Tobin Anderson,
Photo Credit: JSN

Anderson made career move from FDU to Iona

Tobin Anderson's tenure at Fairleigh Dickinson was shorter than most expected, especially after the Knights upset Purdue in the NCAA Tournament. There was no way he was staying at FDU when others colleges would call for his service after an upset like that. That’s the way it goes in the college basketball landscape when head coaches move up the coaching ladder to one day coach a big-time program.

This was as good as it was going to get for Anderson, which is why he decided to bolt to Iona to be its basketball coach.

No one can blame him, and no one should blame him. Anyone would have done the same thing if he or she was in Anderson’s position. This ambitious coach wants to join the big-time coaches at the big boys' table one day by coaching a big-time program. No one should ever begrudge him for that, even if Anderson was only coaching at FDU for a year after the university took a chance on him.

FDU hired Anderson from St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he won 209 games, including five regular season East Coast Conference titles and six ECC tournament titles. The Knights caught lightning in a bottle as they won 20 games for the first time since 2018-19 and a pair of wins in the NCAA Tournament, including the historic win against Purdue. This never happens at FDU or the NEC as the conference had not won a game in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament until this season.

Anderson’s predecessor Greg Herenda could only be envious. He was hoping he would have the same success his successor had that would have him move up the coaching ladder, but instead he got fired after nine years at the university, which included two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Only Tom Green stayed for that long from 1983 to 2009, but he had no interest in going anywhere else, so he was more than happy to be an FDU lifer until the university fired him as their basketball coach after several losing seasons and his players having academic problems.

Anderson left FDU in a better place. The team played good basketball. He got some players joining him from St. Thomas Aquinas. Remember, Anderson took over the Knights after a four-win season in 2021-22. He got guys to play together and win games. He should be remembered fondly for what he did in his only season here. In fact, there should be a day for him one day at the university for what he accomplished this season. It’s hard to believe anyone will do that again based on the university’s history.

Now, Anderson gets a chance to do well in a school that has a good basketball program in the 2000's. Iona was well-coached over the years by Kevin Willard, Tim Cluess and Rick Pitino. Presumably, he will have time to stay at Iona for a while.

Coaching at Iona gives him a better chance to do well and eventually coach a powerhouse program one day. He was never going to get that here at FDU as much people hoped he would stay.

It will be interesting how Anderson does at Iona. He is definitely going to get good recruits coming from the city and maybe in New Jersey. The competition in the MAAC should be a lot better and faster than it would have been in the NEC.

It’s not like he is going to be far away. We will see him and his teams when they play Saint Peter’s, Monmouth and Rider. We can always go to New Rochelle to watch his teams play.

Anderson sounds like a sharp man when it comes to talking basketball and working with the players from watching him in recent weeks. He certainly has a good feel for the game. No one should be surprised that he did well in his one year as FDU coach.

Some will assume Anderson got carried away when he said he believed his team can beat Purdue, but come to think of it, he knew exactly what he was talking about. He knew how to expose Purdue’s guards by not giving them room to shoot, which played a role in the upset.

It’s why Iona was intrigued about him, and why it quickly hired him.

He could be the new blood Iona needs to reset itself after Pitino stayed for a layover before he had plans to coach a powerhouse program to finish out the final chapter of an excellent career.

This is a great opportunity for Anderson. If not now, when for him? It’s easy to understand why he needed to parlay his success into something bigger right now rather than wait around. With the Iona job available, it was the perfect storm for him.

No one should be sad that Anderson left FDU. Be happy with that great experience he had this year. Life goes on for everyone.

For Anderson, he gets another chance to write another chapter of what is becoming a good story of his coaching career.

This is one we can all root for.

You can read Leslie's Jersey Sporting News columns on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.