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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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Comings and goings on Route 206

As I wrote earlier today on Twitter, Rich Fisher writes that one of the other programs on Route 206 in Lawrenceville -- Notre Dame High School -- filled its coaching vacancy today by hiring former Monroe High coach Bob Turco.

The Irish had a vacancy because Kevin Bannon, the coach who led Rider to its last NCAA tournament appearance but was later fired under a cloud of controversy at Rutgers, resigned after one 9-14 season to take a gig as a part-time color analyst for Rider men's games.

While Bannon is going one way, Todd Shellenberger is going the other way. Shellenberger, the No. 3 assistant at Rider for the past two seasons, is returning to Notre Dame as the director of development. There was some mutual interest in Shellenberger returning to the sidelines at ND, but both sides agreed the development job would be too time-consuming.

The Irish then launched a search that landed them Turco, while Tommy Dempsey promoted director of basketball operations Ben Luber to assistant coach and hired former UMBC point guard Jay Greene to fill the DOBO spot.

As for Bannon, he'll join Daryl Fein on broadcasts for Rider home games. Steve Rudenstein, who had been the full-time color guy -- and who took a full-time job in the Rider development office last year -- will stay on as the color guy for road games.

Bannon, who heads the Mercer County Parks commission and helped set Rider up with hoops and a floor at the Trenton-Mercer Airport last year, is an eye-opening choice as a color analyst.

I KNOW what non-Rider fans will think of the move, given his highly publicized departure at Rutgers. I'm interested to see, though, what Rider fans think of his return and whether they think it's a positive to have a link to that 1994 team associated with the program.


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July 30, 2010 at 6:36 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't this be positive? Sports teams frequently welcome back their heros. It sounds good to me.

July 30, 2010 at 8:11 AM 
Anonymous tmd39 said...

No offense, but why are you bringing up a so-called "controvsey" that happened when you were a high school student? No mention of quotes from Billet or Hodgson about how no one forced anyone to run naked and the ones who were running were laughing? No mention of how this came to light because Earl Johnson's father tried to blackmail KB into starting Earl instead of Todd Billet and KB refused? It's funny, coaches get DUI's (which could result in mulitple deaths) or commit all sorts of NCAA violations and they have no trouble getting another job. But KB is blackballed.

July 30, 2010 at 5:19 PM 
Blogger Ben Doody said...


The last time the guy was heard from in college basketball, he was fired amid one of the strangest coaching storylines in recent memory.

To suggest Bannon was innocent of any wrongdoing is completely fair.

To suggest the way he exited the college basketball landscape is irrelevant, though, is absurd.

As you can see, I didn't even make any judgments about the hire. But it'd be extremely negligent of me to mention Bannon and ignore the storyline for which he's most well-known outside of Lawrenceville.

(And yes, if you ask most college basketball fans to name one thing about him, his exit at Rutgers will come up far before his tenure at Rider, fairly or unfairly.)

Your response is interesting. It's entirely possible most Rider fans view Bannon the way you do -- as a cherished link to the past, more than a controversial figure of any kind.

That's precisely why I raised the question.

July 30, 2010 at 5:53 PM 
Anonymous tmd39 said...

I view KB as a guy who got screwed. By an AD who was looking to hire his own guy and used this "controversy" as a means to an end. By families who were looking to make a quick buck (or get more playing time for their kids through blackmail). And by a media who loved the headlines, but never really dug any deeper than that. Personally, I don't think the "controversy" was the reason he was fired; it just provided Mulchay with cover.

I have no problem with you bringing it up (how could you not) and I'm painting you with the broad-brush of "the media" in general, but how about some balance?

KB and Donnie built the Bronc Zoo from the rubble of the Carpenter era (or should I say error). When I got to Rider in '86, there was no excitment on campus for basketball. For a school without a football program, that's not a good thing. He revived a dying program and I think it's great for him to be back in the Rider family.

July 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM 
Blogger Ben Doody said...


Your recollection of that turnaround is precisely why they're bringing him back.

For all the relative success they've had over the past five years (in a much better league than they were in under Bannon), their run in the early 90s was, in a way, the high point in program history.

I think a lot of Rider fans share your view, and most non-Rider fans don't.

The reason it's an interesting discussion is this: If you're building an image, it's important what your own fans think, but it's ALSO important what the general public thinks.

At the end of the day, I don't think having him around as a color analyst is earth-shattering. It's not like they hired him to be the AD or brought him back as an assistant coach. And as I wrote, Rudenstein is still going to do away games.

But this is something on which they'll get a lot of positive feedback and a lot of negative feedback.

July 30, 2010 at 6:25 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bannon goes from rider to rutgers to cyo to an under 500 high school team

July 31, 2010 at 1:06 PM 
Anonymous MaacFan said...

Definetely a positive to have KB in the building. He turned a program that was in the cellar, into back to back NCAA appearances. Even if it's just having him on the sidelines as an announcer, it's something that should excite the older alumni/fans of the program.

August 1, 2010 at 8:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do they really need to have 2 ex-coaches sitting at the scorer's table looking over the head coach's shoulder?

August 2, 2010 at 3:56 PM 
Anonymous MaacFan said...

If that's what it takes to win a MAAC Championship.

August 2, 2010 at 11:04 PM 
Anonymous tmd39 said...

When the head coach has the track record that Tommy Boy has, I would say yes, Amon.

August 3, 2010 at 12:23 PM 
Anonymous MaacFan said...

Agreed with tmd39.

August 3, 2010 at 7:31 PM 
Anonymous shooter said...


you continue to amaze me. Harnum's record was nothing short of mediocre. bannon played in an awful league then was avg at rutgers and embarassed the program. But if you talked to either of them today, it's like they never lost a game. If RT had any heart or onions, the current staff would be on a helluva run.

August 4, 2010 at 1:11 PM 
Anonymous tmd39 said...

KB and Donnie built the program! Let me repeat that: KB and Donnie built the program! Show some respect to the men who made Rider basketball relevant again after the Carpenter era. You can tell me all you want about a weak conference, but I'll take KB's '94 team against any other Rider team, and KB wins the game. And Donnie guided Rider into the MAAC with a second-place finish and an NIT bid in the first year, won a regular season MAAC and went to a MAAC final. Then he sets up Tommy Boy with two or the top five players to ever play at Rider and he cannot get an NCAA or NIT berth. And stop blaming RT for last season; how about the coach take some personal responsiblity for the dysfunctional team he put on the floor last season. The reason that the current staff isn't on a helluva run is that the head coach is in over his head and is better suited to be an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator.

August 9, 2010 at 1:18 PM 

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