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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rohrssen staying at Manhattan

When Steve Lavin puts together his coaching staff at St. John's, Barry Rohrssen won't be one of the candidates.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Rohrssen, contrary to what some had speculated, will stay at Manhattan for a fifth year.

The New York Post posted a story on Rohrssen on its Web site.

Rohrssen's job status was the subject of speculation over the last two months of the 2009-10 season, but the Jaspers finished strong, winning at Iona and beating Loyola in the MAAC tournament play-in round before losing to Siena in the quarterfinals.

Jeff Ruland trashes Iona on WFAN

This is a must-listen.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coaching dominoes

FRAN McCAFFERY: Headed to Iowa

KEVIN WILLARD: Headed to Seton Hall

BARRY ROHRSSEN: Could join Steve Lavin at Saint John's

A day that started with news that Fran McCaffery was headed to Iowa now has taken a couple more interesting turns.

Once Seton Hall learned McCaffery was unavailable, the Pirates quickly moved to hire Iona's Kevin Willard, who Adam Zagoria reports will make an astonishing $1 million per year -- more than double what the Hall paid Bobby Gonzalez.

If that wasn't enough, the Boston Globe is reporting Steve Lavin could be on his way to Saint John's -- with Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen as one of his assistants.

The Rohrssen part of the equation may be the most surprising, but it makes sense. Rohrssen is on a short leash at Manhattan, with significant improvement next year likely needed for him to keep his job. Getting out now -- and joining a good staff that will inherit an experienced team in Jamaica -- might be smart.

If Rohrssen does leave -- and that looks far from a certainty right now -- the MAAC could have three coaching vacancies -- the most it's had since 2006, when Iona, Manhattan, Fairfield, Saint Peter's and Canisius all had openings.

McCaffery to Iowa; Who should replace him at Siena?

Pete Iorizzo reports today that Fran McCaffery has accepted an offer to coach at Iowa. McCaffery was reportedly the leading candidate for the job at Seton Hall, and was also drawing interest from St. John's.

Instead, he'll head to Iowa City, where he'll try to rebuild a proud but dormant program. The Hawkeyes fired Todd Likliter after three straight losing seasons.

Pete reports that McCaffery will be introduced at a news conference tomorrow.

Siena has signed letters of intent from two highly regarded high school seniors forwards -- Melsahn Basabe and Trenity Burdine -- but both can be released from their letters.

With Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson back and the MAAC's best freshmen class coming in, I thought the Saints would be a top-tier team in 2010-11. This has the potential to change that, though it's possible McCaffery's successor could keep the recruiting class intact.

So here's the question, Siena fans: Who would you like to see as McCaffery's replacement?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trenton native Jeff Robinson to enter NBA draft

Seton Hall forward Jeff Robinson, a Trenton native, is planning to enter the NBA draft, his father told The Trentonian.

Jeff Robinbson Sr. said his son, a former standout at St. Patrick High School, is entering the draft with one season of eligibility remaining at Seton Hall. The Pirates are likely to undergo significant roster changes in the wake of coach Bobby Gonzalez's firing.

Robinson averaged 12.2 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Pirates, who lost to Texas Tech in the first round of the NIT. Prior to arriving at Seton Hall, Robinson played two seasons at Memphis. He transferred mid-way through the 2008-09 season after averaging 1.8 points in 9.4 minutes.

Seton Hall fired Gonzalez March 17 after four seaons and is conducting a search for his replacement. Gonzalez's tenure was marred by off-court distractions. Two former players -- Robert Mitchell and Kelly Whitney -- were charged with several crimes involving an armed robbery in Newark.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Live chat: Princeton-Saint Louis

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My outrageously early 2010-11 rankings

Fairfield's loss to Creighton last night in the CIT quarterfinals officially brought an end to the MAAC 2009-10 MAAC season, meaning it's time to look toward next year.

By the time September rolls around, the MAAC landscape could look quite a bit different. But for now, we'll run with the flawed assumption that things will stay as they appear now, and go through a quick rundown of what the league pecking order should look like.

With that, the blog's admittedly premature 2010-11 rankings.

1. Fairfield: Won 23 games -- and came within a 15-foot jumper of the MAAC title -- with a freshman as its most dominant player. Losing Anthony Johnson and Mike Evanovich will hurt, but those losses could be offset by the returns of Warren Edney and Yorel Hawkins.

2. Siena: Those arguing the Saints will finish fifth or sixth are either insincere or delusional. They'll lose the best three-player class in recent history, meaning they're no longer the favorites. But I'll take my chances with Ryan Rossiter, Clarence Jackson, and the league's best recruiting class and coaching staff. That is, of course, if Fran McCaffery returns.

3. Iona: Won 21 games with one of the MAAC's youngest lineups. The Gaels return five starters from a team that finished third, and everyone on the roster should improve. But Kevin Willard's teams are 0-for-the-MAAC-tournament over the last three years -- a stat that can't be ignored.

4. Saint Peter's: Like Iona, the Peacocks return virtually everyone from a team that got a lot better over the past year. But like the Gaels, the Peacocks have shown an inability to win big games. Until that changes, I don't think they're title contenders.

5. Rider: Replacing Ryan Thompson -- unquestionably one of the five best players in school history -- won't be easy. So how will the Broncs replicate their fifth-place finish? Easy: Their two heralded freshmen are ready to contribute right away and, more importantly, the bottom half of the league will be far weaker than it was last year.

6. Manhattan: The Jaspers were wise to bring back Barry Rohrssen for at least one more year. Manhattan showed resolve in the face of adversity down the stretch, and with weaker competition throughout the league, Rico Pickett is poised for a dominant year.

7. Canisius: If the Golden Griffs finish seventh again, there's almost no way Tom Parrotta will be back in 2011-12. With that in mind, Parrotta needs to hope the four starters he has back will somehow play better without Frank Turner -- a scenario that's possible albeit unlikely.

8. Niagara: I trust Joe Mihalich enough to think that the Eagles won't be horrible, but it's hard to imagine them being a major factor without Tyrone Lewis, Bilal Benn or Rob Garrison -- players that have carried them over the past three seasons.

9. Loyola: The Hounds badly underachieved this past year and are staring at an uncertain future without Brett Harvey.

10. Marist: Chuck Martin's second year was so big a disaster that, between the astoundingly bad performance and the academic issues, the Red Foxes would have been justified in firing him. That's exactly what will happen a year from now if the Foxes don't show significant improvement.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Live chat: Fairfield-Creighton

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"It's good!"

It may not be "George hit the shot!", but Bob Heussler's call on Mike Evanovich's game-tying 3 Tuesday night is still a good listen.

... Harvard's blowout loss to App State last night took away Fairfield's chance of hosting its second-round game, so the Stags will play at Creighton Monday night. The Bluejays, you may recall, lost earlier this year to Iona.

... Pete Iorizzo reports from Spokane that Clarence Jackson is making progress and the Saints are all smiles.

... Princeton is moving on in the CBI. The Tigers will play IUPUI -- a winner yesterday at Hofstra -- in the quarterfinals.

... Fred Hill has his eyes on a .500 record in the Big East and an NCAA tournament bid next year.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Busy day

Hard to beat this day for college basketball news:

* Within an hour this morning, Seton Hall had fired Bobby Gonzalez and Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti had issued a statement announcing that Fred Hill would be back next year in Piscataway. If the situation at Seton Hall wasn't already a colossal mess, this report surfaced about Robert Mitchell being arrested for, among other offenses, duct-taping eight people in an attempted burglary.

I'm still trying to figure out why Seton Hall hired Gonzo in the first place and why they're surprised that his tenure unfolded the way it did.

* Fairfield is getting as much publicity as you can get for a CIT win. The Stags' 27-point comeback last night at George Mason is the biggest in postseason history and the biggest in Fairfield history. It's the Stags' first postseason victory since the 1973 NIT, and the first postsesaon win for a MAAC team not named Siena since Marist beat Oklahoma State in the NIT and Niagara beat Florida A&M in the NCAA tournament play-in game on March 13, 2007.

The Stags made Sportscenter -- not exactly a common occurence -- and Ed Cooley appeared on Mike Francesa's show on WFAN.

* The news on the Rider front is partly expected and partly surprising. Jermaine Jackson had long looked like a likely transfer, and his exit was all but assured after the infamous Facebook incident last month. The news that Carl Johnson is leaving is hardly earth-shattering, but wasn't a sure thing either.

All things considered, though, Rider has a chance to replace low-impact players with recruits with potential. The Broncs need someone capable of playing some minutes at point guard and wouldn't turn down a good big man. Their main focus will be on high school players, but don't be surprised if they take a transfer -- something they did two years ago (Jhamar Youngblood) and last year (DeShawn Mitchell).

* Princeton hosts Duquesne tonight in the CBI. It's the Tigers first postseason game since 2004. Ryan Feldman will be there covering for The Trentonian. The Dukes will be without their second leading scorer, forward Bill Clark, who coach Ron Everhart suspended for "conduct deemed unacceptable to the team."

Jackson, Johnson leaving Rider

Two Rider players -- sophomore forward Jermaine Jackson and freshman point guard Carl Johnson -- have decided to leave the program, coach Tommy Dempsey said Wednesday. Dempsey said both players wanted to move to schools where they could get more playing time.

Jackson, highly regarded as a high school prospect in Reading, Pa., had a disappointing and at times troubling career at Rider. In 50 games, he averaged 1.8 points and 11.8 minutes, going from an occasional starter to a seldom-used reserve. In Rider's last six games, he played only once -- for two minutes in a blowout loss to Siena on Feb. 26.

After the game, Jackson criticized Rider's coaches on his Facebook page. A day later, backup center Robbie Myers was also critical of Dempsey, but Jackson and Myers dressed for the Broncs' MAAC tournament games against Saint Peter's and Siena.

Johnson, from Philadelphia via St. Thomas Moore Prep in Connecticut, signed with Rider after Matt Griffin opted to transfer to Boston University. He played in 22 games, averaging 1.3 points.

The departures leave Rider with two additional scholarships to fill. The Broncs have signed 6-foot-7 forward Danny Stewart to a letter of intent and secured a verbal commitment from 6-4 shooting guard Anthony Myles. DeShawn Mitchell, a 6-5 guard who sat out this season after transferring from UNLV, will also be eligible next year.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Live chat: Fairfield-George Mason

Programming notes

A couple things on the agenda:

*I'll be joining Tom Cleary, Ketih Connors and Chris Simmons again for a live chat during tonight's Fairfield-George Mason game. Unfortunately, none of us were able to make the trip to Virginia, but we'll have the webcast on and a chat both here and on The Mirror's sports blog.

*I'm at work putting together a 12-page NCAA tournament special section. If you're in greater Trenton, be sure to stop by and pick one up tomorrow.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Selection Sunday: Open post

Greetings from the Trentonian news room, where like living rooms and bars across the country, the TV is tuned into the Selection Show on CBS.

I'm juggling the blog with page duty, so the best way to make this work is going to be to update this post throughout the night with postseason information, especially if it pertains to MAAC teams.

UPDATE, 6:03: No. 1 seeds, as expected, are Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke. Seemed to be broad consensus on Syracuse over West Virginia in spite of the Orange having lost two straight. Seth Davis says the Orange as the No. 4 overall seed -- behind Duke -- is a mistake. Tough call, but hard to have too much sympathy for Cuse on this one.

UPDATE, 6:10: Lehigh -- which got blown out in November by Rider -- will get fed to Kansas as a 16 seed. ... Northern Iowa, which routed Siena, is a No. 9 seed in the same region.

UPDATE, 6:12: Thought Georgetown might have played its way on to the 2 line with run in the Big East tournament. These guys did, afterall, beat Syracuse and come within 5 seconds of taking West Virginia. Shows, though, that ALMOST winning games doesn't do you a whole lot of good.

UPDATE, 6:21: How about the Cuse-UVM rematch in the 1-16 game? ... A couple of bubbles burst when Florida and Minnesota got bids.

UPDATE, 6:26: So Temple wins the A-10 title and has to play Cornell in the first round? That's a very rough draw.

UPDATE, 6:35: Tough draw seed-wise for Siena. Saints get a 13, which is a spot lower than most thought they'd get. I thought they had an outside shot at an 11. The good news, though, is they get a banged-up Purdue team in a winnable first-round game.

UPDATE, 6:38: Seth Davis has been on the Siena bandwagon all year, ranking the Saints in his preseason top 20, then being the lone AP voter to rank them late in the year before the Niagara loss. So it's no surprise that he now has them going to the Sweet 16. ... Sure would be great for the MAAC if he's right.

UPDATE, 6:41: Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury was adamant earlier today that his team had played its way into the field by taking Kentucky to overtime. ... Rick, next time you want a tournament bid, don't lose by 14 to Rider in your opener. ... That was a great win for Rider, but the fact remains Lehigh is the only team in this field that lost to Rider, and the Mountain Hawks are a 16 seed.

UPDATE, 6:47: John Templeton of is tracking CIT and CBI bids. Seems like most teams accepting CIT bids aren't waiting to hear from the CBI. The CBI field probably won't be done till much later tonight, since they'll have to wait till after the NIT selection show to start building the field. ... When Rider was in it two years ago, the bracket wasn't completed until after 2 a.m.

UPDATE, 9:42: It's on to CBI/CIT watch for Fairfield, which wasn't included in the NIT field. There are a few intriguing NIT first-round matchups, including one between Jim Calhoun's former team (Northeastern) and his current team.

UPDATE, 10:50: Chris Elsberry reports that Fairfield will play George Mason in the opening round of the CIT. Not exactly what the Stags had been hoping for, but given the number of No. 1 seeds that lost in conference tournaments, not a big surprise either. And hey, when you haven't been to the postseason since 2003, you're happy to be playing in mid-March.

UPDATE, 12:16: Central New Jersey will have postseason basketball. Princeton has accepted a bid to the CBI and will lost Duquesne Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pandemonium on Pearl Street

Monday, March 8, 2010

Title-game thriller: Siena 72, Fairfield 65

This was a classic the likes of which the MAAC has rarely seen in its 30-year history.

Top-seeded Siena and second-seeded Fairfield went back and forth Monday night at the Times Union Center, exchanging blows and responding with improbable plays at improbable times.

Against a team that has dominated the MAAC over the past three seasons, Fairfield was nearly flawless in the first half and resilient over the last 10 minutes of regulation.

In the end, though, Siena was too much.

Edwin Ubiles scored 27 points, Player of the Year Alex Franklin had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Siena beat the underdog Stags 72-65 in just the third overtime title game in league history. The other two overtime title games came in 1982 and 1995.

Derek Needham scored 16 points and Anthony Johnson had 14 for the Stags, who have played themselves on to the NIT bubble.

The Stags (22-10) had the ball with a chance to win it in regulation, but after a series of Siena fouls, Colin Nickerson's baseline fadeaway rimmed out as time expired.

Franklin, named the tournament MVP, and Ubiles, proved too much to handle in the extra session, in which Siena (27-6) outscored the Stags 12-5.

Franklin, Ubiles, Ryan Rossiter, Ronald Moore, Needham and Johnson were named to the all-tournament team.

Both teams will find out their fates -- Siena its NCAA Tournament seeding and Fairfield its postseason destination -- on Sunday.

Live from Albany: Men's title game

Championship Monday

Forger Super Bowl Sunday. The biggest day of the sports year is today.

OK, maybe that's a bit much, but people around Albany and the MAAC are fired up for Siena-Fairfield.

To get the day started, a rundown of what people are writing about:

* Rider was good yesterday, but not good enough.

* Mike Ringgold turned in one of his best performances in a losing effort.

* Clarence Jackson was one of several Saints who woke up in the second half.

* It's next to impossible to beat Siena when Ronald Moore is hitting shots.

* Fairfield is in the title game for the first time in seven years.

* Niagara's offense disappeared when it mattered most.

* Ryan Rossiter is a monster in a good way.

* Folks at Manhattan think Gonzo is a monster in a bad way.

* Surprise, surprise. The Marist women are back in the Big Dance.

* Fairfield ran out of gas in the second half.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


A few tidbits on Monday night's title game between the Saints and the Stags:

* Siena is the third team in MAAC history to play in four straight title games. The others: Iona from 1982-85 and Manhattan from 1992-95.

* Fairfield is in the title game for the first time since 2002-03, when the Stags lost to Manhattan. That season also featured the Stags' last postseason appearance -- a loss to Boston College in the NIT.

* The Stags are 3-2 in MAAC title games, having won in 1986, 1987 and 1997. Their coach in the first two? Mitch Buonaguro, who's now Fran McCaffery's top assistant.

* The MAAC tournament attendance record is easily within reach. Sunday's semifinal session drew a crowd of 8,250, bringing the total for the tournament to 42,890. The record, set last year, is 50,806, meaning Monday's game needs to draw only 7,917 to set the record.

* So much for upsets. For the third straight year, the top two seeds will meet in the final.

Live from Albany: Men's semifinals

Live from Albany: Women's title game

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Live from Albany: Men's quarterfinals


Good job by the MAAC hosting an academic fair today at the arena. Went over there to check it out, and there's a lot of recruiting going on.

The fair got me thinking about MAACademics, so I checked out the U.S. News & World Report rankings to see where they put each MAAC school.

Nine of the 10 schools are listed in the Universities with Masters division, while Siena is ranked separately as a liberal arts college. The rankings are done by region, so the nine schools with masters programs are in the North region. MAAC schools are very well represented at the top with two schools in the top four and five in the top 21.

U.S. News ranks them as follows:

3. Loyola
4. Fairfield
15. Marist
17. Manhattan
21. Casnisius
30. Iona
30. Rider
54. Niagara
Third tier (no ranking): Saint Peter's
(Siena is ranked No. 121 in the liberal arts colleges rankings)

Live from Albany: Women's semifinals

Friday, March 5, 2010

LIve from Albany: Men's play-in round


Breaking down tomorrow's matchup in the 4-5 game, which tips at 2:30 here at the Times Union Center:

The Broncs, winners of six of their last nine in the MAAC, need a win to keep their postseason hopes alive. Ryan Thompson averaged 22.8 points over his last nine games and 16.9 for the year. He carried Rider past Saint Peter’s in the MAAC tournament last year and may have to do the same this year. … Novar Gadson (11.4 points, 7.4 rebounds) has reached double figures in nine of his last 10 games despite lingering ankle pain. … Mike Ringgold (10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds) had a quiet February but remains a threat. … Brandon Penn (4.2 points) has provided a spark from the perimeter since entering the starting lineup. … Jhamar Youngblood (7.1 points) will likely be the first guard off the bench, while freshman Dera Nd-Ezuma has been increasingly useful as a backup post player.

SCOUTING SAINT PETER’S: The Peacocks, seeking their first MAAC tournament win in coach John Dunne’s four-year tenure, have a balanced attack led by junior guards Wesley Jenkins (14.1 points) and Nick Leon (13.3), both third-team all-MAAC selections. In the Peacocks’ 77-66 win Jan. 15 at Rider, Jekins scored 28 points. … Ryan Bacon, an athletic 6-7 junior averaging 10.1 points and nine rebounds, had a combined 31 points and 19 rebounds in two regular-season games against Rider. … Jeron Belin, a 6-6 junior who comes off the bench, had 17 points and seven rebounds at Rider on Jan. 15. … Darius Conley, a redshirt freshman averaging 6.3 points and five rebounds, is also a presence in the low post, though he’s gone three straight games without scoring. … Freshman Yvon Raymond, a 6-3 guard averaging 3.7 points, can attack the rim but hasn’t attempted a single 3-pointer.

Live from Albany: Women's quarterfinals

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Video: Ed Cooley on Fairfield's awards

Open post: MAAC awards

Women's ROY: Kayla Stroman, Niagara
Men's ROY: Derek Needham, Fairfield
Women's sixth player: Ali Morris, Niagara
Men's sixth man: Mike Evanovich, Fairfield
Women's defensive POY: Steph Geehan, Fairfield
Men's defensive POY: Anthony Johnson, Fairfield
Women's COY: Kendra Faustin, Niagara
Men's COY: Kevin Willard, Iona
Women's POY: Rachele Fitz, Marist
Men's POY: Alex Franklin, Siena

Video: Rider women's postgame

Video: Siena women's postgame

SIena 45, Rider 25

ALBANY, N.Y – The Rider women have had a trying season – one plagued by injuries, distractions and offensive ineptitude.

Thursday, though, the Broncs bottomed out in their season finale.

Rider didn’t just lose to Siena in the MAAC tournament play-in round. The Broncs, playing without injured star Caitlin Bopp (concussion) turned the worst offensive performance in MAAC history.

In a 45-25 loss to the seven-seeded Saints, 10th-seeded Rider struggled to reach double digits by half-time. Rider scored three points in the first minute of the first half but was unthinkably bad the rest of the way, setting the league record for fewest points with two to spare.

“They pretty much held us in check offensively for 40 minutes,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said.

This game was ugly even by the low standards of the play-in round.

The teams shattered the tournament record for combined points (previously 95) and broke the overall record of 77 with seven points to spare. Rider also broke the 34-year record low of 28 points, which the Broncs set in a loss to Saint Peter’s in 1976.

“Obviously,” Milligan said, “we had trouble putting the ball in the basket today. The looks, credit to Siena’s defense, were rushed and off-balanced. … We didn’t feel good about our shots today, and that obviously cost us.”

Let the games begin: Women's play-in round

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Anthony Myles Rider-bound

Rider scored a major recruiting victory when Anthony Myles, a highly touted shooting guard from Dover, Del. gave coach Tommy Dempsey a verbal commitment.

Myles, a standout at Polytech High School, is rated the No. 171 senior in the country by Hoop Scoop -- the highest ranking ever for a Rider recruit. The other member of Rider's Class of 2010, Philadelphia forward Danny Stewart, is rated No. 381 on the same list.

Myles had scholarship offers from Temple and South Florida, among others. When he didn't make a commitment early, several mid-major schools jumped in, including Rider and Niagara. Boston College showed late interest but hadn't offered a scholarship.

After watching Rider's 86-70 win over Canisius on Sunday, Myles called Dempsey Monday night to commit.

For now, this solidifies Rider's 2010-11 roster, though a scholarship would open up if someone on the Broncs' current roster opted to leave the program.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Live chat: MAAC conference call