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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko (https://twitter.com/kj_franko) or email kfranko@trentonian.com.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Column: One foot in front of the other, in hopes of finding success


 LAWRENCEVILLE – If the journey to success is a marathon, the Rider women’s basketball team is not that a slick, speedy pro from Kenya.

The Broncs are not a college cross-country star from California.

In this race, they are not fit, fast or even fully functional.

Rider is more like a clumsy teenager who got a ride to the race from her big brother, wears braces and sometimes trips over her own feet.

But if they keep moving forward, first-year coach Lynn Milligan knows the Broncs will get to the finish line.

She knows they’ll get there, knows the route to take, and knows that a few skinned knees won’t diminish the fulfillment they’ll feel when they finally get there.

She also knows that although they’re not close to finishing the race, they’ve made progress. The Broncs (5-11, 0-5 MAAC), who play Friday at Fairfield, have already won as many games this season than they did in the previous two years combined under former coach Tori Harrison.

“From where we started to where we are now,” Milligan said, “it’s astronomical leaps. But where we want to be, it’s going to take astronomical leaps to get there.”

It would have taken an astronomical leap for the Broncs to overcome a 17-point second-half deficit last Sunday against Loyola. They attempted to make the leap. They fell down before they got to their destination, but they almost made it, cutting the deficit to three with 36 seconds remaining before the Greyhounds hit their free throws, took care of their business and got the heck out of Alumni Gym, averting the embarrassment that would have come from becoming the first MAAC team – and only the second in the last two years – to lose to the Broncs.

It was a game that the Broncs could have had.

There are not supposed to be moral victories in college basketball. A win is a win, a loss is a loss, and a missed opportunity is a missed opportunity. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

But teams are never supposed to be as bad as Rider was last year, so for the Broncs, its OK to bend the rules. It’s even OK to take a glass-half-full approach to this stat: the Broncs’ 10 single-digit losses are the most in the country.

You need not be an astro-physicist to figure out that not every team would be content to be anywhere on that list, let alone at the top of it. UConn does not lead the country in single-digit losses because the top-ranked Huskies have no losses.

But when you’re coming off two seasons in which you won a combined five games, you find yourself smiling upon that stat and even, in Rider’s case, showing it off for everyone to see it. Stats that reflect poorly on teams are rarely included in the game notes prepared for the media, but there it is in the Broncs’ notes, reminding reporters that there have been many losses, but no blowout losses.

When you’re trying to build a program from the ground up, you find yourself looking at the positives. You find yourself, as Milligan was following the comeback that wasn’t quite completed, thinking that with an adjusted mindset, those close losses could turn into close wins.

“We talk about fear a lot with this team,” Milligan said. “And when you’re not used to winning, sometimes you’re afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes you get afraid of failure. You’re a little bit afraid of success and what that means.

 “So those are some of the things we need to work out. I think that’s going to help us as we get more comfortable with who we are and what we’re capable of doing.”

The Broncs cannot see the finish line. They cannot even see the halfway point.

But they’re moving forward. A win at Fairfield (11-5, 1-4) would be another astronomical leap.

But if they don’t win, maybe they’ll add to their total of single digit losses.

Maybe they’ll put together a complete game.

Maybe they won’t dig themselves into an 8-0 hole, or fall behind by 17 in the second half.

Maybe they’ll play well enough to say they’ve taken another small step.

And maybe if they keep doing that, they’ll eventually get to the finish line.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments:

Anonymous runningwriter said...

Way to go Broncs. It's more interesting to watch a team with heart work out its problems and get better step by step than it is to watch the teams that have it all clobber their opponents.

January 16, 2008 at 9:39 PM 
Anonymous Scott Apuzzo said...

It is strange how Fairfield is 3rd to last in the conference. Joe Frager has done a really good job in his first year of coaching. I have been to four games and only saw them lose once to Marist. In those games they looked awesome like they could make a run for the MAAC Championship. I don't think their record reflects how good they actually are. I would not take this team lightly even though they are 1-4 in conference play.

BTW: I saw Dianne Nolan at a bar in New Haven during the Christmas week. She is now an assistant coach at Yale.

January 17, 2008 at 1:08 PM 
Blogger Zach said...

So I'm reading your hook, trying to envision this "marathon," but all I see is the image of UConn (male) Huskies sprinting down the XL Center floor.

"Why?" you ask...

Those home uniforms make the Huskies look like they have a big white marathon tag sewn right onto the middle of their tummy.

I mean, I love the team, the coach, the logo, the city of Hartford, but PLEASE- change the uni!


http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/MBasketball/index.asp

January 17, 2008 at 8:27 PM 
Anonymous Stop Rafael Palmerry before his 300th Hit said...

I have to give some credit to that Fairfield Fan with the concept of bringing some Celtic greats to North Benson Road. However, on a serious note Fairfield has to make some key changes. I propose getting a new AD. Gene Doris has been at the helm for some time and no progress has been made. I feel the university should make a big splash and peruse ISAISH THOMAS!!!

Yes, I mean Isaiah Thomas, current Knicks coach and member of the NBA 50 greatest players. We all know that Isaiah will not be back with Knicks next year and realistically no NBA team is going to hire him. Isaiah enjoys the challenge of trying to rebuild and establish programs, why not try it in the college game and Fairfield clearly fits that bill. Isaiah would be great for the university he would create a media buzz that would attract top tier recruits that are looking for a mentor that comprehends the challenges and the environment of the NBA. A recruit that comes to mind that was looking for those same qualities was O.J Mayo.

So, the main question is how does Fairfield get Zeke? First, Von Arx has to open up the checkbook and make him an offer he cannot refuse. The university must understand that athletics can help a school reach another academic level, for example Duke, Boston College and Georgetown. Second, use the Dolan connections and maybe rename the business school to the Isaiah Lord Thomas III School of Business. Third, tell the Baby Face Assassin if Cooley does not produce, you get the clipboard. It is a win-win situation for all parties. In addition, for all those naysayers that say look at Isaiah’s record of accomplishments, I say when you hit rock bottom there is only one way and it’s up.

January 18, 2008 at 12:05 AM 

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