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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 ( or email

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Watch out for those raccoons

I'll have more on this in Friday's paper, but since I've gotten a flurry of questions about it via everything from e-mail to Twitter messages, here's the scoop on Rider's fancy new practice facility at the Mercer County Airport.

After a flood in late August did some severe damage to the floor at Alumni Gym, Rider officials called around to look for short-term alternatives. The alternative they ended up finding was in an abandoned tennis facility at the airport, where you have to dodge deer on the way in and where a family of raccoons appears from time to time in one of the corners (though to be fair, it's far enough away from the court that the furry ones are unlikely to interfere with scrimmages).

I went to watch the Broncs work out yesterday and had an interesting time finding the place. I drove to the airport, which is easy enough to find, and saw a sign pointing me in one of two directions: forward toward the terminal or to the left toward the tennis facility.

I took the left, dodged a deer that ran across the road, and found my way to the small parking lot in the back.

I entered the door, walked past a yellowish green couch that someone likely put there in the Carter administration, then walked over to the court.

I was in the middle of watching workouts, complimenting players and coaches on the new digs, when assistant coach Todd Shellenberger chuckled and said "you should see the raccoons," which he later showed me. There's a family of four that appears from time to time in the corner, there are the deer outside, and there is, of course, the occasional plane flying over.

Luckily, though, the place isn't exactly JFK International, so the planes only come over once a day or so. And as Tommy Dempsey pointed out, they're smaller planes that don't make a ton of noise, so they're not as distracting as say, a 747.

Kevin Bannon, the former Rider and Rutgers coach who now runs the Mercer County parks commission and coaches the Notre Dame High boys team, helped set the Broncs up with the floor from Sovereign Bank Arena, along with a pair of hoops from the parks commission.

Initially, the Broncs thought they'd be back at the Zoo by the time formal practices start Oct. 15. But then they got word the floor had to be completely replaced rather than simply repaired, pushing the timetable back closer to Nov. 1.

If all goes according to plan, the new floor will be ready with about a week to spare before Rider's Nov. 7 exhibition game against West Chester. Tommy Dempsey told me today that he isn't worried about the possibility of the game being pushed moved or postponed.

Dempsey said he also isn't worried about any negative impact on recruiting, and I think he's probably right. If a recruit, for instance, had never been on campus and the airport facility was the first image he associated with the program, the Broncs might be in trouble.

But with the fall signing period approaching, they'd be in even BIGGER trouble if they were trying to close a deal with a kid they hadn't yet brought on campus.

It looks like this will be Rider's home for all of October, meaning the next two weeks of informal workouts and the first two weeks of formal practices. The Broncs were forced to postpone their annual "Midnight MAACness" festivities, which Dempsey told me will be replaced by some kind of rally closer to the start of the regular season.

That, though, should be the only real casualty of this flood and these circumstances.

I'll have something up tomorrow and in the paper with quotes. Until then, talk away about the Broncs' temporary home and anything else that's on your minds.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did the team look?

September 30, 2009 at 10:42 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you get hazard pay?

September 30, 2009 at 10:49 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously. Aren't there health and safety issues here? Allowing student athletes to use an long abandoned, rodent infested facility cannot be a prudent decision by the Rider administration. Did the school's health officials consulted before this decision>

October 1, 2009 at 11:34 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any truth to the rumor that rider will be changing their mascot to a raccoon? Rider raccoons has a nice alliterative ring to it. Much better than broncs.

October 8, 2009 at 7:27 AM 

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