Blogs > The Full-Court Press

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, October 29, 2008

Thompson scores 18 in debut

Pretty impressive stuff from Jason Thompson, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday in his Sacramento Kings debut, a 98-96 loss to Minnesota.

Here's a snippet of the AP game story:
The Kings surprised many by taking Thompson out of little-known Rider with the 12th pick in the draft. He was the first college senior taken, ahead of bigger names like Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, Kansas guard Brandon Rush and LSU forward Anthony Randolph.

Thompson was impressive in his debut, muscling the small Minnesota front line and creating second chances for the Kings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coaches' comments

It was cold and rainy today in New York -- not the kind of weather most people associate with cheer and optimism.

But there's a new season upon us, every team is undefeated (at least until mid-November), and every coach in the MAAC had something good to say about his team's season outlook.

We were on the first floor of the ESPNZone, which can be a noisy place and which is located in an even noisier place -- Times Square -- so my there were times when people upstairs and/or outside were being obnoxiously loud and my recorder couldn't pick up everything the coaches were saying.

This, though, is as complete a transcript of the coaches' comments as I could put together, going in reverse order of the teams' standings in the preseason coaches' poll.

Marist coach Chuck Martin

On junior point guard David Devezin, the Red Foxes’ lone returning starter: David is really big for us. We want to simulate the same style of play we had at Memphis (where Martin was an assistant coach for the past two seasons), which is an up-and-down, up-tempo transition game, and I’m glad David is around. He’s been great. He’s been great on and off the court. He’s the first one on the court and the last to leave, so I really appreciate his leadership qualities and … obviously he’s going to be tremendous for us this year, so I’m excited to have him.

On how he can translate success at Memphis into success at Marist: That’s going to be tough. Last year’s Memphis team is completely different to the team we have at Marist. It was a unique group with Derek Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson. I think one of the biggest differences between Memphis and Marist is length and size. But the one thing that is similar is our quickness on the perimeter. David Devezin, R.J Long, those guys have looked really good in the first weeks of practice, so I’m excited about those guys.

On new players who will make an impact: We’ve got Dorvell Carter from Rice High School. I’m excited about him. Length, skilled, got some size to him. A 6-9 kid by the name of Alex Vouyoukas. Not a great athlete but really good hands, a good passer, knows how to play basketball. … I’ve got a young man (6-3 guard Daye Kaba) who’s transferring from Boston College, and we’re excited about him.


Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne

On sophomore shooting guard Wesley Jenkins: I have huge expectations for him. He had a great offseason. He knows that to be in all-league player he can’t just sit out on the perimeter and shoot 3s. … He’s doing a great job of putting the ball on the floor and trying to get into the paint, and he knows he needs to get to the foul line. So he’s really working hard on that facet of that game.

On what to expect from the Peacocks’ 11 freshmen and sophomores: Ew. Some turnovers. (Laughs) … We’ve been really pleased. Before you talk about having winning seasons you have to change the attitude. We have six sophomores, five freshmen, one senior and one junior. The attitude has been tremendous. The energy and the attitude that we’ve been demonstrating on a daily basis has really improved. It’s skyrocketed. So we’re really excited about the future.

Canisius coach Tom Parrotta

On what he’s expecting from sophomore forward Greg Logins and junior guard Frank Turner: Big things, obviously. Frank’s a junior now. He was the rookie of the year two years ago, and he’s stepping up in a leadership capacity. We’re very happy to see that. For Greg, he just keeps on getting better. His best days are ahead of him. He’s had a tremendous offseason and he’s worked tremendously hard.

On building momentum at the end of the season last year, when the Golden Griffins beat Iona in the opening round of the MAAC tournament, then nearly upset Rider: That’s what it’s all about. I knew it was going to be an uphill struggle early on, and it certainly was, but we wanted to be playing our best basketball as the year went on and we certainly cultivated that. I hope we kept it going. We took advantage of our European tour this summer, which helped us really get a jump on the season and into the preseason, and hopefully we’re going to keep that going. … We’re looking forward to an improved squad that has worked tremendously hard.

On what color shoes the Griffins will wear this year (they wore hideously ugly, bright yellow ones last year): We’re going back to the traditional blue. It was a “be bold, wear gold” campaign last year, and they were pretty gold.

Iona coach Kevin Willard

On weather the Gaels can improve as much as they from 2006-07 to last year, when they posted a 10-win improvement: That’s our goal. Our goal is obviously to win the MAAC, as everyone’s goal is. But we’re just going to try to continue to build. … We have two freshmen, a transfer and a redshirt sophomore, so we’re trying to build a really solid foundation and try to improve this year.

On forwards Gary Springer and Devon Clark: He gained 20 pounds of muscle this year and Devon Clark is athletic, he runs the floor very well. Both those guys are going to play major minutes inside.

On the Gaels’ offseason trip to Canada: The trip was great. We have so many young guys, and we got to see what we can do and what we can’t do with a young group. We have a great group of kids, a great building block. We’re looking forward to having a really good year with some great teams in the league.

Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen

On the Jaspers' game at Madison Square Garden against Iona: It’s a special game for us and for the conference. Any time that you can have a game in a building as special as that one, and any time you can have a guy taken in the first round with a lottery pick, that’s good for the conference.

Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos

On the Hounds: It’s a credit to the program to be picked fifth. I’m not sure if we have that much talent but we were picked 10th when I got here. I’m not sure we’re fifth, but it’s a real pride for the program to be picked fifth when you don’t have that many of your best players back, that’s a credit to the program, so I’m happy about that.

On the renovations to Reitz Arena: We just got new bleachers. We have six games on TV this year so it’s an amazing job. Teddy Barnes, who’s a Loyola alumnus, we got new bleachers, stuff like that. Aesthetically, you’ve got to show improvement to the kids, and in this ecomony, since we’re charging $48,000, we’ve got to look good in the gym.

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich

On junior guard Tyrone Lewis: I think he’s excited about the year. I’m not going to say he had a sophomore jinx last year, but he wasn’t terrifically pleased with the kind of year he had coming off his freshman year, and I think he’s determined to do better this year.

On Lewis’ role now that leading scorer Charron Fischer is gone: Well, I don’t know that he can score as much as Charron. We might score a little bit more by committee because we have a few guys who can score. Charron just found a country to play in where he can shoot every time he gets the ball.

On senior center Benson Egemonye: He wants to have a (good) senior year. He’s the only senior we have. We have six new guys on our roster, and I think he wants to have a big senior year.

On Big East transfers Bilal Benn and Rob Garrison: Bilal and Rob are both good players. I think they’re hungry to play. You always worry when you take a transfer. You wonder if he still has a twinkle in his eye, if he still loves to play, and those guys certainly do. They’re in the gym all the time. You can’t get them out of the gym.

Rider coach Tommy Dempsey

On being picked third in the preseason poll: I’m going to give Jason a call as soon as we get out of here, because last year with him we were picked fourth and this year without him we’re picked third. So I’m not sure how that came to be but he’ll need to hear that.

On players settling in to new roles now that Jason Thompson is in the NBA: It’s an evolution. It’s different. We’ve been throwing him the ball every chance we’ve had for the past three years. So we’ll have a little bit of a different look, but we do have four of our guys recognized as all-league players last year, and Jason was one of them obviously, but the other three return, but we have a good nucleus, we played in a lot of big games this year, we’ve had a lot of great crowds and played in a lot of tough environments because Jason’s presence really put is more on the national map than we’ve ever been, so I think we’ll really benefit from that experience.

On how the Broncs can benefit from having made it to the MAAC championship game last year: Well I don’t know if we can. I hope that we can but our goal right now is to be back in that game. I think it’s tough when you get that close and you’re 40 minutes away from the NCAA tournament and you get your butt kicked and I think that stuck with us throughout the spring and summer and throughout the preseason. Our goal is to get that chance again to be 40 minutes from an NCAA tournament game and play better this time.

On how Jason Thompson has affected recruiting: It’s been awesome, to be honest. I talk to a lot less voicemail right now in recruiting. We have more people picking up the phone and we’ve been involved in some different recruiting circles because of Jason’s presence and him going in the lottery. Kids nowadays they don’t care as much about tradition and things like that. It’s “what have you done for me lately?” And right now we’re going into some homes and talking to people about having a kid who was drafted in the lottery. So like other teams in the league we’re going to do everything we can to take advantage of that.

Fairfield coach Ed Cooley

On senior point guard Jonathan Han: I think Jon Han is one of the best point guards on the east coast if not in the country in how he handles the game. I think our challenge for Jon this year is to be more of a vocal leader as well as Anthony Johnson and Greg Nero.

On how the Stags can build on their 11-win performance last year in the MAAC: Quite frankly, I thought we had a disappointing end to last year. I thought we were playing pretty good basketball coming down the stretch and it’s our challenge to try to move past where we were last year.

Siena coach Fran McCaffery

On how the Saints can build off of last year’s success, which included a win over Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament: Obviously the exposure has been immeasurable for our program not only in terms of recruiting, but in every aspect of how to build something.

On whether or not it’s reasonable that the Saints have been picked in the top 40 in the country by some magazines and web sites: I think its reasonable but I think we recognize the challenge, first of all within our own league. Without question it’s the most competitive since I’ve been in it. If you look at the quality of the personnel and the quality of the coaching. I said last year that I thought 13 wins would win the league. I was right, and despite the incredible expectations for our team, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened again because of the fact that there’s no easy game. Sometimes you can look and say there’s one (win), there’s two, and that’s not the way it is in this league, not right now, so I’m excited about our program, but we recognize the challenge ahead of us.

Not many surprises in polls

Surprising no one, the Siena men and Marist women were unanimous choices as the teams to beat in the MAAC when the conference's preseason polls were released today at the ESPNZone in New York.

Last year was the first in MAAC history in which a men's team and a women's team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The scary thing for other MAAC teams is that both teams could be better this year than they were a year ago, and the preseason all-conference teams back that up.

Three Siena players -- Kenny Hasbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin -- were named first-team all-MAAC on the men's side, while two Red Foxes -- reigning player of the year Rachele Fitz and Julianne Viani -- were named first team All-MAAC on the women's side.

Hasbrouck, last year's MAAC tournament MVP, and Fitz were named preseason players of the year.

After Siena, the men's poll was as followed, with points in parentheses: Fairfield (85); Rider (74); Niagara (73); Loyola (54); Manhattan (49); Iona (48); Canisius (29); Saint Peter's (22) and Marist (16).

Fairfield (82 points) was picked second in the women's poll, followed by Canisius (75); Saint Peter's (63); Loyola (56); Iona (54); Siena (52); Manhattan (32); Niagara (18) and Rider (18).

Joining the trio of Saints on the men's all-MAAC team were Rider's Ryan Thompson and Fairfield's Jonathan Han. In addition to Fitz and Viani, the women's first team included Siena guard Shondaya Burrell, Saint Peter's guard Tania Kennedy (the reigning defensive player of the year), and Fairfield forward Baendu Lowenthal.

Here are the rest of the preseason teams:

Men's second-team all-MAAC: Anthony Johnson (Fairfield), Gary Springer (Iona), Brian Rudolph (Loyola), Antoine Pearson (Manhattan), Tyrone Lewis (Niagara) and Harris Mansell (Rider).

Men's third-team all-MAAC: Frank Turner (Canisius), Marquis Sullivan (Loyola), Devon Austin (Manhattan), David Devezin (Marist), Wesley Jenkins (Saint Peter's).

Women's second-team all-MAAC: Erica Allenspach (Marist), Amanda Cavo (Canisius), Thazina Cook (Iona), Brittane Russell (Canisius), and Candice Walker (Loyola).

Women's third-team all-MAAC: Stephanie Geehan (Fairfield), Tammy Meyers (Rider), Jennifer McNamee (Niagara), Charlene Riddick (Saint Peter's), and Heather Stec (Siena).

Check back for more later.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Housekeeping

Few things to catch up on as we inch closer to the start of the season:

* I talked at length last week with Wilson Arroyo, the director of basketball operations at Life Center Academy in Burlington, about Dera Nd-Ezuma, the 6-10 center from Nigeria who recently committed to Rider. Arroyo raved about Nd-Ezuma's athleticism and said his shooting range extends "almost to the 3-point line." Like a lot of players from Africa (think Hasheem Thabeet), Nd-Ezuma didn't play organized basketball until his late teen years. In Nd-Ezuma's case, his junior season at Life Center, when he played on the Warriors' JV team, was his first season of organized ball. Arroyo said Nd-Ezuma is a Division I shot blocker right now, but has a big upside offensively. I'm told the Rider coaches were worried that some high majors were going to jump into the recruiting battle and elated that they secured Nd-Ezuma before that happened.


* The college basketball coverage in The Trentonian has been trickling in during the past week or so, and will really pick up in November. Here's a rundown of the staff's game plan and what you'll be seeing in the print edition and at www.trentonian.com: Just like last year, I'll be covering the Rider men and Joe O'Gorman will handle the Princeton men and women, the Rutgers women and the TCNJ men and women. Joe and I will split coverage of the Rider women. This year we'll also have Ryan Feldman, a college hoops junky who runs www.thehoopsreport.com, covering the Rutgers men. Ryan eats, sleeps and breathes college hoops -- people in the news room got mad at him because he wanted to talk college hoops in August, when people were just starting to talk about college football -- and I think you'll really like what you see from him. And he'll also be at the Old Spice Classic doing some work for his Web site and keeping an eye on Siena for The Blog and The Trentonian.


* Speaking of the Old Spice Classic, a note to pass along from the MAAC: Booster tickets, which get you into all three sessions involving one team, are sold out, but tickets for the tournament are still available. You can buy a pass for the entire tournament (six sessions) for $90, or a buy tickets for individual sessions (two games apiece) for $15. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling (407) 839-3900 or at the ticket office at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The tournament includes Siena, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Wicita State and Tennessee.

* MAAC media day is Tuesday at the ESPNZone in New York, and The Blog will have extensive coverage.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Commitment No. 2 for Rider

Rider got a verbal commitment today from Dera Nd-Ezuma, a 6-10 center from Nigeria via the Life Center Academy in Burlington. 

Nd-Ezuma, who was in Lawrenceville last week for the Broncs' "Midnight MAACness" festivities, joins 6-3 point guard SirChristian Williams as members of the class of 2009 to commit to the Broncs. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A new radio home for Rider

Rider men’s and women’s basketball games will be broadcast on the university’s student radio station, the school announced Tuesday.

The university had been searching for a new radio home after WBUD switched from sports programing to religious programing, forcing the Broncs and the Thunder to search for other broadcast partners, a process still ongoing for the Thunder.

WBUD had carried Rider games for the previous six seasons. WRRC “The Bronc,” 107.7 FM will carry games this year, with Daryl Fein and Steve Rudenstein returning as the men’s play-by-play team and Jeff Nolan and Daryle Dobos again calling the women’s games.

The station reaches most of Mercer County and parts of Bucks County, and the games will still be streamed at www.gobroncs.com.

“By partnering with 107.7 The Bronc, not only will we reach a larger listening audience with our basketball game broadcasts than our previous station, but we’ll also be able to provide some of the Rider students who work at the radio station with a valuable learning experience,” associate director of athletics Karin Torchia said in a statement. “I think our fans will be pleased with the new station and the signal clarity and will look forward to listening to Rider basketball when they can’t be at the games in person.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recruits at Midnight MAACness

I will not be at Midnight MAACness tonight at Rider. It turns out when my girlfriend's dad, a good guy and occasional Blog reader, decided to get married, he forgot that Midnight Madness festivities across the country are tonight, and the UConn-Rutgers football game is tomorrow at noon. So I'll be at a rehearsal dinner tonight (the wedding is tomorrow) and not at the Broncs Zoo. Quite a few high school players being recruited by Rider, though, will be there. In addition to SirChristian Williams, a point guard from Cleveland who gave the Broncs a verbal commitment last month, the following will be in attendance: 

Seniors
Dara Ezuma- Life Center, NJ
Mike McFadden- Newark Science, NJ
Khalil Murphy- Apex Academy, NJ

Juniors
Franz Massenat- Trenton Catholic
Dondre Whitmore- Trenton Catholic
Markese Tucker- Trenton Catholic
Trenity Burdine- Reading High School, PA
Eric Kindler- Trinity High School, PA
Wayne Newsome- Piscataway, NJ
Jack Oniell- North Catholic, PA
Josh Daniell- St. Patrick's, NJ
Dequan Pelzer- Penn Wood, PA

Sophomores
Micheal Gilchrist- St. Patrick's, NJ
Desmond Hubert- New Egypt, NJ

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Midnight Madness

The Rutgers men’s basketball team and the Rider men’s and women’s teams will open practice Friday night with Midnight Madness festivities.

The Rutgers men’s event, which the school has dubbed “MidKnight Madness” will start at 11 p.m. at the College Avenue Gym in New Brunswick.

The event is open to the general public and admission is free.The Scarlet Knights went 11-20 last year, but have high hopes thanks to highest rated recruiting class in school history.

The class, ranked 19th in the country by Scout.com, features McDonald’s high school All-American Mike Rosario, a 6-foot-3 guard from Jersey City, and Gregory Echenique, a 6-9 forward from Venezuela via St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark.

Rider, coming off a 23-11 season and a MAAC regular season co-championship, will hold “Midnight MAACness” festivities beginning at 10:30 at Alumni Gym.The event is open to Rider students and faculty but closed to the general public.