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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore involved in Iowa recruiting violation

We interrupt your football Sunday and trick-or-treet prep to bring up the absurd but true story of a recruiting violation Fran McCaffery's staff committed at Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reports that the Hawkeyes notified the NCAA of violations that took place when two recruits -- including guard Josh Oglesby, now an Iowa commit -- had impermissible contact with a group of people including Asthon Kutcher and Demi Moore at an Iowa-Iowa State football game.

This is hardly the type of violation that can take down a program. But it's not exactly the type of press McCaffery needs as he tries to rebuild a program that has sunk to the bottom of the Big Ten pecking order in recent years.

"The university is remorseful that these violations occurred," associate AD Fred Mims wrote in an Oct. 1 letter to the NCAA. "We believe they were the result of sloppy management by our basketball staff."

Siena 67, Adelphi 59

This report filed by the Troy Record's Andy Santillo:

ALBANY - Siena scored the game's final 11 points to hold off a stingy Adelphi team in downtown Albany on Saturday afternoon.

Clarence Jackson scored a team-high 15 points, including the final eight points of the game as Siena rallied from 59-55 with 4:08 remaining.

Senior forward Ryan Rossiter scored four straight points to tie the game at 59-59, and then Jackson took over.

"They (Adelphi) played well enough to win," said Rossiter, who finished with 11 point and eight rebounds.

Richard Byrd scored a game-high 22 points and David Akinyooye finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds for Adelphi.

Friday, October 29, 2010

MAAC lookalike contest: Anthony Bozzella and Rick Moranis

Courtesty of tweeter mo_donnell, the next entry in the MAAC lookalike contest is Iona women's coach Anthony Bozzella and actor Rick Moranis, shown here playing evil genius Dark Helmet in the smash-hit Spaceballs.

To nominate someone for MAAC Lookalike of the Year, leave a comment, get it to me on Twitter @bendoody (by far the most popular means of submission so far) or e-mail it to

The other nominees so far are as follows: Fairfield women's coach Joe Frager and actor John Malkovich; Fairfield men's coach Ed Cooley and R&B star Aaron Neville; Iona coach Tim Cluess and the principal from Ferris Bueller's Day off; Ryan Rossiter and McLovin; and Jimmy Patsos and the dad from the Wonder Years.

MAAC lookalike contest: Joe Frager and John Malkovich

With two weeks to go before the season starts, it's last call for MAAC lookalike entries.

I called for nominees earlier today on Twitter and almost immediately got two more good ones -- both involving women's coaches.

The first of the two, courtesy of Guy F, is Fairfield coach Joe Frager and legendary actor John Malkovich.

The other, Iona coach Anthony Bozella and Rick Moranis, will be up later on in order to give the Frager/Malkovich post some time atop the blog.

The other nominees so far are as follows: Fairfield coach Ed Cooley and R&B star Aaron Neville; Iona coach Tim Cluess and the principal from Ferris Bueller's Day off; Ryan Rossiter and McLovin; and Jimmy Patsos and the dad from the Wonder Years.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Duke No. 1 in preseason AP poll

In case any blog readers either just woke up, just emerged from living under a rock or simply haven't had time to look elsewhere for it, here's the preseason AP poll, which was released today:

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' preseason 2010-11 college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, final 2009-10 record, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and 2009-10 final ranking:

1. Duke (55)35-51,6133
2. Michigan St. (8)28-91,55813
3. Kansas St. (2)29-81,4147
4. Ohio St.29-81,3685
5. Pittsburgh25-91,31018
6. Villanova25-81,1989
7. Kansas33-31,1721
8. North Carolina20-171,034
9. Florida21-13997
10. Syracuse30-59204
11. Kentucky35-39172
12. Gonzaga27-788922
13. Illinois21-15773
14. Purdue29-677110
15. Missouri23-11700
16. Baylor28-862519
17. Butler33-560711
18. Washington26-10572
19. Memphis24-10551
20. Georgetown23-1136314
21. Virginia Tech25-9288
22. Temple29-626512
23. Tennessee28-925215
24. BYU30-619817
25. San Diego St.25-9158

Others receiving votes: Wisconsin 126, Texas 107, Georgia 67, West Virginia 65, Minnesota 55, Florida St. 28, Wichita St. 28, UNLV 21, Richmond 17, Murray St. 15, Vanderbilt 14, N.C. State 10, Arizona 8, Connecticut 8, Colorado 7, Mississippi St. 7, UCLA 5, Miami 4, Ohio 4, Utah St. 4, Xavier 4, Dayton 3, Old Dominion 2, Georgia Tech 1, New Mexico 1, Wofford 1.

Binghamton buys out Kevin Broadus' conract

This report filed by the Associated Press -- finally an end to an ugly saga at a northeastern mid-major that appeared to be on the rise:

Binghamton University has bought out the contract of former men's basketball coach Kevin Broadus, who guided the team to its first NCAA tournament berth and presided over its rapid demise.

In exchange for his resignation and withdrawal of all claims and potential future lawsuits, Broadus will receive a $1.2 million settlement. According to a release from the school, Binghamton University will pay $819,115 and the State University of New York will pay $380,884.

Broadus filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in March and one of his attorneys had asked for his reinstatement after the NCAA announced last week that an investigation found no major violations during Broadus's tenure.

Broadus was hired in 2007 and last year signed a contract extension through the 2013-2014 season on the heels of a season that featured the team's first-ever conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth.

The program was hit hard after star guard Emanuel Mayben was arrested just over a year ago on charges of selling crack cocaine. Five other players were dismissed and Broadus was suspended with pay for making illegal contact with recruits.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Today's stories

Some college basketball reading courtesy of some Trentonian correspondents.

Steve Miller was at Rutgers media day, where Mike Rice's team will face some major obstacles in year one.

The Princeton men weren't the only team on campus picked to win the Ivy League. The women's team was also picked as the clear favorite, earning 16 of 17 first-place votes. Ryan Howard has the story.

Ryan also has a notebook from the Ivy League teleconference.

VIDEO: Justin Robinson at MAAC media day

A little late, but here's the last of the MAAC media day videos.

Live coverage: Ivy League preseason teleconference

Yesterday's stories, today's schedule

In an effort to bring some of this back to the top of the blog, here are links to three newspaper stories I wrote yesterday:

Tommy Dempsey says Rider is hungry after underachieving last year.

The Rider women are ready to start over.

Ryan Rossiter is no longer a role player. (Troy Record)


And a couple other orders of business:

We'll have live coverage of the Ivy League's preseason teleconference in a chat at 11 a.m. right here. Princeton is expected to be picked first in the preseason poll. will also have coverage from Ryan Feldman and Ryan Howard.

I'll be on Hoops Talk Live tonight talking MAAC hoops with host Raphielle Johnson in the 6 p.m. hour. If you haven't checked out the station yet, be sure to do so. Our own Ryan Feldman founded it and launched it Monday, his lunch-hour show serving as the inaugural broadcast.

I also have one more video to post -- Justin Robinson at yesterday's media day. It'll be up shortly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

VIDEO: Ed Cooley at MAAC media day

VIDEO: Tommy Dempsey at MAAC media day

VIDEO: Derek Needham at MAAC media day

VIDEO: Ryan Rossiter, preseason MAAC Player of the Year

Lionel Gomis to Siena

Siena secured one of its primary recruiting targets today when Lionel Gomis, a 6-9 forward from Blair Academy, gave coach Mitch Buonaguro a verbal commitment.

Gomis, from Dakar, Senegal, was also considering Rider and Loyola-Chicago. He went on an official visit to Rider last weekend after visiting Loyola-Chicago the previous week. He's rated an 87 out of 100 -- and three stars out of five -- by

It's the second verbal commitment for the Saints, who also got one from 6-5 shooting guard Robert Poole of Haddonfield, NJ.

Rider, meanwhile, would like to add two big men with its final three available scholarships. Among others, the Broncs are interested in 6-10 Hun School center Grant Fiorentinos, who was on an official visit to Rider in mid-October but is also considering a list of schools that includes Southern Illinois and Robert Morris. i

Ryan Rossiter no longer just a role player

NEW YORK -- For the past three seasons, Ryan Rossiter has been described with words like solid, consistent and underrated.

Not this year.

During the Saints' run of three straight MAAC titles, Rossiter was a key contributor but never the focal point of opponents' scouting reports -- a description that more aptly fit the likes of Kenny Hasbrouck, Ronald Moore and Alex Franklin.

Now the 6-foot-10 senior from Staten Island is something entirely different: The preseason MAAC Player of the Year.

"It's different without our seniors," Rossiter said Tuesday of Moore, Franklin and Edwin Ubiles, all of whom have moved on after storied careers. "They were great players and tremendous people, but more people are focused on what we lost than what we have back. That's what I'm focused on. I know what we have in the locker room and I'm really looking forward to this year."

The Saints were picked second in the MAAC when the preseason coaches' poll was released Tuesday at the league's media day in Times Square -- the first time since 2006-07 that they haven't been picked to win the title.

Fairfield, which took the Saints to overtime in last year's title game and returns four starters, was picked first with six of the 10 first-place votes.

Siena, which got three first-place votes, won't be taken lightly by anyone thanks to the aforementioned returning cast.

Though Rossiter and fellow first-team all-MAAC selection Clarence Jackson are the focal points, the Saints will also need a host of other players -- including freshmen Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine -- to play the kind of supporting roles that Rossiter and Jackson played in years past.

"Obviously it's great to have myself and Clarence, because Clarence is a tremendous player," Rossiter said. "But two players aren't going to win you a game. You need a bench and you need other guys to go out there, and that's what we have."

Siena is expecting big things from Brookins, Burdine -- assuming he can overcome a nagging foot injury -- and players like O.D. Anosike and Kyle Griffin, whose stats were underwhelming last year because they were buried behind Franklin and Moore on the depth chart.

But first-year coach Mitch Buonaguro said there's no question who the headliner is.

"I'm really happy for Ryan," Buonaguro said. "It's a well-deserved honor, and he's worked hard for it."

Justin Robinson, Mike Ringgold, Novar Gadson on all-MAAC teams

NEW YORK -- No one on Rider's roster has been named to a postseason all-MAAC team, but three players were named to preseason teams Tuesday: seniors Justin Robinson and Mike Ringgold as 2nd-team all-MAAC selections and junior Novar Gadson as a third-team pick.

Siena's Ryan Rossiter was voted preseason Player of the Year, while Siena's Clarence Jackson, Fairfield's Derek Needham, Iona's Scott Machado and Saint Peters' Wesley Jenkins joined Rossiter on the first team. Jenkins, out until at least December with a knee injury, was healthy at the time the voting was held.

Dempsey said the all-league selections are proof that the Broncs still have plenty of talent left after Ryan Thompson's departure.

"I think the coaches still have an understanding that we have good players," he said. "I think if you have three all-league caliber players in your program, as long as you mix in some good young guys, which we have, it still has the makeup of a team that should be one of the better teams in the league. I find it hard to believe that you could have three all-league players and not put a good product on the court."

Tommy Dempsey: "Last year really humbled us"

NEW YORK -- Tommy Dempsey stepped up to the microphone Tuesday at MAAC media day and got right to the point.

The Rider coached looked out at a room full of coaching colleagues and media members and jokingly asked, "think I'm the only one who picked us first?"

Dempsey, in fact, did not pick Rider first -- a difference from the eye-opening vote he cast last year, when his Ryan-Thompson-led team hoped to challenge Siena for the MAAC crown.

With first-place votes split between Fairfield (which came out on top) and Siena (second), the Broncs were picked fifth in the league's annual preseason coaches' poll.

Last year Dempsey had cast a first-place vote for his own team, hoping to deliver a message to his players that they should fear no one. He was the only coach who voted for anyone other than Siena -- a vote that drew criticism at the time and that proved far off base when Rider finished tied for fifth in the league at 9-9.

A year later, Dempsey doesn't regret the first-place vote.

But he's happy to deliver a different message this year: that Rider needs to improve significantly if it wants to contend for its first MAAC title.

"We're trying to focus on winning every day in practice," Dempsey said. "I know it's a cliche, but I think it's important to us. Last year I'm not sure we got better throughout the season. This year, we're focusing on each day needing to get better. We need to be a better team in January than we are today and a better team in February than we are in Janury. That didn't happen as much last year and part of it was certainly my fault. Our approach wasn't where it needed to be."

Dempsey has repeatedly said that last year's team had a sense of entitlement -- a point he reiterated last year. The Broncs thought they were nearly unbeatable in November -- a feeling that only grew stronger when they upset No. 18 Mississippi State in the season opener.

Rider then stumbled badly in December and January, losing six of their first nine MAAC games. By mid-January, the Broncs were nowhere near the regular-season title race. The end result was a 17-16 finish and a loss to eventual champion Siena in the MAAC tournament semifinals -- an experience that Dempsey said is a major motivating factor.

"Last year really humbled us," he said. "We're hungry and practice has been great, so I certainly expect big things from us."

Live coverage from MAAC media day

Monday, October 25, 2010

Full-Court Press preseason all-MAAC teams

To get things started on Tuesday morning -- and add to the prognosticating after unveiling my preseason rankings -- here are my preseason all-MAAC teams, including an all-Rookie team, on which the coaches won't vote until March.

First team:

Ryan Rossiter, C, Siena -- Combination of size and work ethic is unmatched
Derek Needham, G, Fairfield -- By far the league's most explosive guard
Clarence Jackson, G, Siena -- If he improves consistency he can average 18 per game
Scott Machado, Iona G, -- Here's guessing he'll have more freedom to be a star
Jamal Barney, Loyola G, -- If he's focused, look out

Second team:

Ryan Bacon, F, Saint Peter's -- If only he could finish inside
Yorel Hawkins, F, Fairfield -- Tenacious rebounder is back to full health
OD Anosike, F, Siena -- Could be league's most improved player
Julius Coles, G, Canisius -- With Turner gone, it's his team
Greg Nero, F, Fairfield -- Only question is his health, but early reports are promising

Third team:

Mike Ringgold, F, Rider -- Underrated defender and rebounder
Brian Rudolph, G, Loyola -- Will he step up in Harvey's absence?
Nick Leon, G, Saint Peter's -- With Jenkins out, he needs to score in bunches
Alejo Rodriguez, F, Iona -- Could be a double-double machine
Justin Robinson, G, Rider -- Remarkably consistent outside shooter

All-rookie team:

Rakeem Brookins, G, Siena -- Dynamic PG who can score
Trenity Burdine, F, Siena -- Foot injury is only question
Anthony Myles, G, Rider -- Highest rated recruit in school history
Jamel Fields, G, Fairfield -- Expected to lessen load on Needham
Javon James, F, Iona -- Decomitted from Fordham after coaching change

Player of the Year: Rossiter
Rookie of the Year: Brookins

The Full-Court Press' preseason MAAC rankings

Before we get into my preseason MAAC rankings, a cautionary tale:

In last year's preseason rankings, I picked Rider second, Niagara third, Fairfield sixth and Iona eighth -- all at least three spots higher or lower than where the teams ended up finishing. And by no means were any of those predictions against the grain at the time.

As you'll see if you scroll through the comments, the biggest criticism I took was for picking Manhattan last -- a prediction that could have come to fruition had Marist not both completely imploded and lost Caseim Drummond (one of the reasons I picked the Foxes ninth) before he stepped on the court.

At this time last year, Derek Needham was one of many touted recruits who figured to make an immediate impact. But the most dominant MAAC newcomer since Lionel Simmons? A bona fide Player of the Year candidate who would take his team to within one 15-foot jumper of the NCAA tournament? Not even the biggest Fairfield supporter uttered the suggestion.

By the time this season comes to a close, it's quite possible we'll see another player or group of players who aren't mentioned in this post but go on to drastically alter their teams' seasons. And it's also possible that one or more of the teams ranked near the top become this year's version of Rider and Niagara -- teams that are good on paper but underachieve for one reason or another.

Yet what would October be without preseason rankings? They're fun, they give people to talk about -- which is why we're all eagerly anticipating the unveiling of the coaches' poll at media day tomorrow -- and sometimes, they're even fairly accurate.

Last year, for instance, as bad as my predictions were, my top three preseason teams were all in the MAAC tournament semifinals, while three of my projected play-in round teams were, in fact, in the play-in round.

Without further adieu, then, here's the official Full-Court Press preseason MAAC rankings:

1. Fairfield (23-10 last year, 13-5 in the MAAC, lost to Siena in MAAC tournament finals and to Creighton in the second round of the CIT)

The Stags are by no means the type or prohibitive favorites that the Siena teams of the last two years were.

For all their success last year, they were in close games with virtually every team in the league -- and had it not been for an eye-opening run in the MAAC tournament, they could have been picked as low as fourth by me and others.

Then there's the matter of losing Anthony Johnson and Mike Evanovich, a first-team all-leaguer and the MAAC Sixth Man of the Year, respectively.

But lost amid some of the chatter at the end of last year was the Fairfield made it as far as it did with almost an entire lineup worth of key players sidelined by injuries. The Stags will start the season with Yorel Hawkins fully healthy and Warren Edney and even Greg Nero back after missing all of last year.

Throw in what could be the league's best recruiting class, and Ed Cooley's group deserves to be in the top spot.

2. Siena (27-7, 17-1, won MAAC title, lost to Purdue in first round of the NCAA tournament)

I've never seen a mid-major team whose decline is so widely and gleefully anticipated by fans of other teams.

Judging by some chatter, the Saints will be lucky to hang with Canisius and Loyola, so depleted are they without The Big Three of Alex Franklin, Ronald Moore and Edwin Ubiles.

But here's the problem with that line of thinking: For all they've lost, the Saints still have two first-team all-league players in Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson. They also have at least two ready-for-primetime freshmen in Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine, and the feeling among coaches is that OD Anosike is a top five MAAC post player who had simply been buried on the depth chart behind Franklin.

And while Mitch Buonaguro may not be able to keep the program at the elite level that Fran McCaffery brought it to -- it's too early to tell if that's the case -- it's clear this year's team is eager to show people he was the right man for the job.

3. Iona (21-10, 12-6, lost to Niagara in MAAC tournament quarterfinals)

It's not that I don't think highly of the Gaels. I do, and I have every reason to believe Tim Cluess will be a good coach for as long as he's in the MAAC.

I'm also a big fan of Scott Machado and the pieces around him. The Gaels were the deepest team in the league last year and could be again this year, though I doubt Cluess will be interested in using the committee approach exactly how Kevin Willard employed it last year.

Iona has virtually everyone back, and added an excellent recruiting class.

So why are they third and not higher?

First, I need to see something from these kids before I anoint them the team to beat. For all their success last year, they were still one and done in the MAAC tournament -- just as they were for Willard's other two years in New Rochelle.

Second, I'm simply not convinced they're better than either Fairfield or Siena. But to be sure, if they're headed into Bridgeport in March as the No. 1 seed, it will be far from shocking.

4. Saint Peter's (16-14, 11-7, lost to Rider in MAAC tournament quarterfinals)

Many of the above points about Iona also apply to the Peacocks.

This is the most talented team SPC has had in quite some time -- including the Keydren Clark-led unit that went to the MAAC finals in 2005-06.

John Dunne has done wonders with the program in a very short timeframe, and he deserves to be in discussions for jobs that would quintuple his salary.

But until I see otherwise, I'll regard the Peacocks similarly to how I view Rider: A middle-of-the-pack team with some proven commodities, but one that will only be in the title discussion if a lot of things break the right way.

5. Rider (17-16, 9-9, lost to Siena in MAAC tournament semifinals)

For a number of reasons -- some justified, some not -- the Broncs are annual punching bags for fans of other MAAC teams.

That was the case even before last year, and it only got more severe after Tommy Dempsey picked his team to win the league, only to see Rider lose six of its first nine MAAC games and lose all relevance by mid-January.

To be abundantly clear, last year's team deserved the majority of the criticism it got -- including the snipes Dempsey took from his own fan base. (The snipes from his own players, on the other hand, damaged the players more than Dempsey).

But for all the abuse Dempsey has endured, his team has been in the MAAC semifinals in each of the past three years, and he's recruited well enough (see Anthony Myles and Danny Stewart) that Ryan Thompson's departure isn't the end of the world.

6. Loyola (13-17, 6-12, lost to Manhattan in MAAC tournament play-in round)

There's no question the Hounds have enough talent to finish in the top half -- and maybe even to contend for the title given the lack of a truly dominant team.

But similar things could have been said about last year's team, which finished eighth and was bounced by Manhattan in the play-in round.

Could this year be different? Absolutely. Jamal Barney is back and, barring the kind of personal issues that took him out of the lineup midway through last season, should be a first- or second-team all-league player.

Brett Harvey is gone, but Brian Rudolph is more than talented enough to run the offense. The question is, will Rudolph finally live up to the potential he displayed while being voted co-Rookie of the Year in 2007-08?

7. Canisius (15-17, 8-10, lost to Fairfield in MAAC tournament quarterfinals)

The only people happier than Tom Parrotta when the Golden Griffs gave their coach a two-year contract extension last spring were the other league coaches, who have counted on Canisius to finish in the play-in round during each of Parrotta's four seasons.

It's not that Canisius is totally without talent. The Griffs return four starters from a team that showed some improvement last year.

But I've yet to hear a coherent explanation for how Canisius will be better without Frank Turner than it was with him.

8. Niagara (18-15, 9-9, lost to Fairfield in MAAC tournament semifinals)

Yes, I know this is Niagara, that Joe Mihalich is still the coach and that seeing there's something extremely strange about seeing the Purple Eagles this low on the list.

But other than Mihalich on the bench and the name on the front of the uniforms, why should they be picked any higher?

No team other than Siena lost more talent than the Eagles, who will be without the services of Tyrone Lewis, Bilal Benn and Rob Garrison.

Yet while the Saints can turn to the likes of Rossiter and Jackson, Niagara has no such stars on which to rely.

9. Manhattan (11-20, 4-14, lost to Siena in MAAC tournament quarterfinals)

I had the Jaspers pegged as a middle-of-the-pack team last spring, but that was before Pickett left the program, leaving them without the MAAC's leading scorer.

When Steve Lavin offered Barry Rohrssen a job on the St. John's staff last year, it gave Rohrssen an opportunity to leave Riverdale on his own terms rather than risk getting fired if Manhattan has another bottom-tier finish.

I was extremely impressed last year with how much Rohrssen got out of his team down the stretch. The Jaspers were out of contention and rumors began swirling that Rohrssen's job was on the line. Yet Manhattan played hard (and well) in February and March, winning a rivalry game against Iona and eventually winning a MAAC tournament game.

Rohrssen brought in one of the best recruiting classes of his tenure, but may need to overachieve to keep his job.

10. Marist (1-29, 1-17, lost to Canisius in MAAC tournament play-in round)

I stuck my neck out last year by picking the Red Foxes ninth instead of 10th.

How'd they reward me? By turning in one of the most putrid seasons the MAAC has ever seen.

At the very least, Chuck Martin needs to eliminate all off-the-court problems and show some major improvement on the floor in order to keep his job.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coverage schedule this week

Some programming reminders about the coming week:

* Later today, I'll post my preseason MAAC rankigns, which won't be a whole lot different than those I put together last March.

* Tuesday, we'll have live coverage of MAAC media day from Times Square. Stop by for the announcements of the all-league teams and coaches' poll and stay for reactions from players and coaches, and to throw in your two cents on the league and your team. The more the merrier. The chat tips off at 11 a.m., live from the BB King Blues Bar & Grill.

* Wednesday, our Ivy League push goes into gear. We'll have a live chat here at 11 a.m. for the preseason teleconference, during which the preseason poll and all-league teams will be unveiled. We'll then have a story from Ryan Feldman on Princeeton and an Ivy notebook from correspondent Ryan Howard (no, not that Ryan Howard).

* Also Wednesday, we'll have reportrs from Steve Miller at Rutgers media day -- the first of the Mike Rice era.

That's it for live coverage, but the blog should be busy at the end of the week as well. Stop by, tell a friend, and if you're not already, follow along on Twitter.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rider's health and Lionel Gomis' plans

A couple notes from Rider, which scrimmaged this morning at Alumni Gym:

* The Broncs are slightly banged up, but not in a way that should impact then when the regular season begins. Novar Gadson is nursing an ankle sprain he sustained at the beginning of the month, but he practiced today.

Dera Nd-Ezuma will be out for about two more weeks after getting injections in his knees to combat tendinitis. Nd-Ezuma won't miss any time during the season, but his health is somewhat of a concern.

Rider is counting on the sophomore to help significantly more with interior defense and rebounding. The Broncs' staff was impressed with the way he progressed late last season and the way he's worked out over the offseason, but he remains a work in progress. It'll be interesting to see how quickly he gets into game shape after missing part of the preseason.

Nd-Ezuma said he's coming along, doing some running, but still isn't up to scrimmaging.

* Lionel Gomis, a 6-9 big man from Senegal via Blair Academy, is at Rider this weekend on an official visit. Gomis has narrowed his choices to Siena, Loyola-Chicago and Rider and said he has no clear favorite among the three.

Gomis visited Siena earlier this month and Loyola-Chicago last weekend. He said he's unlikely to visit any other schools, and that he'll make his decision sooner rather than later, perhaps as early as next week. He's almost certain to sign during the fall period rather than waiting until the spring.

Rider has two commitments for the 2011-12 season -- Eddie Mitchell and Mark Medley -- and three scholarships to fill, with two likely going to post players.

This and that on Saturday morning

Greetings from the Northeast Corridor.

Some good news and bad news as we head into the weekend: The good news is my feature on Rider's freshmen is in Saturday's Trentonian. The bad news is our idiot web guy -- me -- forgot to post it amid the hubbub of a high school football Friday. Since it's stuck on a page in Trenton, I'll have to post it when I get back to the office later in the morning.

That said, my plan for the day includes stopping in Lawrenceville to watch the Broncs' intrasquad scrimmage. Tommy Dempsey said the team will split up and likely play three 10-minute periods or something along those lines.

Rider's practice takes place at the same time as the Rutgers-Pitt football game, in which the Scarlet Knights are out to honor Eric LeGrand in their first game since the amiable defensive tackle was paralyzed last weekend.

(If you haven't already, click here to make a donation to RU's Eric LeGrand Believe Fund)

That will make for some juggling, but that's what netbooks are for: I should be able to follow all the football while watching the scrimmages, then get back to the office in time to wrap things up.

The live chats are here for high school football and here for RU-Pitt and Princeton-Harvard.


With a little bit of spare time on my commute, I figured now was as good a time as any to start reading up on UMass.

The Minutemen, Rider's opening-night opponent Nov. 12 at the Mullins Center, was picked 11th in the preseason A-10 poll -- a slot coach Derrick Kellog doesn't think is unjust.

UMass, Vautour writes in the Daily Hampshire Gazette (my home county's paper), may not necessarily be a better team, but the Minutemen are in better shape to begin practice.


The Trentonian got some love in this blog post by renowned media critic Jay Rosen of NYU.


An important programming note that I've thrown out on Twitter but not on the blog: We'll be hosting the first live chat of the season Tuesday during MAAC media day in Times Square. We'll carry the announcements of the preseason poll and preseason all-conference teams live, along with reaction from coaches and players.

I'm also wondering if anyone out there would attend a live chat next Wednesday during the Ivy League conference call -- the league's version of media day. That's when the preseason Ivy poll and all-league teams will be announced. Princeton figures to be tabbed as the league favorite, with Harvard and Cornell also in the mix.

If you'd take part in the Ivy chat, leave a comment or send me a tweet @bendoody.

That's all for now, but I'll be back later in the morning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

UPDATE: Ryan Thompson likely to play for Utah Flash of NBDL

Here's the latest version of the story on

Ryan Thompson won't start the year with the Utah Jazz, but the former Rider standout is leaning torward staying with the organization.

Hours after being waived by the NBA team along with three other players, Thompson said by phone that he will likely begin the year with the team's developmental league affilate, the Utah Flash.

"I'm used to it out here," he said. "I haven't made a final decision, but I talked to my agent. I'm going to stay out here and work out, and we'll go from there."

Thompson, who signed a non-guaranteed contract with the team in August, was one of four players waived before Thursday's practice.

The team also cut Sundiata Gaints, Othyus Jeffers and Demetrius Nichols, reducing the number of players in camp from 17 to 13. Second-round pick Jeremy Evans is the lone player remaining with a non-guaranteed contract.

Thompson, a two-time first-team all-MAAC selection who finished fourth on the Broncs' career scoring list, said earlier in the day that he was weighing his options and could end up with another NBA team.

But he decided his best option may be with the Utah organization, which could call him up in the event of an injury or another roster move.

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan told the Deseret News earlier Thursday that he had been impressed with Thompson and the other players the team waived.

"If you'd been here and seen those guys practice every day and the work that they put in and then you watch them play when they got in the games, they didn't fade away," Sloan said. "They kept playing hard. They kept working hard. Hopefully they get a chance to play again."

Thompson, undrafted despite strong performances in pre-draft camps, played for the Boston Celtics in the Orlando summer league and the Sacramento Kings -- older broother Jason's team -- in the Las Vegas league.

He declined a camp invite from the Kings, opting instead to sign with Utah. Despite making one start and impressing Sloan and some of Utah's veterans, he had a quiet training camp, finishing last on the team in scoring and rebounding.

The developmental league, though, could give him a second chance to make an impression.

Temple picked to win Atlantic 10; La Salle ninth, UMass 11th

In addition to putting together this cool video, the Atlantic 10 released its preseason poll today. Below are a highlight video and the poll. ... Rider plays two A-10 teams -- UMass and La Salle -- this season.

1. Temple (19) 350
2. Xavier (3) 325
3. Richmond (3) 311
4. Dayton 310
5. Rhode Island 233
6. Saint Louis 223
7. Charlotte 218
8. Duquesne 172
9. La Salle 133
10. George Washington 130
11. UMass 126
12. Saint Joseph's 91
13. Saint Bonaventure 80
14. Fordham 28

Duke No. 1 in preseason coaches' poll

The results of the preseason poll cast by Ed Cooley and his fellow coaches:




1. Duke (29)




2. Michigan State (2)




3. Kansas State




4. Pittsburgh




5. Ohio State




6. Villanova




7. Kansas




8. Purdue




9. North Carolina



10. Kentucky




11. Florida



12. Gonzaga




13. Syracuse




14. Baylor




15. Missouri



16. Illinois



17. Washington




18. Butler




19. Memphis



20. Tennessee




21. Georgetown



22. Temple



23. Virginia Tech



24. Wisconsin




25. Texas



Others receiving votes: San Diego State 73, BYU 55, West Virginia 49, Minnesota 41, Florida State 31, UNLV 19, Wichita State 13, UCLA 12, Vanderbilt 11, N.C. State 10, Georgia 9, Richmond 9, Xavier 8, Mississippi State 7, Utah State 6, California 5, Texas A&M 5, Murray State 4, New Mexico 4, Louisville 3, Arizona 2, Dayton 2, Marquette 2, Maryland 2, Saint Mary's 2, Northwestern 1.

The USA TODAY/ESPN Board of Coaches for the 2010-11 season: Mike Adras, Northern Arizona; Tommy Amaker, Harvard; Tevester Anderson, Jackson State; Ronnie Arrow, South Alabama; Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's; Eddie Biedenbach, North Carolina-Asheville; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; Rick Byrd, Belmont; Patrick Chambers, Boston University; Charlie Coles, Miami (Ohio); Ed Cooley, Fairfield; Scott Drew, Baylor; Steve Fisher, San Diego State; Don Friday, St. Francis (Pa.); Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa; Rob Jeter, Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Billy Kennedy, Murray State; Billy Lange, Navy; Mike McConathy, Northwestern State; Bob McKillop, Davidson; Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's; Ronald "Fang" Mitchell, Coppin State; Matt Painter, Purdue; John Pelphrey, Arkansas; Herb Sendek, Arizona State; Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth; Scott Sutton, Oral Roberts; Don Verlin, Idaho; Bob Williams, UC-Santa Barbara; Gary Williams, Maryland; Doug Wojcik, Tulsa.

Ryan Thompson cut by Jazz

Just got off the phone with Ryan Thompson, who was let go today by the Jazz.

Thompson was one of four players cut by Utah, which also delivered the bad news to Sundiata Gaines, Othyus Jeffers and Demetrius Nichols. The Jazz have 13 players left in camp. Second-round pick Jeremy Evans is the lone player left with an unguaranteed contract.

Thompson told me he's not yet what his next step will be. It's not out of the question he could sign with a different NBA team or land in the NBA Developmental League, which would make for a potentially easy transition to an NBA roster once the season begins.

If nothing else works out in the NBA, Thompson would have no shortage of options in Europe.

Big East media day roundup

Hard to beat Big East media day when it comes to days for wall-to-wall coverage.

Here's a sampling from the Garden, starting with Ryan Feldman's report in The Trentonian:

Mike Rice and his players can't spend much time thinking about Rutgers' lackluster past.

Jim Calhoun was deeply hurt when Michigan State fans called him a "cheater."

Somehow or another, Calhoun says he'll always make himself the underdog.

Chris Wright says teammate Austin Freeman is a young Barack Obama.

There's no question Pitt is the team to beat.

Steve Lavin was the most popular guy at the Garden.

Lavin's Red Storm got a first-place vote from Rick Pitino.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rutgers picked 15th in Big East; Pitt first

Here's a look at the preseason Big East coaches' poll, which was released today at Big East media day. Ryan

Ryan Feldman is at the Garden and will have a report on the Scarlet Knights later on:

1. Pitt (12) 222
2. Villanova (1) 208
3. Syracyse (2) 187
4. Georgetown 173
5. West Virginia 164
6. St. John's (1) 145
7. Notre Dame 123
8. Louisville 121
8. Marquette 121
10. UConn 113
11. Seton Hall 104
12. Cincinnati 91
13. USF 54
14. Providence 36
15. Rutgers 32
16 DePaul 26

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

VIDEO: Tommy Pereira on adjusting to Rider

The third of three chats with Rider freshmen:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

VIDEO: Danny Stewart on his role at Rider

Here's the second of three chats with Rider freshman. Tommy Pereira is up tomorrow.

Grant Fiorentinos, Marquis Marshall, other Rider musings

A short while ago, I posted the following on Twitter: "Some video and #Rider recruiting updates coming up shortly on the Full-Court Press."

OK, that wasn't exactly 20 minutes ago. It was at 12:51 p.m., meaning almost 13 hours has passed, with my video chat with Anthony Myles serving as the only post.

So apologies for lagging just a bit. It wasn't that the day was completely unproductive. We had competing live football chats at; my colleague Matthew Osborne and I got the print edition out with minimal assistance past 8 p.m.

The blog, though, went dark in spite of my plans to the contrary.

So here's the deal:

I caught up with the Broncs' three freshman -- Myles, Danny Stewart and Tommy Pereira -- after practice. The Myles video is up now, and I'll add one with Stewart Sunday and one with Pereira on Monday.

Now for recruiting, which always picks up in October, when high school players go on unofficial and official visits, many of them coinciding with Midnight Madness festivities:

As I wrote yesterday, Rider had a handful of recruits on hand for Midnight MAACness, including the brothers of two Broncs: Danny Stewart's brother Derrick and Jeff Jones' brother Deon. The younger Jones, one of Rider's top targets, is a senior. The younger Stewart is only a junior (at Neumann-Gorreti High in Philadelphia) and is only beginning his recruiting process.

The Brocns also hosted 6-10 Hun School center Grant Fiorentinos, who was at Saturday's practice in addition to Friday's festivities.

Fiorentinos, a member of the Engligh 18-U national team, was on an official visit. He said he likes a lot about the Broncs, enough so that Rider is at the top of his list -- for now. He's also considering Robert Morris, Florida Atlantic and San Francisco, and will make one or two more official visits before making a decision.

Rider will lose Mike Ringgold to graduation at the end of the year and, I'm told, wants to use at least one of its three remaining scholarships (but preferably two) on a post player. The Broncs have verbal commitments from guard Eddie Mitchell and forward Mark Medley for the 2011-12 season and guard Shawn Valentine, who reclassified as a junior and is attending the Phelps School in Malvern, Pa., for 2012-13.

Fiorentinos would have the potential to help Rider become a better post defense and rebounding team -- something the Broncs hope Danny Stewart and the maturation of Dera Nd-Ezuma will do this year.

The Broncs are also in the running for 6-9 Blair Academy forward Lionel Gomis, who's narrowed his choices to Siena, Loyola-Chicago and Rider. Gomis, from Senegal, is on an official visit to Loyola-Chicago this weekend and will visit Rider next. He's already visited Siena.

The list of players also includes a player with strong basketball bloodlines: 6-2 Reading Central Catholic junior guard Marquis Marshall.

You may remember his dad, Donyell, who happened to be on the opposing side the last time Rider played in an NCAA tournament game.

The elder Marshall is back in college basketball this fall as an assistant coach under former UConn assistant Karl Hobbs at George Washington.

As for Marquis, he has a guard's skillset and for, now guard's size. But given his genes -- his mother is close to 6-feet, while Donyell is 6-9 -- suggests a growth spurt could be upcoming.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

VIDEO: Anthony Myles on fitting in at Rider

Midnight Madness roundup

Before the last Northeast Corridor train of the night arrives at Penn Station, here's a short and sweet wrapup of some of the day's action.

Later today, the real fun (and work) will start, when teams hit the floor for their first real practices. Rider is among the teams with an especially short turnaround. The Broncs will be on the floor at 9 a.m. for a workout that figures to be a whole lot more physically challenging than Midnight MAACness.

Here's the roundup, starting in Lawrenceville:

Mike Ringgol and Justin Robinson are eager to turn the page after a 17-16 season.

Up Route 1 in Piscataway, the Mike Rice era is under way.

Andy Santillo writes that Clarence Jackson and Co. couldn't wait to get things started in their first season under Mitch Buonaguro.

There's not a better area to be in than Raleigh-Durham, where there's basketball everywhere you look.

Business as usual at UConn, except for one notable absentee at the Huskies' First Night festivities.

Butler players are looking for something pretty special -- an improvement from the way things went last year.

Seth Davis has 10 burning questions as practice begins.

Mike Rice before Rutgers' first practice

Some Mike Rice quotes courtesy of Adrian Fedkiw, who was in Piscataway for the first Rutgers practice of the Rice era.

On his offense... “Basically this team has been so offensively challenged that I had to do some drillwork.”

On the seniors... “They have to have urgency.”

On Dane Miller... “He’s one of the most talented individuals that I have, he’s responded great.”

On his talent level... “They’re all buying in, teamwork over talent.”

On basketball instinct... “I don’t want my players to think. We want to make them more basketball instinctive so they won’t have to think, their reactions will be in their DNA. Everyday we’ll improve.”

On the Big East... “We’re in the most physically demanding league in the country.”

On expectations... “When you have a formula, a plan, you’re going to be successful. Students, alumni and season ticket holders will see.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

VIDEO: Tommy Dempsey before Midnight MAACness

VIDEO: Justin Robinson before Midnight MAACness

VIDEO: Mike Ringgold before Midnight MAACness

Recruits at Rider Midnight MAACness

In addition to getting fans fired up about the upcoming season, midnight madness festivities across the country serve as an extremely efficient recruiting tool.

Rider's Midnight MAACness certainly fits that mold -- so much so that Justin Robinson bluntly told me today: "It's pretty much why I came here."

With that in mind, below is a list of recruits who are at Alumni Gym for tonight's festivities. The Broncs have verbal commitments from two of the players -- point guard Eddie Mitchell and forward Mark Medley -- for the 2011-12 season, and from guard Shawn Valentine for the 2012-13 season.

In attendance tonight are: Malik Garner of Chestnut Hill Academy; Marquis Marshall of Reading Central Catholic; Medley; Mitchell; Deon Jones of the Sanford School (younger brother of Rider guard Jeff Jones); Derrick Stewart of Neuman-Goretti High in Philadelphia (Danny Stewart's brother); Valentine; Andre Horne of Life Center Academy in Burlington Twp. Aaron Morgan of Council Rock North High in Bucks County; Brendan Kilpatrick of Malvern Prep; Ryan Arcidacono of Neshaminy High; Dominic Hoffman of Gil St. Bernard; Alex Mitola of Gil St. Bernard; and Grant Fiorentinos of the Hun School.

Fiorentinos is on an official visit, while the other non-committed players are on unofficial visits.

Happy New Year

It's finally here, hoops junkies.

College basketball practice begins today, and the blog will have coverage from both Rider and Rutgers.

Unfortunately, my schedule won't allow me to attend Rider's Midnight MAACness festivities in their entirety. But I'll be at Rider talking to players and coaches before high school football gets rolling, and Adrian Fedkiw will have coverage of the first practice of the Mike Rice era in Piscataway.

Stay tuned later on for notes, quotes and video.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday links

The MLB playoffs and other assorted projects derailed my plans to do a lot of blogging this past week. I'm optimistic though, that we'll get back on track next week. And in the meantime, here are some links to take you into the weekend.
. . .

*As I wrote earlier on Twitter, there are many good pieces today on the miraculous story of Seton Hall forward Herb Pope. My first recommendation is this one, by Brendan Prunty of the Star-Ledger.

* Rough night Thursday for the Thompson brothers. Ryan didn't play in the Jazz's preseason opener, and Jason might have wished he hadn't. The third-year power forward scored just three points on 1-for-7 shooting as the Kings fell to the Clippers.

* UConn is denying the NCAA's allegations that Jim Calhoun failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance. But the Huskies issued self-imposed sanctions that will reduce scholarships from 13 to 12 and cut down on recruiting time.

* Speaking of the Huskies, their football team is in action tonight in Piscataway. Go here for live coverage.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cheerleaders banned from saying 'South in your mouth'

Every day, there's at least one sports story on the wire that leaves you shaking your head.

It turns out that today, that story involves the South Alabama cheerleaders, who are now banned from saying 'South in your mouth' after players sink free throws.

I'm not sure which is weirder: That 'South in your mouth' was a popular term in the first place, or that the athletic department went out of its way to ban it.

Either way, here's the story filed by the AP:

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The University of South Alabama doesn't want its cheerleaders using a popular basketball cheer anymore.

In the past, cheerleaders and students have shouted "USA, South in your mouth!" when a player sinks a free throw. The phrase is similar to one used as a slogan by Southern-themed food companies and restaurants all over the country.

But athletic Director Joel Erdmann has asked the cheerleading coach to quit using the cheer, which he says is open to "ambiguity." Erdmann says he wants to avoid any misinterpretation of the cheer.

Student body president Kim Proctor says Erdmann's opposition probably guarantees that the cheer will be around forever. Leaders will likely find out at the first men's game on Nov. 12.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rider women to play at Marist in MAAC opener

Here's what I think will be the last news item of the night:

The MAAC women's schedule is out -- and Rider figures to be about a four-touchdown underdog in its opener.

The Broncs, coming off a season marred by injuries and underachievement, will begin conference play Jan. 2 at defending champion Marist.

The rest of the Broncs' schedule:

Jan 4: Loyola
Jan. 8: at Siena
Jan. 10: Canisius
Jan. 13: Manhattan
Jan. 15: Saint Peter's
Jan. 21: at Iona
Jan. 24: at Manhattan
Jan. 28: Marist
Jan. 30: at Fairfield
Feb. 4: at Loyola
Feb. 6: Iona
Feb. 12: Fairfield
Feb. 14: Siena
Feb. 18: at Niagara
Feb. 20: at Canisius
Feb. 24: at Saint Peter's
Feb. 27: Niagara

The Niagara game will tip off at 11:30 a.m. on Senior Day. That's the only game for which a time has been set.

The entire league schedule is available here.

Friday night links

A few things to touch on before I turn my attention to high school football:

Schools, as I noted in the previous post, are at various stages of the 2011 recruiting process. Though it's hard to beat where Rutgers stands -- a top 10 class with only one scholarship left to give -- there's a lot of recruiting left to be done.

On that note, Fran McCaffery got going yesterday, when he got his first commitment of the class, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa shooting guard Josh Oglesby.

The guard, rated a three-star recruit, picked the Hawkeyes over Illinois, Minnesota and Arizona State.

A YouTube searched turned up this video of a game last year:

Elsewhere, coaches attending this weekend's Hall of Fame clinic in Springfield will hear from a pair of MAAC coaches.

Though the MAAC coaches' poll won't come out until later this month, Fairfield already has its first No. 1 ranking -- from the coaches in the Connecticut Six, who picked FU over Quinnipiac for the top spot.

My Trentonian colleague Ryan Feldman, author of The Hoops Report, is launching a really cool product: A basketball-only online radio station.

That'll do it tonight for hoops tonight. But we'll be in action with links and hoops talk over the weekend. And if you're interested in talking football (or even chiming in with an occasional hoops comment), stop by one of's three football chats this weekend: The high school chat that kicks off tonight at 6:50; The Saturday high school chat that begins tomorrow morning at 10:50; or the Rutgers-Tulane chat, which starts at 1:50 -- 10 minutes before the Scarlet Knights and Green Wave kick off in Piscataway.

Happy October; What's in store for the blog this season

While today's soggy, nasty weather isn't exactly a recipe for high spirits across the Northeast, at least we have this:

With the calendar turning to October, Midnight Madness is two weeks away -- and college hoops season is essentially already here.

Fall workouts are in full swing across the country, with formal practices around the corner. The fall recruiting season is in full swing, with some schools (Rutgers) potentially reshaping their programs' identities and others (the Fran-McCaffery-led Hawkeyes) starting to put the pieces together.

And though I've been busy doing everything from getting the paper out to coordinating's new digital high school football coverage and working with other members of the Journal Register Co's ideLab team, the blog should be running at a high level between now and May.

We're still finalizing plans in a few areas, but here's a preview of what we'll have in store.

1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. ... The MAAC Games of the Week, power rankings and picks will be back, as will coverage of every Rider home game and ALMOST every away game. It's never easy for me to get out to Buffalo, and I doubt I'll be able to make the USC game, but either I or one of The Trentonian's correspondents should be at every non-Buffalo MAAC game, in addition to the three games in Western Massachusetts and the Pitt, La Salle and Howard non-conference games.

2. Live chats during all of the aforementioned Rider games and during select other times throughout the year. We had a better-than-expected turnout for the chat during the announcement of all-MAAC teams last March.

How many chats we run depends exclusively on how much of a turnout we figure to get. So I'll throw this out there now: On which other occasions would you tune in for a chat?

During MAAC media day?

Once a week, possibly with various beat writers and columnists chiming in?

Any other times? Leave a comment, send me an e-mail ( or -- most conveniently -- hit me up on Twitter @bendoody.

3. In case you haven't noticed, the team up Route 206 from Rider has gotten a heck of a lot better over the past three years.

When I got to The Trentonian in 2007, once-proud Princeton had become an Ivy League afterthought. But that's hardly the case anymore. With Cornell getting clobbered by graduation losses and a coaching change and Harvard losing all-universe point guard Jeremy Lin, the Tigers will enter the season as the favorite to win the Ivy title and capture the league's NCAA tournament berth.

That means expanded Tigers coverage both here and at The Tigers coverage won't in any way take away from the MAAC and Rider coverage, but should help expand the blog's reach beyond its MAAC base.

4. Like Princeton, Rutgers has given fans reason to pay attention. The Scarlet Knights are likely in for a dreadful 2010-11 season, but as I type, Mike Rice's 2011 recruiting class is ranked seventh in the nation by So we'll have as much Rutgers content as possible.

5. We'll continue to monitor the progress of former MAAC players playing professionally -- especially Jason Thompson, Kenny Hasbrouck and Ryan Thompson in the NBA.

If there's anything you'd like to see here that isn't listed above, let me know. In the meantime, hope everyone had a relaxing offseason and is rarin' to go for another season.