because we're brothers, and we stayed together as a family, worked through ups and downs, and got to where we are today.

Q. Demetre and Grant, you were participants in four NCAA tournaments at St. Thomas Aquinas. Now you're going to the big dance at FDU. Can you describe your careers and what it means to make it to the Division I men's basketball championship?

DEMETRE ROBERTS: In my opinion, like we said before, being a D-II, we made the tournament all four times. In my opinion I don't think no dance is bigger than this. I think experience, we have experience. I think that's an advantage for us. But we're just here, we're just trying to take it day by day, and we're just humbled and blessed.

GRANT SINGLETON: Like Demetre said, we're just bringing our experience here with guys that really listen and really play hard. So the transition was easy for us coming from St. Thomas Aquinas, just bringing that winning culture over here. And the guys came along, and they loved what we do, and we're loving what they're doing right now to get to this big dance.

Q. Can you just talk about your progression under the new coaching staff, and a year ago when the season ended in the play-in game for the NEC championship, now here you are as a sophomore at FDU in the NCAA Tournament?

ANSLEY ALMONOR: Yeah, once the new coaching staff came in, I could tell the culture was going to change. I knew I had to step my game up. So in the off-season I worked on my game, getting in better shape and everything like that, so I knew when I came in I was going to be ready to play.

Q. You guys are one of the smallest teams in the tournament, I think. What's your advantage? Size doesn't matter or what?

DEMETRE ROBERTS: I don't really look at that as that. Obviously I think it's a good thing because we use it as an advantage. Obviously we're the smallest team but we play fast, we play hard, we play gritty, so I think we hold that against any team we play.

GRANT SINGLETON: Yeah, like you said, we very undersized, but we play extremely hard, extremely tough. We use that to our advantage. We don't really pay attention to size. Obviously we're the smallest team in D-I, but that doesn't really mean anything at the end of the day. It's who's playing the hardest and who's winning games.

Q. You're going to be watched by the whole nation tomorrow night. What do you want the nation to see and to learn about Farleigh Dickinson basketball?

ANSLEY ALMONOR: We want to show them how hard we play. We want to be the hardest-playing, toughest team, and we want to show whole country that that's what we are.

SEAN MOORE: We actually want to show people that we belong even though we did not come up with NEC championship as we thought we could, but we want to show people that we belong here and that we're able to play in this tournament.

Q. Fellas, Princeton, Iona, you guys, I guess UConn to some degree are the New York metropolitan area teams representing this region in the tournament. How much pride do you have taking New York City area basketball to the NCAAs? What does that mean to you? Any of the guys can answer that.

GRANT SINGLETON: It means a lot. Like these guys were saying, we're just trying to show that we belong. A few months ago people thought they would be here, but probably not us. But we just want to show we belong and we're here and we're ready to compete.

DEMETRE ROBERTS: I'll answer that. Beginning of the season everybody had us picked last. Obviously with the new changes, nobody knew who we were. Obviously people still think we don't deserve to be here. So like I said before, we're just blessed beyond measure to be here and compete and show people that we belong here.

Q. The three guys that came over from St. Thomas Aquinas, coming out of high school did you have any D-I offers or people overlooked you or they didn't realize what you were?

DEMETRE ROBERTS: Yeah, in high school I wasn't recruited as much. D-I-wise, Coach Anderson actually was my first offer. He offered in my junior year, and that was my only offer I had out of high school. I just stuck with him, and now we're here.

SEAN MOORE: Coming out of high school I only had one Division I offer. Out of all the coaches that was recruiting me, I think Tobin Anderson was the hard-nosed recruiter on me, so I felt like I belonged to where he was at.

GRANT SINGLETON: Yeah, out of high school I didn't have any D-I offers. Actually Coach Anderson offered me my last AAU game, and I appreciate that because he gave me an opportunity and believed in me.

Q. Sean, you being from the Columbus area, what is it like to be back in Ohio and having the opportunity to play in this tournament?

SEAN MOORE: It's actually great because I can actually put on for Ohio so that we hear that -- that's a couple guys here playing in the tournament that's actually from the area, and we feel like we show our skills on the big stage. And I was happy that my family could come because I play away from home, so I'm happy my family could come see me play in person.

Q. Demetre and Grant, together 3,500 career points, nearly 150 collegiate games with Coach Anderson; Demetre, 2,000 career points on February 4th and then Grant hits 1,500 career points a week later. Can you talk about your bond off the court and obviously the work you guys do together in the Knights' backcourt?

DEMETRE ROBERTS: We've been close since our freshman year of college. We were roommates for five straight years. I think that says enough right there.

But with that being said, it makes it easier for us to bond on the court. Points-wise, our teammates is the reason why we get all those points. It's just not us. So credit to them, and credit to our coaching staff.

GRANT SINGLETON: Yeah, just like Demetre said, credit to the teammates, credit to our coaching staff. My freshman year I didn't think I would be scoring 1,500 points, I didn't play a lot of minutes. But in practice Demetre made me better every day. We're two undersized guards. We work extremely hard. Our teammates, we build chemistry so great that they're able to find us and get us those points, and we're extremely proud of them.

Q. Any of the guys can answer this. For someone like Tobin Anderson who's been a head coach in college basketball for such a long time but may not be known to people because this is his first year as a head coach in Division I, what would any of you guys like to tell people about Tobin Anderson that allowed him to produce this winning season for you guys?

GRANT SINGLETON: Coach Anderson is one of the greatest when it comes to coaching. Like you said, he's really undervalued, but he's one of the greatest, and he's showing why he's one of the greatest with player development and recruiting.

Just his style of play just rubs off on the team. He's great at what he does.

Q. Ansley, the impact of coach?

ANSLEY ALMONOR: You can just tell he's a winner. Even though he wasn't at this level before, like he's won a lot. And his first year at this level, he's a winner. Like he could go anywhere and I believe he'll win because of the way he coaches, the way he develops his player, the way he recruits, just everything. He's a proven winner and he'll keep winning wherever he goes.

Q. Obviously you've had success, you've been at this level, Division II, but with March Madness and growing up playing basketball, do you have a memory thinking back to the past tournaments and stepping out on this stage looking ahead towards tomorrow night and what that will be like?

DEMETRE ROBERTS: Yeah, I always watched March Madness since I was a kid, always dreamed of being on this stage. Like you said, being in D-II, no dance is bigger than this one. I would say my favorite memory of this is the Villanova game when Kris Jenkins hit the buzzer beater for the chip. That was the center moment for me for wanting to be on this stage and compete at this level.

Q. Sean, growing up playing basketball, thinking about playing in this game and a memory that you can kind of fall back on, talking about March Madness.

SEAN MOORE: Like Demetre said, as a kid we all watched March Madness hoping we could play on this stage one day. It's crazy because I was at Division II last year, and I didn't think I was going to be here today where I'm at now. So this moment is just surreal. It happened so fast. I didn't think I would be here, so I'm just taking it moment by moment, enjoying this moment, hoping I can continue coming back for my next year of playing college basketball.

A memory buzzer from March Madness would be a buzzer beater, Jordan Poole. I think that was going to the championship, I think.

Q. Grant, I'll ask that same question to you.

GRANT SINGLETON: Yeah, like they said, just obviously a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We watched March Madness growing up. Watched our favorite teams, wanting them to win. I'm from South Carolina, so I watched South Carolina when Frank Martin took them to the Final Four, and that just really inspired me. Seeing your hometown team go, you want to be there, so that was a memory for me.

ANSLEY ALMONOR: Yeah, growing up watching March Madness, you just dream to be on that stage. And like me, I'm from the New York area, so watching Kemba Walker take the UConn Huskies all the way to the Final Four and that National Championship, to step back, Cardiac Kemba, that's a memory for me for sure.

Q. Sean, since you grew up kind of around here, did you follow any college teams in Ohio or around this area? And did you ever play in this arena in high school or you didn't play a tournament here, did you?

SEAN MOORE: No, I never played in this arena or a tournament here in Ohio. But growing up I watched Ohio State a lot because I'm from the Columbus area, so I watched them growing up.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, talk about your team, an overview of the season and being able to play here in the NCAA Tournament.

TOBIN ANDERSON: Yeah, we're excited to be here. I'm excited to be here. On a personal standpoint, just from the journey to get here is incredible. For our team, we're happy to be here, excited to be here. It's been a great year. Like you just talked about, we won four games last year. I got the job 10 months ago, they'd won four, they were 4-22.

So we kind of had of to put together a team in about six weeks, which was not easy at all to be able to compete. We were hoping at that point just to be competitive this year, to have a chance in our conference to be competitive, and things kind of went well. They got blended together.

We have a great chemistry amongst our player. I brought some guys with me from St. Thomas Aquinas who had a lot of success there. So those guys came in, were very good. And then the guys that came back were committed to having success and winning a bunch of games.

It's been a journey, been a roller coaster. It hasn't been smooth, has been ups and down, hasn't been a year where it's been easy for us at all. We've played well at times, not played well at times. We've actually played very well the last few weeks, but it's been a great journey with a lot of support.

FDU is a great school, a lot of traditions, our seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament, I think, right, Jordan? Seventh trip, which is pretty, pretty impressive. And we're happy to be in Dayton. This is great. We're excited to be the play-in game here, we're excite to play in this venue.

And our guys have been -- our guys are competitive. They're the kind of guys that love challenges, so they won't be fazed by what's going on, they'll be ready to play tomorrow night. And we're obviously excited to be here, but not excited just to be here. And we want to win a game, want to advance, want to survive and advance and move on.

We appreciate -- I really appreciate everything that FDU has done. I was hired by two -- hired by a lot of people, but by Athletic Director Brad Hurlbut and Jason Young, our associate athletic director are great people. I appreciate them.

I'm a small college guy, was a Division III, Division II coach for a long time, and most Division I ADs wouldn't talk to me. They'd be oh, that's great, you're doing well, whatever, and best of luck, all that kind of stuff. So I'm very appreciative of the opportunity to coach at FDU and have the success we've had this year.

Great to have my family here, great to have our friends here, tremendous community with us. And we're going to get ourselves ready to play well tomorrow night and advance. That's the goal.

Q. You have I think the smallest team in the NCAA Tournament. That's by design, by default? What's the advantages of that? Is there some advantages, and did you try to get some bigger guys this year or not?

TOBIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, it's hard. I appreciate the question. We've heard that a lot, obviously, being the smallest team in the country. And that's -- I'm not sure we're totally -- I look out there a lot of times and we look kind of the same as everybody else. I'm sure there are certain teams -- Tech certainly is bigger than us. If we played Purdue, they would definitely be bigger than us. There's some times the eye test is true.

But other times I'm not sure we're totally the smallest team. Our heights -- most teams will exaggerate their heights a little bit. Ours might be exactly right or a little bit smaller. I don't think it's a huge disadvantage for us. We play fast, we press. I think we press more than any team in the country. I was watching a thing last night that our percentage of full-court press is the highest of anybody of all Division I teams.

And that's our style so we're going to make the game fast. We have quick guards who want to play up tempo, who want to play fast.

We have New York City, New Jersey guys who are competitive guys. They're gritty, they're tough. They're not afraid of any kind of challenge at all.

We use it to our advantage. We're going to be -- we're harder to guard. Our 5 man Ansley Almonor has had a great year for us, he's a 6'5", 6'6" 5 man, but he can really shoot the ball. So it makes other guys who can't guard as well on the perimeter have to go guard him, and he's a mismatch problem. So we create a lot of mismatch problems. And because we press and play fast, it helps us a little bit as far as overcoming the size.

Yes, would I like to have a Zach Edey in there playing the post, absolutely. When I got the job in May, there was not a lot of Zach Edeys out there, there wasn't a lot big guys out there. We searched and couldn't find guys. But I'm a big believer in having good players. No matter what the size is as long as you have guys that can play and compete, you'll have a chance to win. I don't think it's a big deal for us.

Q. Can you just talk about your journey from a small town in Iowa to going to Wesleyan and eventually making your way from Clarkson, Hamilton, FDU?

TOBIN ANDERSON: I'm a Midwestern guy, grew up in Iowa. My dad was a high school coach there for 30 years so I'm from the Midwest and love being here. I ended up somehow, some way on the East Coast, went to Wesleyan, Bill Belichick's old school, Division III. I wanted to play Division I my whole life, I could play Division I. I wanted to be in the Division I tournament my whole life. Guys want to play -- this is a tournament you want to play in. You want to play in the Division I national tournament.

I couldn't play at that level. I went Division III to Wesleyan, had a good career there. I couldn't guard anybody. I have great defensive players on our team now. I might have been the worst defensive player in maybe all of Division III when I played at Wesleyan, so I was not a great player.

Coming up on the East Coast I've gone from being -- this is my fourth head coaching job. I was at Clarkson, Division III head coach; Hamilton Division III head coach; St. Thomas Aquinas Division II head coach; an now FDU. I've been in the NCAA tournament at three levels, Division III, II and I, so it's been quite a journey.

It was nice last night, Division I tournament is a little nicer, treat you a little bit better, more free Powerade and free Coke and stuff like that, which I appreciate. You get a little more of the bells and the whistles. The flight was a lot better than the vans we usually take to most places.

We beat St. John's when I was at St. Thomas Aquinas seven years ago, went to St. John's, Chris Mullin's first game, beat him by 32 points. It was an exhibition game, we got paid I think $15,000. It was the last paycheck we got from a school for playing a guarantee game when I was at Stack. We drove vans. We drove vans to St. John's, beat St. John's by 32, drove vans home.

To be in this environment, to be in the NCAA Tournament is a great thing for our program, for our players, and obviously for me, too, it's exciting, and we're excited to be here and we'd like to do this and keep on doing it.

Q. Tobin, your players were up here a few minutes ago and they were asked who recruited them, and the lists were pretty short. Tomorrow the eyes of the nation are going to be on these guys. What kind of message do you think they can send to kids and up and coming players who wonder if they can reach this level and this stage.

TOBIN ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. There's a lot of guys out there, a lot of good players out there, a lot of good college basketball players out there. When I played Division III, I went against guys who were really good players. My assistant coach was a D-III All-American, Tom Bonacum, who played in Jersey. Kam Murrell is an assistant coach for me and played at George Mason, transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas, played for me there, was a D-II player. So there's a lot of great players out there at all levels. Every level you're at.

The gap has become less and less because of a lot of things, a lot because of the AAU circuit. Guys are not intimidated anymore. They play against the highest level players all the time in summertime. They're used to playing against great players. Grant Singleton, one of our guards, played with Ja Morant, played with Zion Williamson. He played against guys who are in the NBA now. So I don't think there's a fear factor all of a sudden seeing guys you've seen on TV and being shocked by that.

Yeah, the guys we have on our team, they've got to fit your program. They've got to fit how you do things. Demetre Roberts and Grant Singleton, I couldn't find two better guards. We searched far and wide, we recruit nationally and we'd go to a lot of different places, and I couldn't find two better guards than those two guys for our system, for how we play, for press and run. They're 5'9" and 5'8", so people are afraid of that because they're so small, but they're really good players.

I didn't have to beat out a lot of schools for them. Demetre Roberts plays at Mount Vernon high school, and people who know Mount Vernon, it's one of the best high school programs in the whole country, and nobody offered him a scholarship. People say, well, he didn't have any D-I offers. He didn't have any Division II offers. We didn't really beat out anybody for him. And Grant Singleton, Division II schools told him no.

So these guys what they have is a chip on their shoulder. They'll come out -- it's been true all year long. They want to prove themselves. We'll be in front of the nationals spotlight tomorrow night and they want to prove themselves that they're very good players at this level, which they are, which they've proven.

Some of those guys, Sean Moore who's from Ohio -- Sean Moore I never saw play in person because it was during COVID. Literally recruited him on the phone watching tape. We did a Zoom call on my phone. I took him around campus with my phone. I was taking him around campus, showing him the sights or whatever, he ends up coming to our place and now he's starting int NCAA Tournament three years later.

Same thing, he had no offers. He's in Ohio. There's a ton of Ohio schools. Nobody else wanted him from Ohio. We got him, he fits our style, he's a great player, and those guys have a chip on their shoulder to prove themselves all the time every day, and they're great guys. They're just great. I told people all year long, we have the highest character, lowest maintenance team -- I've been head coach for 22 years. This is the lowest maintenance team. We have no issues. They're on time. Every day they're on time. There's no issues there. They do what they're supposed to do.

I haven't had to deal with one off the court situation basically the whole season, where I think a lot of guys -- you watch the news, there's a lot of off the court. I have none. We're talking about no missing class, nobody like being rude to someone, not treating somebody the right way. They're just great kids. It speaks to the character their parents, their families and who we have in our program.

Yeah, they're a great bunch of guys. But listen, they want to compete. They're not soft kids, though. They are tough, hard-nosed kids who want to compete, want to prove themselves. I'm sure that -- Demetre Roberts is sitting in his room probably staring at the guys he's got to play against and he's ready to go tomorrow night. I'm not afraid of those guys being in awe of the moment at all.

Q. When you look back at your two dozen years of coaching experience, what are maybe a couple of the things that you will draw upon to be the most valuable tools that you will take into this, the biggest game of your coaching career?

TOBIN ANDERSON: I mean, my whole life I grew up -- I was in the gym. My dad is a high school coach so I was in the gym when I was probably old enough to walk. All I wanted to do was be a college basketball coach. When I went to Wesleyan -- all my buddies at Wesleyan are working in finance and Wall Street. They make a lot more money than I do. They have houses and beach houses and boats and all that kind of stuff.

I wanted to be a college basketball coach my whole life, so this is what I wanted to do. So I've grown up coaching, and I've seen my dad coach in state tournament games, in big games, and important games. And just what you fall back on from my experience from being around that, from my own personal experience is just do what you do well.

There's a routine we have. We don't change it up for anything. We haven't changed up anything this week at all. Been the same preparation the whole way through. Nothing is going to change that way at all. We do our scouting report and stuff, we watch our film. Which everybody else does too, they do the same things too.

We're not going to be -- I think there's a saying that scared goes home. We're not going to be afraid to do what we do. We're going to press. We're going to press tomorrow night. We're going to go after -- I think Texas Southern is very good. I think their record is very deceiving. They're actually a really good team. They've been in the NCAAs three years in a row, have a great backcourt, big up front.

We're going to go after them, we're going to press and push the tempo. That's what we do. We play fast and we play -- we're going to throw the first punch and try to be aggressive and be assertive. We always try to assert our will in the game. We're going to try to do that tomorrow night. That's been true the whole way through.

We took Loyola Chicago to overtime the first game of the season. We beat St. Joe's at St. Joe's by 16 points. We played Pitt, played against a good schedule, so yeah, we're just going to do the things that we do well and trust that.

At the end of the day, players make plays. My assistant, Tom Bonacum, this is our fourth year together now -- and we've been in the Sweet 16 every year. So we've been in big games. We haven't been in this environment, but we've been in big games that were important to us.

He always said to me players make plays. Players make plays. It's true. Our guys have to make plays for us to win. There's a system, there's a structure, but at the end of the day, let them make plays and they can't be afraid, and they won't be.

Q. What would be the biggest gym you've ever coached in up until now? One bigger than this, just by comparison?

TOBIN ANDERSON: First of all, I wish there was a picture of the St. Thomas Aquinas gym. I wish you could see where I've coach the last nine years. You could fit our gym probably in this media room right here. There's a batting cage above the gym. It is the tiniest place of all time. It is small. It's like a junior high or a JV gym.

Before I got to FDU, we were always in small gyms. We played in the -- back then, we played in the Elite 8 out in South Dakota and Sioux Falls. We've been to Evansville, Indiana, played out there, played Pitt this year, so we've played in some big gyms and big arenas before.

This place is beautiful, obviously. But I don't think that will have a whole lot of effect on things. Maybe a little bit of the background stuff, the shooting stuff or whatever, but it's the same for both teams, so no, I don't think that'll have a big effect for us at all.

It's nice to play in a great arena and a great city where they love basketball. That part -- we know how much -- I'm from the Midwest. I went to high school -- Interstate 35 High School, my hometown is 500 people, so I'm from a really small town. When we went to play a high school game, the whole town -- it's like "Hoosiers" - the whole town went with you when you go play a game. They'd close the whole place down and everybody would go to the game. I think I played my last high school game in front of 10,000 people in Des Moines.

I'm used to playing where the whole -- everybody supports you. I love the fact that Dayton is like that. Dayton, it seems like they support college basketball. They love basketball. So I think there will be a good turnout tomorrow night. I think people will enjoy seeing us play. I really think it'll be a great game tomorrow night. I think two teams that are going to be hungry, competitive, feisty, want to move on.

Q. I wanted to go back to this matchup against Texas Southern. Is there any team that you played this season that closely resembles the style and the personnel that they will have, and how do you think that might help you in terms of this matchup tomorrow night?

TOBIN ANDERSON: It's actually a great question. I was just talking to the radio guys about that. We try to -- what help the players sometimes is to compare a team you're playing to somebody you've already played. When you've played 35 games, you've played a lot of different styles and different teams.

Wagner in our conference is very similar, I think, and Wagner has had a lot of success. They've been very good for a long time. Bashir Mason was their coach and he got the job at Saint Peter's. They are a tenacious, athletic, tough, defend -- they're going to guard you. They're going to come after you. I think very similar to them. They're not a great shooting team. We all know that. But they can make shots, they have good guards. They're not a finesse team by any means at all.

So I think kind of like how Wagner is. And they really defend, so we've got to be able to share the ball, pass the ball, make them work, make them move a little bit, and do the things that were successful against them.

We're kind of -- that's kind of the comparison we're making to the guys, we're a little bit like them. A little bit bigger, their size is a little scary. We were actually asking if we could borrow one of their 6'8" guys tomorrow night. It would be great to have one of their guys, and bring them off the bench, that are athletic, that can rebound. They're just tough dudes.

That's the closest comparison, just watching it on tape. You never know until you see them in person. You can watch a lot of tape but once we see them face to face, we'll have a better idea. But that's what -- they kind of compare to Wagner.

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