Blogs > The Full-Court Press

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 ( or email

Monday, April 28, 2008

They've got Tha Beet.

Big news today on the Big East and national fronts:
UConn center Hasheem Thabeet will return to Storrs for his junior year, rather than enter the NBA draft, in which he likely would have been a mid-first round pick.
The Huskies will almost certainly enter the season as the favorites to win the Big East and in the top five in the country.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two signees and one new coach

Today is the beginning of the spring signing period, and Rider officially inked 6-7 forward Brandon Penn and 6-6 guard Novar Gadson to letters of intent. 
Penn and Gadson -- both from Philadelphia -- join Jermaine Jackson, a 6-8 forward from Reading, Pa., in the Broncs' class of 2008. 
Penn averaged 27.4 points and 16 rebounds this past season at Paul Robeson High School, while Gadson averaged 22.5 points, 12 rebounds and six assists at John Bartram High, where he broke the school scoring record previously held by Joe "Jelleybean" Bryant, the father of NBA MVP candidate Kobe Bryant. 
While the Broncs and many other teams were signing recruits, Marist was getting ready to sign a coach. 
According to multiple reports, the Red Foxes were finalizing a deal with Memphis assistant Jose "Chuck" Martin. 
Martin, who played at Monmouth when both Rider and Marist were in the Norhteast Conference, was an assistant under Bobby Gonzalez at Manhattan. 
And he has a more distant connection to the Fairfield program: he played at Saint Raymond's HIgh School in the Bronx, where Stags radio announcer John Cummings is on the faculty.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Local connections

I looked at the Kansas roster to see if any of the national champions were from New Jersey, but the closest thing I came up with was Russell Robinson, who played at Rice High School in the Bronx. 
But there was some news with a Jersey flavor yesterday: Former Princeton standout and Brown coach Craig Robinson (who doubles as Barack Obama's brother-in-law) was introduced as the head coach at Oregon State. 

Monday, April 7, 2008

Coaching in North Jersey

If Tim O'Toole is going to get back into the college coaching mix, it won't be this year at NJIT. 
The Highlanders, coming off the worst season in NCAA history, have hired former Rider and Columbia assistant Jim Engles to take over their program, according to the Associated Press. 
Engles was Don Harnum's top assistant in Lawrenceville for six years, before joining the staff at Columbia. The Lions went 14-15 this year and 7-7 in the Ivy League. 
O'Toole, who coached at Fairfield from 1998-2006 and is now a studio analyst for Sportsnet New York, had been among the other candidates. 
While one school that plays its home games in Newark is bringing in a new coach, the other school that calls Newark its basketball home -- Seton Hall -- is reportedly considering firing one. 
The New York Post reported that Bobby Golzalez could be on his way out, though Seton Hall athletic director Joe Quinlan says the former Manhattan coach (and MAAC Coach of the Year) isn't going anywhere. 

Friday, April 4, 2008

CBI here to stay?

Gazelle Group president Rick Giles told the Associated Press yesterday that the CBI is here to stay. 
The championship series, which concludes tonight when Bradley plays Tulsa in a decisive Game 3, has been a hit at the box offices at both schools, with the Braves drawing better than 9,000 for Game 2, which they won to extend the series. 
Giles' view as that after a shaky start in which the tournament field wasn't announced until 2 a.m. on the Monday after Selection Sunday and first-round attendance and enthusiasm was lacking, the CBI gained momentum and attention from the fans of teams still playing. 
The attendance figures in the championship series certainly support that claim. 
I thought the most interesting part of the story was this: 
Giles said one factor was a cease-and-desist letter that the NIT sent to the CBI a day earlier (before Selection Sunday). 
"That really got us all screwed up. They were telling teams, 'Don't play in this event. 'Don't talk to these guys,'" said Giles. 
Here's my take on the situation: 
From the minute I first read about the CBI, I had mixed feelings about it. 
One one hand, I love mid-major college basketball. Selfishly, I wanted Rider to keep playing this year because it meant that my basketball season would be extended. And I think for players, coaches, and other people very close to the teams -- cheerleaders, band members, school administrators, and yes, beat writers -- the CBI is great. 
But you can't have a tournament solely for the purpose of fulfilling the dreams of teams and people immediately connected to those teams. If you're going to do that, you might as well let all 341 Division I teams play in postseason tournaments. 
The CBI, therefore, will only work if the concept of a third tournament ends up making money --- or at least not losing it -- for the participating schools and the Gazelle Group. 
Each school had to fork over $60,000 to host first-round games, and several teams -- including Old Dominion, which hosted Rider -- lost thousands of dollars by hosting a game. 
Essentially, then, teams like ODU were making an investment. 
The Monarchs took a loss on the game in hopes that playing in the postseason would be in the short term and long term interest of the program. 
In the short term, ODU's players got to play an extra two games. In the long term, the question is: will the effect of playing in the postseason help them with recruiting, marketing he program, and building toward future success? 
Maybe it will. Maybe not. 
This year, eight teams thought it was worth the investment to host a first-round game. Several teams -- Wake Forest, New Mexico State and Alabama, to name three -- didn't. They decided to call it a year rather than play in the CBI, which delivered a blow, in my opinion, to the CBI's viability. 
I'm interested to see what happens with the CBI going forward, and I'll have to get Rick Giles on the phone or go see him sometime soon to get a better handle on this. 
Giles says the tournament is here to stay, but there hasn't been an announcement for a TV deal or any kind of sponsorship for next year's tournaments. And ultimately, you can only have a tournament if you have enough credible teams who want to play. 
Let's hear some feedback. 
Rider fans: did it mean anything to you that the Broncs played in the CBI, or did you feel that the season ended with the blowout loss to Siena in the MAAC tournament title game? 
Fairfield and other MAAC fans: did you pay any attention to the CBI even though your team wasn't in it? And if your team WAS in it, do you think it would have provided a major boost for your team's program? 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Moving forward

It's been a while since the TCBH had an update, but I wanted to drop a few notes: 
  • The TCBH won't have daily action during the off-season, but its two cousins -- the Trentonian Thunder blog and the Rutgers football blog -- will. The Thunder Blog will take over as the place you can find daily updates and musings, but the RFB will be pretty busy too, especially since spring practice is going on now. 
  • I had UMass in the NIT final in my pool, but got the other three Final Four teams all wrong, leaving me in 14h place out of 23 in my pool. I'm not in an NCAA pool, but I got three out of four right, with the one miss being Texas over Memphis in the South. I did not enter a CBI pool, nor did I make any kind of projections, but it looks like Tulsa-Bradley has been a pretty good championship series so far. The only problem: I don't think there's been close to enough interest across the board, fan support or TV ratings to keep this thing going in the long term. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the first and last CBI. 
  • Too bad Siena didn't move past Villanova and into the Sweet Sixteen. That would have been great for the MAAC. But the Saints put on a show when they crushed Vanderbilt in the first round. And here's the scary thing: they have all five starters back, making them the prohibitive favorite to repeat next year as MAAC champs. 
  • Tommy Dempsey was contacted by officials at James Madison when they were conducting a coaching search that eventually led them to select another MAAC guy -- Marist's Matt Brady. Dempsey talked to the Dukes before deciding his heart was definitely at Rider, where he'll remain for the time-being and where his team has four starters back after winning a share of the MAAC regular season title. (Of course, the one starter the Broncs are missing is a likely first-round draft pick). I think both Dempsey and Brady made the right decision. Despite losing Thompson, there's hope in the future at Rider, so leaving for one of the lesser jobs in the CAA wouldn't have made sense. Not when a few more big years could lead to an A-10 job or a better job in a conference like the CAA. But Brady's stock is still high two years after leading the Red Foxes to a regular season title and a first-round NIT win, and it would have been destined to plummet next year, when the Red Foxes will be lucky to finish seventh in the MAAC. 
  • My best stab at ranking the MAAC teams in 2008-09, which optimistically speaking,  is only 6 1/2 months away: 1) Siena; 2) Fairfield; 3) Niagara; 4) Rider; 5) Iona; 6) Manhattan; 7) Loyola; 8) Saint Peter's; 9) Canisius; 10) Marist.                                             
I'll go into much more detail on the MAAC picks in a later post. Until then, we need some hits on the Thunder and Rutgers blogs, so check 'em out, tell some friends, and leave some comments with feedback, analysis and suggestions.