Teaneck, NJ - The line on the stat sheet read ten points, six rebounds, six assists. A solid afternoon’s work for forty minutes. The stat sheet, at times, can be deceptive. Abby Conklin does much more than what was recorded on that post game printout. The 5’7" senior guard has become the heart and soul of the FDU womens team. She is a leader. Not necessarily vocal but by example.
Conklin’s contributions and leadership were needed Sunday afternoon as FDU edged Rider 64-59 at the Rothman Center. It was the Knights’ first win of the season and first for new coach Stephanie Gaitley.
"I’m proud of our team," Conklin enthusiastically said shortly after the contest. "We have a young team and today all the pieces fit the puzzle. This first win just means a lot."
Conklin’s contributions and leadership mean a great deal to Gaitley who has utmost praise for her senior guard. Despite the 0-5 start, this young group without a returning starter from last year, works hard in practice every day. There is no letdown mentally or in the hustle category. Gaitley credits Conklin with a lot of that.
"Basketball is a game of runs," Conklin said. "You can’t get down if things aren’t going your way If you keep a good attitude no matter what happens, that can affect the other team. Coach instills that in us every day in practice."
One thing Conkln also knew would be emphasized in practice as well as games, when Gaitley came on board, was defense. She knew of Gailey’s defensive emphasis and expertise on every stop in her long successful coaching career. "When coach Gaitley came in we knew defense would be a priority," Conklin admitted. It’s a part of the game the entire team has embraced.
Conklin is the Knights second leading scorer at 9.2 points per game. A 40% three point shooter, the Irvington (NY) native has the ability, when open, to make that extra pass, finding a teammate in a better position for a shot. An admirable trait of selflessness any coach would sign up for.
With the game hanging in the balance and FDU holding a 61-58 lead with 19 seconds to play, Conklin was fouled. She stepped to the line for two crucial free throws. A crucial situation Conklin managed it with complete composure. She instantly thought of Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright. "(FDU assistant) Coach Jeremy (Thompson) showed us a video of one of the years Villanova won a national championship. When they needed a big shot or play coach Wright would bring up ‘attitude’. The (Villanova) players bought in." Little surprise both attempts found nothing but net.
The Rider game was the fourth straight game Conklin has logged the full forty minutes. A veteran from last year’s team, she’s been called on for extra duty with so many new faces in the mix. It’s a role she’s embraced. With little surprise given her propensity to do whatever is needed and asked of in order to help the team.