COLUMBUS, Ohio — The most painful part about the finality of the NCAA Tournament for all but the team crowned national champion is for the teams eliminated with seniors having played their final collegiate games.
For Fairleigh Dickinson, after its 78-70 loss to FAU Sunday night in the second round at Nationwide Arena, the loss marked the end for the collective heart and soul of its program, guards Demetre Roberts and Grant Singleton.
The two have played five years together and been roommates all that time, dating back to Division II St. Thomas Aquinas, where they played for coach Tobin Anderson and ending in this past season with FDU after they followed Anderson to his new job.
“They’re like sons to me,” Anderson said. “They were playing Division II basketball for four years and if you watched these last two games — if you just put a neutral person out there and watched these two guys play — those are really good guards. But they’re even better people. I’m sad because I don’t get a chance to coach those two anymore.”
Roberts and Singleton, combined to score nearly 4,000 points in college together.
They were 15-6 in postseason games with STAC and FDU. And, after Sunday night, they’ll never play another college game together.
“Me and Grant have been close for five years, so that bond is never going to change,” Roberts, who led Fairleigh Dickinson with 20 points against FAU, said. “We’re still going to stay the same. That’s my brother. We bond well on and off the court. It makes everything special. I’ll love him forever.”
Singleton, who scored just six points Sunday, called it “a bittersweet moment because you always want to suit up the next game next to your brother.”
“It’s always special playing next to him,” Singleton said. “We feed off each other well. That’s been my brother for five years. But even off the court, everything’s going to stay the same. He’s still going to be my roommate, still going to be the guy I kick it with every day.
“You always want to suit up that next game and play, but things happen.”
Joe Munden Jr., one of the returning players from the FDU team that won four games last year, thanked Roberts and Anderson, who were sitting on either side of him in the postgame press conference.
“Everything that these two guys have done together, including Coach Anderson, has been nothing short of remarkable,” Munden said. “It’s something that you really have to just sit back and appreciate, because guards like this don’t come around too often. I really want to just take this time to just tell them how much I appreciate these two — these three, actually, including Coach. These guys have come and changed this program in ways that I never could have imagined.”
“Last year at this time I was sitting in my dorm room. I didn’t know when the next time I was going to play basketball was. And for these guys to come in and bring us here to this place where we’re honestly not supposed to be, it’s amazing. These are my brothers for life.”