FAIRFIELD -- The Needham and Nickerson Show returns for at least one more performance before it leaves Fairfield University.
When the Stags tip off Wednesday night at Kent State University in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, seniors Derek Needham and Colin Nickerson will receive one more crack at becoming the first basketball class at Fairfield to win at least 20 games in all four seasons. The game was moved to Wednesday after the Stags were unable to fly out Monday night due to inclement weather.
The Stags (19-15) have been off since March 10 after losing to Manhattan in the semifinals of the MAAC tournament in Springfield, Mass. The Golden Flash (20-13) also lost in their conference tournament's semifinal round to eventual MAC champion Akron.
"The first couple days (after the loss) it was tough, but right now playing any college basketball to me is a blessing," said Needham, who missed Fairfield's run to the CIT semifinals last season with a broken left foot. "Whatever I can do to extend my career here, I'm going to do it."
Nickerson comes into the game already the school's all-team leader in games with 137, moving past Ryan Olander in the loss to the Jaspers, and has played in four consecutive postseason tournaments, including twice in the CIT. Needham ranks third all-time with 130 games.
"Losing the MAAC was hard, but now we have to move on and try to achieve some other goal that we can get," Nickerson said. "We've played in basically all of them (tournaments) but the NCAA and we've had at least one win in each one. It's not a bad thing if we can make a run in this, it will just be adding on to our record."
Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson said the plan for the CIT won't change much from the one the Stags implemented trying to win a MAAC championship.
"We will tinker with the line up if it's a personnel thing, but we are treating this like we haven't moved on to next season or anything," said Johnson, who became a father for the third time last Friday when wife, Jennifer, delivered another baby girl. "We want to give our guys the greatest chance to win and continue to keep playing."
The Stags, including senior guard Desmond Wade (knee), should be at full strength for the game.
"Dez has struggled since he's come back, but he's healthy," Johnson said. "His timing is off and his legs are quite what they were earlier in the season, but that's just him not being 100 percent, but he is healthy as is everyone else."
Fairfield lost to Mercer in the CIT semifinals last season and Creighton in the second round in 2010 after a memorable 101-96 overtime win at George Mason.
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