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The Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog is back and improved. We'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about Rider and Princeton hoops as well as the college basketball landscape.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Backup backcourt comes through

Tommy Dempsey started four guards tonight against Monmouth, and none of them did much of anything to help the Broncs offense.

Harris Mansell, still recovering from the elbow sprain he suffered in the season opener, finished 1-for-8 from 3-point range. Ryan Thompson (1-for-5) wasn't much better, and neither were Lamar Johnson (2-for-7) or Justin Robinson (0-for-2).

Add that up and despite getting enough open looks against Monmouth's matchup zone defense, that group finished 4-for-22 from long range (18 percent) and 13-for-36 from the floor (36 percent) and scored 34 points despite combining to take 38 percent of Rider's shots.

Thankfully for Rider, Matt Griffin and Pat Mansell were as good as the starters were bad. Griffin replaced Justin Robinson less than two minutes in, played for all but four minutes from that point on, and finished with six points on 2-of-4 shooting, five assists and -- here's the big number, especially given how close the game was until the final minutes -- no turovers.

It seemed like every time Pat Mansell was open, Griffin found him, and that led to Mansell finishing with 12 points (one shy of his career high, set last year against Penn State) on 4-of-5 3-point shooting.

Dempsey said after the game that Mansell and Griffin, who he said are in the gym together every morning before anyone else, are the two "hardest workers in the program." If that's the case, it certainly paid off tonight.

A few other stats that stand out in the box: Monmouth (1-10, 0-2 NEC) had 14 assists and 21 turnovers. Those numbers were 19 and 14, respectively, for Rider -- 14 and 14 if you remove Griffin. ... Astoundingly, given the relatively small gap in turnovers, Rider scored 23 points off turnovers, Monmouth only two. ... The Broncs outscored the Hawks 10-0 in fast-break points. ... In spite of the efforts by Griffin and Mansell, the Hawks' bench outscored the Broncs' 34-28. ... Rider was just 7 of 13 from the free-throw line. ... Mike Ringgold had a season-low four points in 29 minutes. ... Monmouth's Alex Nunner had a season-high 13 points and 6-foot-9 center Dutch Gaitely -- who usually plays like he's 5-9 -- had a career-high-tying 12 rebounds.

And a few other notes that I couldn't fit in the paper: If you were at the game or watching on the web stream, you may have seen Justin Robinson grimace when he exited the game early in the second half, then hold his surgically repaired knee when he was on the bench. I asked Dempsey if Robinson was OK, and the coach said the point guard just asked for a quick sub, and that he wasn't hurt. Robinson did return later in the half to briefly spell Griffin. ... Dempsey said Jermaine Jackson, who didn't play, didn't re-injure his surgically repaired knee, but that since he is slowly recovering from the injury, he needed a day off. ... Tony Graham of the Asbury Park Press wrote a story yesterday on Jhamar Youngblood, who transferred to Rider from Monmouth after leaving the team with three games to play last season. ... A scout from the Grizzlies was at the game watching Ryan Thompson.

....

Against less-than-quality opposition, the MAAC took care of business and went 4-0. Both Iona (a 68-61 winner at Long Island) and Loyola (73-70 over Coppin State) overcame second-half deficits to win. Saint Peter's cruised past NJIT, who I think has to beat Maryland Eastern Shore at home on Jan. 28 to avoid a second consecutive winless season.

I wonder if Tim O'Toole is glad after all that he wasn't offered the job.

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