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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sydney Johnson putting his stamp down at Fairfield

Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson gives instructions during the win over Rider/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE

LAWRENCEVILLE — Sydney Johnson wasn’t concerned about his Fairfield Stags staring 0-2 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

He just asked them to play like men.

The rest would work itself out.

“If we play like men, we’re going to be fine,” said Johnson after Fairfield beat Rider, 65-52, Sunday afternoon. “We have a talented team. There are a lot of other talented teams in our league. I’m not making any bold predictions, but if we play like we did tonight, we’re going to be fine.”

Johnson is in his second season at Fairfield after spending four years in charge of his alma mater, Princeton.

He signed a contract extension earlier this month that keeps him at the school through the 2018-19 season.

The Stags went 22-15 in his first season, reaching the MAAC tournament final. They advanced to the semifinals of the tournament.

Johnson has his squad off to a 5-5 start (1-1 MAAC) this year following Sunday’s victory.

“We found a way to gut out a win,” said Johnson, whose team survived a 7:29 drought in the first half.

Fairfield forced Rider into 30 turnovers, using a full-court trap to rattle the Broncs.

“That’s a heck of a number,” Johnson said. “What can I say? Our guys were really locked in. We left some things out on the court (against Canisius) that we shouldn’t have. Our guys were really focused to take care of that.”

Fairfield has non-league games remaining against Milwaukee, Drexel, at St. Joseph’s and at Old Dominion before league play resumes.

The Stags lost leading scorer Rakim Sanders (graduation), leaving them without a true go-to guy.
Derek Needham, their standout senior guard, is the only player averaging in double figures.

Still, Johnson feels like the roles are defined. He’s brining senior Desmond Wade and junior Maurice Barrow, a former MAAC all-rookie team member, off the bench. He inserted senior Colin Nickerson into the starting lineup for Wade.

Barrow scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Nickerson added 13 points.

“After those three guys,” Johnson said referring to his senior trio, “everybody else knows where they stand. They just got to bring it.”

Following Sunday’s win, it’s clear Johnson is putting his stamp down on his new home.

“We’re starting to develop that mental toughness,” he said.


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