It was the NEC playoffs or bust for the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, and with a 2-14 mark in the conference this season, they missed badly. As a result, it appears Greg Vetrone only has two games left in his FDU coaching career.
Per a Jon Rothstein tweet, Greg Vetrone will be fired at the conclusion of this season. Vetrone compiled a lackluster record of 26-93 in four seasons at Fairleigh Dickinson. After making the NEC tournament in his first season – an interim season – at the helm, the Knights have failed to qualify for the conference postseason tournament the following three years. All together, Vetrone’s Knights had a conference record of 17-53 and combined to win a mere seven NEC games in the past three seasons.
Vetrone’s tenure was unfortunately marred by poor judgment, a lack of chemistry, and bad luck. The head coach relied on recruiting JUCOs and college transfers comprised of talented, yet enigmatic players. Not surprisingly, Vetrone had tremendous difficultly getting his roster to gel and play together as one unit. In each of the past three seasons, FDU finished no better than 11th in the conference in defensive efficiency.
Moreover, Vetrone’s players experienced their fair share of trouble off the court. JUCO All-American point guard Lonnie Hayes was kicked off the team and school before the 2012-13 season after violating team rules. Hayes was apparently arrested and charged with “resisting an officer without violence to his person” and “driving while license suspended/with knowledge” near his hometown of Cincinnati in May 2012. It’s unknown if Hayes’ arrest was ultimately the reason for his dismissal, although when speaking with Vetrone last August, he openly discussed Hayes and the progress he had made from his broken foot. Obviously, it didn’t work out.
Besides Hayes, four players – Sekou Harris, Kinu Rochford, Sidney Sanders, Jr., and Dylan Moody – were suspended at the beginning of the 2012-13 season for violation of team rules. FDU infamously made the trip to Xavier for their season opener with only seven scholarship players in uniform. The Knights lost the game, 117-75. In all, those four players missed a total of eight combined games to begin the season. It was an unfortunate distraction in a pivotal season for Vetrone.
With their season hopelessly spiralling out of control near the end, Rochford allegedly quit at halftime of their eventual blowout loss to Robert Morris in Moon Township, PA last Thursday. Rochford, who’s currently leading the NEC in efficiency rating, reportedly refused to play in the second half. It’s unknown whether he’ll suit up for the Knights’ final two home games.
Injuries also played a significant role toward Vetrone’s lack of success. Freshman power forward Myles Mann, a player Vetrone swore would be his starting power forward if healthy this past season, tore his ACL last June. The aforementioned Hayes broke his foot 11 games into the 2011-12 season, leaving the Knights’ roster devoid of a point guard for the remainder of the year. Another JUCO transfer, Lonnie Robinson, struggled with a bad knee in the same season and needed surgery afterwards. And notable defensive stopper Yves Jules missed a majority of the 2012-13 season with a lower leg injury.
It ended up as a perfect storm in Vetrone’s four seasons following Tom Green, who spent the previous 26 seasons as FDU’s head coach. Even though he led FDU to four NCAA tournament appearances during his tenure, Green was unexpectedly canned by FDU athletic director David Langford. Now, Langford must clean up the mess he started nearly four years ago when he gave the embattled Vetrone his first college head coaching job.
The Knights conclude their hapless season at home, hosting Wagner on Thursday evening and Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday night.
Ryan Peters covers Northeast Conference men’s basketball for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride