Assistant Coach Chat: Fairleigh Dickinson’s Pete Lappas

For today’s edition of Assistant Coach Chat, we spoke with Fairleigh Dickinson assistant coach Pete Lappas. Coach Lappas is entering his eight season at FDU and fourth as an assistant coach. The son of former UMass and Villanova head coach Steve Lappas, Peter is making a name for himself as a key member of a Knights program that has won the NEC title in 2019 and has been in two of the last five NCAA Tournaments. Some highlights from our chat below:

On why he got into coaching…

Having grown up around the game, I experienced many of the great things basketball was able to bring into my family’s life. Traveling the world, meeting people from all different walks of life, and watching my father and mother impact so many kids’ lives through the years. To watch the amount of hard work that goes into running a successful basketball program and then seeing the hard work pay off with the excitement of a big win or a big moment is something that cannot be beat.

Out of all of the excitement basketball has brought into my life, ultimately, the thing I love the most is the camaraderie of being a part of a team and a staff. This really becomes your family and I think my father did an amazing job of having fun on a daily basis with his staff and team. He taught me that as stressful as this business is, we are all working in a profession we love and so we have to have fun while we do it. The parties in our basement after wins were all I needed to see to want to get into this profession myself.

On what he’s most proud of during his time at FDU…

I have been lucky enough in my young career to work under Greg Herenda, who has done an amazing job of building Fairleigh Dickinson into a force in the NEC year in and year out. We have had a lot of success, having won 2 NEC titles and having made 2 NCAA Tournament appearances, along with winning the first NCAA Tournament game in school history in 2019. We have coached 15 kids who have gone on to sign professional contracts and countless others who have made all-conference teams and won other individual awards in their time at FDU.

With all of the success we have had, the thing I am most proud of is the quality of people we have brought into this program. Coach Herenda looks for the quality of person first and their talent and ability second, and that shows with all of our alum’s who have gone through this program and are succeeding after their college experience. Since Coach Herenda has been at FDU, every kid who has come and stayed for their 4 years of college has graduated with a degree and gone to an NCAA Tournament. That is a testament to a lot of great kids and a lot of great families that have come in to touch this program.

On the chaos and uncertainty of the last year and a half…

The world has been upside down and people have lost so many loved ones. The fact that we were able to play games during a pandemic and continue to do what we all love to do, we are really really lucky. I have zero complaints about the past few seasons; it is a lot bigger than basketball. Yes, we have had to adjust in how we go about running a basketball program but the pandemic has taught me to really sit back and be thankful for all of the things we are able to do.

On the FDU staff’s focus for this year…

Defense has been a huge priority this offseason for Coach Herenda. With such a young team, we are building our identity on the defensive end because we know the offense will follow suit. We have a really talented group of freshman and we can’t wait for the public to see them play.

On what Knights fans should be most excited about…

We are going to play our same brand of basketball except with new and young faces. We will play with great energy, speed, and quickness and will push the ball and fly up the floor. Look for us to come out with a physical brand of in your face defense as well. I think you will see some of the best ball movement we have had since we got to FDU.

I am just so happy that college basketball is getting back to a more normal state and that we are allowed to have fans at the games again. We can’t be anymore excited to see all of you soon. Go Knights!

 

Special thanks to Coach Pete Lappas and the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights program. If you are interesting in hearing from for more D-I assistant coaches, check out our other Assistant Coach Chats.

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