Team preview: Fairfield

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

When Ed Cooley stood at the podium at his introductory press conference after being hired as the head coach at Fairfield on April 11, he borrowed a phrase from Boston College head coach Al Skinner, his friend and mentor.

"I want to get you to a level where we deserve and where we belong," he told those assembled while sharing his vision for a Stags' program that is expected to challenge for the MAAC championship on a consistent basis.

Skinner used those same words on April 17, 1997 when telling Cooley and the other members of the Rhode Island staff that they were moving on to their next challenge at Boston College.

Cooley's next challenge will be to try to have success with the Stags that is similar to what Skinner has enjoyed with the Eagles (175-108, five 20-win seasons). He plans to play the same style Skinner does at BC, but isn't quite sure what an Ed Cooley team will look like.

"That's a good question," said Cooley, who succeeds Tim O'Toole, who went 112-120 in eight seasons and announced he wouldn't return in a post-game press conference moments after Fairfield's MAAC Tournament loss to Niagara. "I have to find out what our team is. You can look for a team that is going to be very aggressive offensively and defensively and can get up and down the court. We want to be a physical, full-court team."

There was just one problem with that physical thing, as Cooley noticed when he arrived at Fairfield.

"I think the obvious need was size," Cooley said. "I
like to be long and athletic. We are looking for big
guys who can pass, catch and shoot and wings that can create offense."

So he and his staff went out and found them, signing three players in the first five weeks. Taking it one step further, four of the five members of the freshman class are 6-7 or taller.