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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hofstra 58, Rider 48

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Rider was cold early and inefficient late. That meant an early-second half surge wasn't enough in what ended as an ugly 58-48 loss to Hofstra Monday night at Alumni Gym.

Charles Jenkins scored 19 points to lead a balanced scoring attack, and the Pride beat the Broncs for the second straight year, sending Rider to its second straight home loss after a four-game winning streak.

The Broncs, who ranked at or near the top of the national leaderboard in 3-point percentage for their first five games, shot 21 percent (6-for-28) from beyond the arc and only 34 percent (20-for-59) from the floor.

"Really no excuses," said Rider coach Tommy Dempsey. "We played poorly, I coached poorly. Just a group effort. Everyone was bad, from the coaches to the players, right on down the line. There's really no excuse for it. We'll get here early in the morning and try to get better."

Rider (4-3) has scored 60 points or fewer twice in a row after scoring no fewer than 67 in its first five games.

Read the full story here.

LIVE COVERAGE: Hofstra at Rider

Heading north

When this blog launched in December of 2007, no one was sure if there would be enough interest in MAAC and mid-major basketball to make it worthwhile.

I wasn't fully sold on it myself, but my hope was that combining Rider beat coverage with news and some analysis from throughout the MAAC would get the attention of enough people to get it off the ground.

Thanks to an amazingly loyal and dedicated group of people who have taken part in live chats, left comments and, in many cases, contributed with original ideas, the blog has been by far the most fun part of my job at The Trentonian.

With that in mind, it's with mixed emotions that I'm leaving The Trentonian next week for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, where I'll be the morning news editor for the Connecticut Post, Stamford Advocate, Danbury News-Times and Greenwich Time.

In new my new job, I'll be overseeing day-time news coverage on the sites while chipping in for the sports department, which has a heavy focus on local colleges. Conveniently, the MAAC tournament this year will be in Bridgeport -- within walking distance of the Post newsroom.

This blog will stay up at and likely be taken over by my replacement when he or she arrives. In the meantime, the sports staff will keep it active with Rider coverage and tidbits from throughout the MAAC.

I'll be at two more Rider games -- tonight against Hofstra and Thursday at Manhattan -- and will also co-host the weekly MAAC chat with Andy Santillo on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

To everyone who has read the blog and especially to those who have taken part in our live coverage, I'll always be grateful to you for making this work.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

VIDEO: Mitch Buonaguro after Siena's win

VIDEO: Tommy Dempsey after Rider's loss

Friday, November 26, 2010

Siena 73, Rider 60

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Different cast of characters, same story.

Siena's Big Three of Ronald Moore, Alex Franklin and Edwin Ubiles are gone, but the Saints rolled past Rider in Friday night's MAAC opener using the same recipe that got them a win in last year's MAAC tournament semifinals: a backbreaking run in the second half to pull away for a convincing win.

The difference this time -- as the Saints beat the Broncs 73-60 for their seventh win in eight meetings -- was the magnitude of the run.

After the Broncs led 47-44, Siena went on a 20-1 to put the Broncs away. The run was a prolonged version of the 16-0 run the Saints used last March in Albany.

It wasn't an all-out thrashing like the one the Saints delivered last February in their last trip to Alumni Gym. It was, however, a sign that things haven't changed all that much in the MAAC, in which Siena is capable of routinely winning on the road.

"I thought the team that played better won the game," said Rider coach Tommy Dempsey. "We were just a step slower today. We were a step off. ... It wasn't a good performance by our group and I thought, to give Siena credit, they played well, they played better than us and we got what we deserved because we didn't play well enough to win."

Read the full story here.

LIVE COVERAGE: Siena at Rider

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Siena-Rider at a glance


WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Alumni Gym

RECORDS: Siena is 1-3; Rider is 4-1

ON THE AIR: Radio: 107.7 FM, (Daryl Fein, Steve Rudenstein, Kevin Bannon)

SERIES: Siena leads 23-10

LAST MEETING: Siena won 72-62 last year in the MAAC tournament semifinals

The Saints, winners of the last three MAAC regular-season and tournament championships, figure to contend in the MAAC despite losing a class that included all-MAAC players Alex Franklin (last year's conference Player of the Year), Ronald Moore and Edwin Ubilies. ... Ryan Rossiter, the preseason MAAC Player of the Year, has lived up to or exceeded expectations early on. The Staten Island native is averaging 22.8 points (21st in the country) and 12.3 rebounds (fifth). He has double-doubles in three of the Saints' four games this season and 20 of their last 23 going back to last year. ... Senior shooting guard Clarence Jackson, a Marlton native and preseason first-team all-MAAC pick, is averaging 18.8 points and shooting 50 percent (10-for-20) from 3-point range. ... O.D. Anosike (9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds) is the Saints' best hope for a third scoring option. ... Freshman point guard Rakeem Brookins (7.3 points, 3.5 assists) has played well after moving into the starting lineup last Saturday at Northeastern. ... Junior forward Owen Wignot (6.8 points) is shooting 55 percent (6-for-11) from 3-point range.

With a balanced scoring attack led by Justin Robinson, the Broncs have won four straight for the first time since late in the 2008-09 season. .... Robinson, who shared Player of the Week honors with Siena's Jackson last week, is averaging 17 points per game and shooting 52 percent from 3-point range. ... Novar Gadson, taking significant strides forward and drastically improving his shot selection, is averaging 13.6 points and shooting 65 percent (11-for-17) from 3-point range after shooting 29 percent last year. The junior from Philadelphia has scored in double figures in all five games, including a season-high 18 in a 73-63 win last Sunday over Loyola Marymount. ... Mike Ringgold is averaging 12.6 points and a team-high six rebounds. He scored 16 points last Sunday on 8-for-11 shooting. ... Brandon Penn, in his first year as a full-time starter, is averaging 6.2 points and shooting 50 percent (6-for-12) from 3-point range. ... Sophomore Jon Thompson has started all five games and is averaging 4.2 points in 19.6 minutes. ... Freshman Danny Stewart is averaging 4.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving MAAC chat

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving MAAC chat

Sunday, November 21, 2010

VIDEO: Tommy Dempsey on win over LMU

Rider 73, Loyola Marymount 63

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Rider was sluggish early and not fully in control late. But the Broncs are headed back to New Jersey having put together a fulfilling weekend -- and feeling confident heading into next Friday's MAAC opener against Siena.

The Broncs, with a balanced approach led by Novar Gadson's 18 points, beat Loyola Marymount 73-63 for their fourth straight victory. They've won their last three games -- all on the road or a neutral site -- by an average of 15 points.

Rider trailed by as many as eight in the first half. After the Broncs took control with a 17-4 run early in the second half and stretched the lead to 14, the Lions went on a 10-0 run to get within four at 63-59.

But the Broncs executed late to win their fourth straight -- something they didn't do at all last year and haven't done since winning five straight from Feb. 18 to March 7, 2009.

The Broncs host Siena Friday in the MAAC opener for both teams.

The MAAC has been anything but impressive in the season's first two weeks, but the Broncs and Saints both made the league look good this weekend: Rider winning with relative ease in the Hall-of-Fame Tip-Off Classic and Siena routing a talented Northeastern team Saturday on the road.

Read the full story here.

LIVE COVERAGE: Rider vs. Loyola-Marymount

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rider 76, TCU 61

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Back in Massachusetts, Rider put to bed any notion that the Broncs are a first-half team.

Playing a TCU team that had won its first two games by 20 or more points apiece, Rider overcame a six-point halftime deficit Saturday afternoon for a thoroughly impressive win, its third in four games to open the season.

Unlike the Broncs' first trip to the Bay State, when they blew a 21-point halftime lead and lost to UMass, Rider turned it on in the second half, quickly turning a back-and-forth struggle into a blowout.

The Broncs used a 32-12 run to build a double-digit lead and coasted from there, getting contributions from nearly everyone.

Justin Robinson, enjoying the best four-game stretch of his career, scored 18 points. Novar Gadson, starting to work within the flow of the offense and drastically improving his shot selection, had 15 -- just the beginning of the list of players who made an impact.

Every Bronc played and all but two -- freshman guard Tommy Pereira and sophomore center Dera Nd-Ezuma -- scored.

Read the full story here.


Travel, win over USC helping Rider build chemistry

Few teams have traveled as much this season as Rider, which opened the season at UMass, played one home game and flew cross-country to play USC before heading back north this weekend to Springfield.

But given the Broncs' 77-57 rout of the favored Trojans last Wednesday, the travel has helped build chemistry.

Unlike last year, when Rider got its doors blown off by Virginia and Kentucky before heading on a long trip to Cancun, the Broncs have had reason to be in a good mood.

Even after blowing a 21-point lead in last Friday's opener at UMass, Rider remained confident, knowing it had a chance to quickly move on with its home opener looming.

The trip back from Los Angeles could have been dreadful, but having blown out a Pac 10 team on its home floor, the Broncs were eager to get up and hit the road at 6 a.m. for the return cross-country flight.

"Everyone was smiling, having a good time," coach Tommy Dempsey said. "We got up to get on the plane. We checked out of our hotel at 6 a.m. and you would have thought it was noon. I don't care if you're at home or you're 20,000 miles away, nothing builds chemistry like winning. We went out there, played 10 guys and we won. Losing tests your mettle and tests your character, but when you win it seems to be a lot easier to keep good chemistry."

Rider-TCU at a glance


WHEN: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: MassMutual Center, Springfield, Mass.

WHAT: Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic

RECORDS: Rider is 2-1; TCU is 2-0

SERIES: First meeting

ON THE AIR: Radio: 107.7 FM, (Daryl Fein, Steve Rudenstein and Kevin Bannon)

The Broncs manhandled USC Wednesday night in one of their most impressive showings of the past two seasons. Justin Robinson scored a game-high 28 points on 9-for-10 shooting. The senior guard was 5-for-5 from 3-point range and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. In three games this season, Robinson is 9-for-13 (69 percent) from 3-point range and 11-for-12 (92 percent) from the line. He's averaging team bests in points (19.3) and assists (4.3). ... Mike Ringgold is averaging 11.7 points and a team-high six rebounds. ... Novar Gadson is averaging 11.7 points off the bench and is 5-for-9 (56 percent) from 3-point range despite having shot 29 percent from long range last year. ... Brandon Penn is averaging seven points and 4.7 rebounds. ... Danny Stewart (five points, five rebounds) and Jon Thompson (3.7 points) are also probable starters.

The Horned Frogs, under aptly named third-year coach Jim Christian, have cruised in their first two games, routing Jackson State 86-62 and 84-64 over SMU. ... TCU is eight in the country in field goal percentage at 55.5 percent but 325th in rebounding at 29 per game. ... Five-9 junior point guard Hank Thorns is averaging 11 points and a team-high 10 assists. He had 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting and 10 assists against SMU. ... Six-2 junior guard Ronnie Moss is averaging a team-high 18 points along with 3.5 assists. He scored 20 to lead the Horned Frogs over Jackson State. ... Six-9 freshman Amric Fields is averaging 13.5 points. ... Six-7 sophomore Garlon Green is averaging 13 points and five rebounds. ... Sammy Yeager, a 6-4 sophomore guard, is averaging 12.5 points and a team-high 5.5 rebounds. He had 17 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes against SMU.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rider 77, USC 57

This report filed by The Trentonian's Fred Sakai:

LOS ANGELES - Any negative effects Rider may have had traveling cross-country for the game against USC were quickly erased when the Broncs took command in the opening minutes, ultimately leading to a wire-to-wire 77-57 victory Wednesday night.

Rider (2-1) started out hot with a 15-6 lead and continued to play good basketball throughout the game, part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.

While the Trojans clawed back to a 21-21 tie with 5:39 left in the first half, the Broncs quickly responded with their own 10-2 run in a span of 3:51. Justin Robinson and Jhamar Youngblood each scored five in that run.

Rider took a 36-27 lead to halftime.

While still fresh were the memories of the second half collapse at UMass, the Broncs had two 6-0 runs, sandwiched between a USC 3-point play by Bryce Jones, to lead by 18 with 16:36 left in the game.

Read the full story here:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Weekly MAAC chat

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rutgers 68, Fairfield 53

PISCATAWAY -- Judging by the staggering number of empty seats at Monday's Rutgers-Fairfield game, you wouldn't know that Mike Rice was beginning to infuse life into a dormant program.

Rice, having just signed a top-10 recruiting class and coaching his first game at the RAC, has created a buzz that has affected recruits but not yet potential ticket-holders.

Yet despite the rag-tag roster that Rice inherited from Fred Hill, the product on the court may be worthy of increased support.

In a 68-53 win over the Stags, the Knights surged ahead by clamping down on defense late in the first half, then maintained that energy down the stretch to pull away from the MAAC favorites.

"I thought against Princeton our energy was good but when we went back and watched film, the details were brutal," Rice said, referencing Rutgers' season-opening overtime loss last Friday. "We had two days of great practice defensively and we shored up some of the mistakes in our defense. When you put that intensity with a purpose, it's a pretty good effort."

Read the full story here.

LIVE COVERAGE: Fairfield at Rutgers

Fairfield-Rutgers chat Monday from the RAC

VIDEO: Rider-Lafayette postgame

VIDEO: TCNJ preview

TCNJ, which played an exhibition game last weekend at Rider, opens its season tonight against Elon.

Here's what Pete Kelly, Brandon Johnson and coach Kelly Williams had to say about the team's Mercer County flavor and the challenges of playing Division I teams:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rider 80, Lafayette 73

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Every Rider player player and all but one scored, lifting the Broncs to an 80-73 win over Lafayette on Sunday at Alumni Gym.

The Broncs' bench outscored 37-7 their Lafayette counterparts 37-7, helping Rider recover from an opening-night loss to UMass to record their first win of the year.

Justin Robinson had 18 points and five assists, Novar Gadson had 10 points and freshman Danny Stewart had nine points and eight rebounds for the Broncs, who play at USC Wednesday.

Mike Ringgold had six points and six rebounds and passed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the first half.

Jim Mower scored 31 points on 8-for-11 3-point shooting for the Leopards (0-2).

LIVE COVERAGE: Lafayette at Rider

Lafayatte game a chance to move on for Rider

Mike Ringgold stood outside the Rider locker room Friday night still unsure of exactly what went wrong.

At halftime, in the same hallway, the Broncs' captain had gathered an energized team that shouted its signature phrase -- hungry and humble -- before taking the court in the second half with a 21-point lead.

Now the senior forward was perplexed, having just been part of a collapse in which Rider was outscored 53-22 in the second half of a 77-67 loss to UMass.

The mood was different. This, though, remained the same: Regardless of the outcome Friday, the Broncs had a quick turnaround before Sunday's game against Lafayette.

This is a long season, one in which Rider needs to build momentum heading into the MAAC season. The Broncs were sky high after upsetting Mississippi State in last year's opener. They were dejected Friday night, but last year offered a lesson: Reacting to performances, good or bad, is as important as the initial performance.

"It's a learning experience," Ringgold said. "We're going to have to get back to the drawing board."

Friday's game was not a game was not seesaw battle. Rather teams going on alternate runs, this was a rout in Rider's favor in the first half followed by an even bigger rout in UMass' favor in the second.

The Broncs had opportunities to halt UMass' momentum, but could never do so.

"I thought we could have done a better job handling the pressure," Ringgold said. "I thought the whole time that we would push the lead back to 15, but it just went the other way."

Yet for all their struggles, the Broncs won't have to ponder what went wrong for long. Sunday presents an opporunity both to move on and to make a statement in Rider's home opener.

"This game really doesn't mean anything," Ringgold said. "We want to try to win them all, but it's good that we get to go back home and play before the home crowd."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Princeton gearing up for No. 1 Duke

Princeton's season-opening 78-73 win over Rutgers was an impressive first step -- a game in which the Tigers followed through when many predicted they would win against a team that has owned them in the recent past.

Sunday, it gets a whole lot harder.

The Tigers, preseason favorites to win the Ivy League, will get the biggest test imaginable when they play No. 1 Duke in front of a hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd.

The Blue Devils, the consensus favorite to repeat as national champions, are playing their opener -- a scene that could cause many opponents to become unraveled.

But the Tigers are talented, experienced and smart -- the hallmarks of successful Princeton teams of the past. Coach Sydney Johnson said he's confident his team can maintain its composure.

“I just think we’re trying to play to our strengths," Johnson said. "Are we going to run and gun with Duke? Probably not, but there are certain opportunities when we’re going to go. It is a point of emphasis and we’re not going to get crazy with it, but I think we can score points. We have talent, but we still have to defend. Rutgers field goal percentage was a little too high, so we have to fix that.”

Read the full story here.

Rider-Lafayette at a glance


WHEN: Sunday, 4 p.m.

WHERE: Alumni Gym

ON THE AIR: Radio: 107.7 FM, (Steve Rudenstein and Kevin Bannon); TV: ESPN Full-Court,, RCN Cable Network.

RECORDS: Both teams are 0-1

SERIES: Lafayette leads 39-36

LAST MEETING: Rider won 84-77 on Nov. 23, 2008 in Easton, Pa.

The Leopards, picked second in the preseason Patriot League coaches' poll, lost their season opener 63-58 Friday at Wagner. ... Jared Mintz, a 6-9 senior forward who averaged 14.1 points per game last year, had 23 points and seven rebounds in Friday's loss. ... Six-8 junior forward Ryan Willen (12.2 ppg last year) had 11 points on 3-for-7 shooting Friday. ...Six-3 junior guard Jim Mower (13.3 ppg last year) had 10 points Friday. ... Tony Johnson, a 6-foot sophomore guard, had eight points and three assists, while fellow guard Ben Wheeler had five points and four rebounds. ... The Leopards got virtually no production Friday from their bench -- an indication that Rider's reserves could have a major advantage Sunday. Guard Rob Delany, with one point in 19 minutes, was the only Lafayette reserve who scored. ... Forward Levi Giese and guard Nick Petrovich played 18 and 14 minutes, respectively, but neither scored.

The Broncs looked like a Big East team in the first half Friday at UMass and an NJAC team in the second. Rider built a 22-point lead with aggressive ball-movement and lights-out 3-point shooting, then let it slip away with passive offense and sometimes lackluster defense. ... Mike Ringgold led the Broncs Friday with 21 points and nine rebounds, all but two of the rebounds coming in the first half. ... Novar Gadson had 13 points off the bench on 3-for-3 3-point shooting, while Justin Robinson scored 12 points but was largely contained in the second half by UMass freshman point guard Daryl Traynham. ... Rider's three freshmen -- forward Danny Stewart and guards Anthony Myles and Tommy Pereira -- combined for only six points in 36 minutes. Stewart, one of Rider's starting power forwards, had no points and three rebounds in 13 minutes. ... Brandon Penn started but played only 14 minutes, finishing with five points on 1-for-5 shooting.

VIDEO: Tommy Dempsey after loss to UMass

VIDEO: Pregame, postgame scene at UMass

Here's the pregrame and postgame scene at the Mullins Center, with postgame reactions from the Minutemen's Freddie Riley and Anthony Gurley and coach Derek Kellogg:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Princeton 78, Rutgers 73

This report filed by The Trentonian's Steve Miller:

PRINCETON — For as much as the first half at Jadwin Gymnasium was all about Princeton on Saturday, the second half was all Rutgers.

But the deciding period was overtime, when the Tigers earned a 78-73 win.

Princeton sophomore Ian Hummer got the Tigers going, driving to the basket and laying it in as the shot clock expired to give the Tigers a 69-66 advantage.

It was the second key basket for the 6-foot-7 forward, who tied the game at 65, forcing the extra period. A 3-pointer by senior guard Dan Mavraides extended Princeton’s advantage, sealing the decision in the intrastate rivals’ season openers.

“It feels great, it definitely feels great,” said Mavraides, who led all scorers with a career high 26 points. “I personally never beat Rutgers, coach [Sydney Johnson] has never beat Rutgers, so it definitely means a lot. We play them every year and it’s kind of a backyard battle, so it means a lot.

UMass 77, Rider 67

AMHERST, Mass. -- The first half of Friday's Rider-UMass game was so lopsided in Rider's favor that the UMass student section nearly emptied at halftime.

Too bad they didn't stick around.

What looked like an emphatic statement for Rider turned into a stunning collapse, one full of defensive breakdowns, sloppy possessions and untimely turnovers in a 77-67 loss.

I think the worst thing that could have happened to us was halftime," coach Tommy Dempsey said. "We were in such a good rhythm in the first half and what got us ahead, what gets you ahead is that aggressiveness, but now you're up 20 points and you're trying to play smart while still being aggressive, and we didn't have a good mix of that."

With a barrage of early offense led by lights-out 3-point shooting, the Broncs threatened to turn this into an all-out thrashing. Rider finished the first half on an 11-3 run and led 45-24 at the break -- a score that stood out among the number of eye-openers from throughout the country.

But the second half ended up being even more lopsided than the first, the Minutemen all but running the Broncs off the floor. Those of the 3,784 who actually stuck around made it a hostile environment for the Brocns, who couldn't halt UMass' momentum as a 15-3 run became a 40-9 run.

"We were trying to chip away, but chipping away became a couple of 3s," said UMass coach Derek Kellogg. "... I thought early in the game, we had an unbelievable crowd. The students were here in droves. To have them there and kind of lay an egg, we have to make sure they write some good stuff and the students realize we had a good game so they come back."

Read the full game story here.


LIVE COVERAGE: Rutgers at Princeton

Live Opening Night coverage

VIDEO: Justin Robinson on Rider-UMass

Thursday, November 11, 2010

VIDEO: Mike Ringgold on Rider-UMass

Rider-UMass at a glance


WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Mullins Center, Amherst, Mass.

ON THE AIR: Rider radio: 107.7 FM, (Daryl Fein, Steve Rudenstein); TV: Live feed available at

RECORDS: Season opener for both teams.

SERIES: UMass leads 7-0

LAST MEETING: UMass won 73-63 on Dec. 23, 2004 in Amherst.

The Broncs return seven of their top eight scorers from last year, but not Ryan Thompson, who led the team in points and minutes and tied for the lead in assists. ... Justin Robinson (13.3 points, 45 percent 3-point shooting) is their leading returning scorer. After sharing ball-handling duties with Thompson over the past two seasons, he'll be back to being the full-time point guard, a role he played during his freshman season in 2007-08. ... Mike Ringgold (11 points, 7 rebounds per game last year) joined Robinson as a preseason second-team all-MAAC pick. He'll likely be joined in the starting frontcourt by Brandon Penn (4.2 points, 39 percent 3-point shooting last year) and freshman Danny Stewart. ... Sophomore Jon Thompson (2.4 points in 16.9 minutes last year) will likely start alongside Robinson in the backcourt, with freshman Anthony Myles (16 points in Sunday's exhibition win over TCNJ) and Novar Gadson (11.2 points, team-high 7.5 rebounds last year) coming off the bench.

The Minutemen, under third-year head coach Derek Kellogg, were picked 11th out of 14 teams in the preseason Atlantic 10 media poll. ... Leading scorer Ricky Harris (19.8 points per game last year) is gone, now playing professionally in Lithuania, but the rest of the core of last year's team is back, led by 6-3 senior guard Anthony Gurley. Gurley, who played one season at Wake Forest before transferring, averaged 13.6 points and 4.2 rebounds last year. He needs 30 points to reach 1,000 for his career. ... Six-7 forward Terrell Vinson (9.6 points, 5.4 rebounds last year) will be a handful for Ringgold and Stewart in the low post, as will 6-9 junior center (7.1 rebounds, team-best 1.3 blocks). ... Vinson had 21 points and nine rebounds last year in a win over Memphis. ... Six-10 senior Hashim Bailey, who played his first two seasons at Memphis, averaged 4.7 rebounds last year off the bench. ... Six-5 sophomores Freddie Riley (9.3 points, 35 percent 3-point shooting) and Javorn Farell (38 percent from 3) are threats from the perimeter. ... Highly regarded freshman Daryl Traynham, a 5-9 point guard, will share ball-handling duties with Gurley.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Greg Lewis, Myles Mack, Mike Taylor first to sign with Rutgers

Rutgers sent out this press release on the Knights' first three signees:

PISCATAWAY -- Rutgers University head men's basketball coach Mike Rice announced Wednesday that power forward/center Greg Lewis (Baltimore, Md), point guard Myles Mack (Paterson, NJ) and shooting guard Mike Taylor (Brooklyn, NY) have signed to compete for the Scarlet Knights. The incoming trip signals the start to the early period, in which recruiting analysts predict RU to sign an incoming class ranked among the top nationally.

"We are very excited to welcome Greg, Myles and Mike into the program," said Rice. "Not only are they talented basketball players, they are quality young men who will help us build a foundation for the future. We look forward to a recruiting class that Rutgers and its fans will be proud of."

Live chat: MAAC season preview

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MAAC chat Wednesday at 11 a.m.

MAAC Lookalikes of the Year are .... Anthony Bozzella and Rick Moranis

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, it's time to announce the winners of the first annual Full-Court Press MAAC lookalikes contest.

Having received 36 percent of the vote in the six-way race, the MAAC Lookalikes of the Year are Iona women's coach Anthony Bozzella and Rick Moranis, as shown playing Dark Helmet in the sci-fi mega-hit Spaceballs.

Congratulations to mo_donnell, who submitted the nomination via Twitter, and thanks to everyone else for the nominations.

Below are the official elections results:

Anthony Bozzella and Rick Moranis: 36 percent
Ed Cooley and Aaron Neville: 28 percent
Tim Cluess and Edward Rooney: 19 percent
Jimmy Patsos and Jack Arnold: 11 percent
Ryan Rossiter and McLovin: 6 percent
Joe Frager and John Malkovich: 0 percent

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stonehill 61, Fairfield 60

Well, Fairfield lost to a Division II team last year and still rebounded to get to within a jump shot of the NCAA tournament.

With that in mind, there is a precedent -- also set last year with Syracuse, which lost to LeMoyne before eventually earning a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance -- for teams suffering humilating defeats like the one Fairfield suffered tonight.

But if Ed Cooley and Co. wanted to keep the buzz going into Saturday's opener against Sacred Heart, losing to Cooley's alma matter tonight at the Arena at Harbor Yard probably wasn't the best idea.

The most alarming stat for a team that's supposed to have good low-post play? The Stags were outrebounded 39-34.

If you're not on high blood pressure medication and think you can survive looking at it, here's the box score.


Anyone up for MAAC hoops chatter?

In addition to the regular Rider game chats, I'm pleased to announce I'll be co-hosting a live MAAC chat every Wednesday morning along with Troy Record Siena beat writer Andy Santillo.

The chat will be live every week at 11 a.m. both here and on Andy's On the Sidelines blog.

Grant Fiorentinos to Tulane

Grant Fiorentinos, a 6-foot-10 English import who stars at the Hun School in Princeton and went on an official visit to Rider last month, verbally committed today to Tulane, according to multiple published reports.

Fiorentinos was at Rider for last month's Midnight MAACness festivities. At the time his list of considerations included the Broncs, Robert Morris and Florida Atlantic, but the Green Wave showed increased interest over the last month and today, landed Fiorentinos.

The Broncs, who got a commitment last week from 7-foot-1 Lithuanian Nerijus Anglickis, have two available scholarships.

Guards Eddie Mitchell and Mark Medley committed to Rider over the summer and, along with Anglickis, are expected to sign national letters of intent this fall.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Myles impressive in Rider win

LAWRENCEVILLE -- After each 3-pointer went through, barely grazing the rim on its way down, Anthony Myles paused for a split second, casually pumped his fist and grinned.

This was the face of a player very much at home -- pleased but not surprised by his success.

If Rider is going to exceed expectations this season, players like Myles -- a touted freshman from Dover, Del. -- will have to make a major imact.

Saturday's 80-42 exhibition win over Division III TCNJ didn't offer many clues as to how the season will unfold. But the play of Myles and junior forward Brandon Penn were clear positives as the Broncs prepare for Friday's opener at UMass.

Myles scored 16 points off the bench in 24 minutes. He finished 5-for-8 from the floor and -- most impressively -- 4-for-5 from 3-point range. He'll have to manage a delicate balance this season, scoring when called upon but knowing his role as a secondary option and not trying to do too much.

Saturday was a good start.

Read the full story here.

VIDEO: Tommy Dempsey after Rider's exhibition win

Here's Tommy Dempsey after Rider's 80-42 win over TCNJ.

... Quick correction on a question I asked: Anthony Myles HAS missed a 3-pointer. He missed one today, having gone 4-for-5. So the next miss will actually be his second. So my question -- how will Dempsey react to the first miss? -- was off by one.

We'll have video from Myles and Brandon Penn later on.

Rider 80, TCNJ 42

LAWRENCEVILLE -- In its only dress rehearsal before next week's season opener at UMass, Rider routed Division III TCNJ 80-42 Saturday at Alumni Hall.

Brandon Penn scored 19 points -- the last two on a 360 dunk in the final minutes -- and freshman Anthony Myles had 16 on 4-for-4 3-point shooting for Rider, which played its first game since 2003-04 without one of the Thompson brothers on the roster.

Novar Gadson had 12 points, Justin Robinson had 11 and Mike Ringgold added nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Broncs, who play the Minutemen Friday in Amherst, Mass.

Nottingham High's Peter Kelly scored nine points and Donovan Smalls scored seven -- five in the first five minutes -- to lead the Lions, who had won the previous five meetings between the schools.


VIDEO: Novar Gadson on Rider-TCNJ

VIDEO: Justin Robinson on Rider-TCNJ

Thursday, November 4, 2010

VIDEO: Kareem Maddox at Princeton media day

VIDEO: Sydney Johnson at Princeton media day, part 2

VIDEO: Sydney Johnson at Princeton media day

This video and the next two are courtesy of The Trentonian's Ryan Feldman:

VIDEO: Doug Davis and Ian Hummer at Princeton media day

This video courtesy of The Trentonian's Ryan Howard:

Target on Princeton's back as season approaches

This report filed by The Trentonian's Ryan Feldman:

PRINCETON – The time is now for Princeton men’s basketball.

After a successful season last year in which the Tigers finished 22-9 overall, 11-3 and second place in the Ivy League, they are now the conference favorites this season.

Princeton had a shot at winning the Ivy last season but fell short of conference powerhouse Cornell after losing both games to the Big Red. The Tigers then won two games in the College Basketball Invitational before being eliminated by Saint Louis in the semifinals.

"Last year taught us a lot," said junior guard Doug Davis. "We went further than we did the previous year. We made mistakes but we also had a lot of success. I think that’s gonna carry over into this year."

Cornell has dominated the Ivy for the past few years, but now Louis Dale, Ryan Wittman, Jeff Foote and head coach Steve Donahue are all gone. That gives the Tigers a huge opportunity to win the league and start a new era of success atop the Ivy League.

"With this team, it’s not ‘This is the year,’" said Princeton head coach Sydney Johnson. "We don’t believe in that stuff at all. If you bust your tail in practice every day, we’ll go get what is coming for us, what belongs to us. There’s no ‘This is our year’ stuff."

Read the full story here.

Notes from Rider practice

Stopped by Rider practice early this morning, and came away with a few notes:

First, Tommy Pereira is more in the mix than I anticipated he would be.

Coming in -- partially because Periera grew up in England and came to Rider from the Canary Islands -- he was almost an afterthought when discussing Rider's freshmen.

There's no question Anthony Myles and Danny Stewart deserve to be the headliners of the class, and that they'll make an immediate impact. But Tommy Dempsey indicated Pereira is very much in the mix to get starters' minutes or something close to that.

Aside from Justin Robinson, Pereira is Rider's best outside shooter. That gives him an immediate role. But Dempsey has also been impressed with other aspects of his game and thinks he's a good fit in Rider's offense.

Next, Rider is leaning toward flipping Novar Gadson and Brandon Penn, using Penn as more of a small forward and Gadson as a power forward. The Broncs' hope is that will maximize those players' strenghts -- Penn's outside shooting, Gadson's muscle -- while minimizing their weaknesses, such as Gadson's often shaky perimeter shooting.

Because Rider's offense is so perimeter-oriented -- for all intents and purposes, they haven't had a center since Jason Thompson's departure -- there isn't always a huge difference between the guy playing the 3 and the guy playing the 4. But look for Gadson to play more as a post player than a guard.

Lastly, everyone is a full-go healthwise except for Dera Nd-Ezuma, who's still hobbled by tendinitis. Nd-Ezuma, who had injections in both knees last month, will not dress for Saturday's exhibition game against Division III TCNJ.

Rider news and notes with exhibition approaching

Rider plays its only exhibition game Saturday against Division III TCNJ at Alumni Gym -- the Broncs' lone dress rehearsal before opening the season for real Nov. 12 at UMass.

A few notes as the game approaches:

* When the Broncs scrimmaged Seton Hall last weekend, Tommy Dempsey was extremely impressed -- in some ways, pleasantly surprised -- with the play of freshman Anthony Myles, who came off the bench while classmate Tommy Pereira started.

* Pereira didn't shoot well, but Dempsey was pleased with how the English import fit into the Broncs' offense and passed the ball. Dempsey said another freshman, Danny Stewart, had some "big-time blocks."

* Beyond Justin Robinson and Mike Ringgold, Dempsey isn't sure who will start Saturday against TCNJ or in the opener at UMass.

Regardless, the Broncs should have far more options off the bench than in years past -- one of the few areas where this year's team has a real upgrade over the teams of the last two or three years.

Whereas last year, Dempsey settled into a rotation that was mostly eight or nine deep, this year's bench could include some combination of Myles, Jhamar Youngblood, Pat Mansell, Jon Thompson, Brandon Penn and, presumably, when healthy, an improved Dera Nd-Ezuma, who should make strides since last year was just his third season of organized basketball.

"Our athleticism from the guys who came off the bench was really good," Dempsey said of last week's scrimmage. "I felt like I had some real great players to bring off the bench, and I thought that fit us well. Anthony gave us a real lift and Danny did as well, so we looked like a pretty deep team."

There's no question Myles, rated the No. 171 prospect in the country out of Polytech High in Dover, Del, is one of the four or five most talented players on the roster. A similar thing can be said about Stewart, who fits a need Rider has with interior defense and rebounding.

But there's no guarantee either will start, at least not when the season begins.

There's also no guarantee Novar Gadson will be in the starting lineup, though he's fully healthy now after suffering an offseason ankle injury. Gadson, when he's on, could be Rider's most dangerous weapon. But he's been inconsistent throughout his first two seasons and has sometimes performed better off the bench.

Which five start won't be as important as which six or seven get the most minutes. With that in mind, look for Robinson, Myles, Gadson, Penn, Stewart and Ringgold to be mainstays, with players like Mansell, Pereira, Youngblood and Thompson having opportunities to earn more minutes.

Nd-Ezuma, still recovering from tendinitis in both knees, might take several weeks to work up to full speed, though he should be healthy enough to suit up for the opener. His progress will certainly be hindered by his health, but if he can prove capable of providing five to eight minutes of good defense, look for him to do that as soon as he's physically able.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eric LeGrand admitted to rehabilitation center

Not hoops-related, but figured I'd post this here. Rutgers sent out the following press release on paralyzed defensive tackle Eric LeGrand:

Rutgers junior defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (Avenel, N.J.) has been admitted to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the nation’s leaders in spinal cord rehabilitation, in West Orange, N.J. The LeGrand family requests that the media respect their privacy at this time as he transitions to this next phase of care and treatment.

“Eric is in good spirits and is anxious to take the next step in his rehabilitation process,” said Karen LeGrand. “Thank you to everyone for the tremendous outpouring of love, support and prayers for Eric.”

Wesley Jenkins cleared to practice

Very good news for Saint Peter's: Peacocks guard Wesley Jenkins, who injured his knee in early October and was in danger of missing the season if he had required surgery, was cleared to begin practice.

Saint Peter's spokesman Dan Drutz said Jenkins' rehab is "going great." If there are no setbacks, he should be game-ready by early December, meaning he'll be in the lineup for virtually the entire MAAC season.

Jenkins, a 6-2 senior from Newark, averaged 13.8 points and 5.2 rebounds last year. He was voted a presason first-team all-MAAC selection.

Nerijus Anglickis Rider-bound

Rider wanted size from its recruiting class of 2011, and the Broncs got plenty of it today.

The Broncs got a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Nerijus Anglickis, from Lithuania via the Canarias Basketball Academy. He'll be the tallest player to play for Tommy Dempsey in Lawrenceville.

Anglickis is the Broncs' third verbal commitment of the class, joining guards Eddie Mitchell and Mark Medley. Rider also has a 2012 commitment from Shawn Valentine, a guard who reclassified as a junior and is spending two years at the Phelps School in Malvern, Pa.

Rider has two more available scholarships.

Anglickis is the second player in as many years to join the Broncs from the Canary Islands academy, which also produced freshman shooting guard Tommy Pereira.

Wednesday morning links

A few links before I throw in the towel on watching election coverage and get a little sleep:

* The CollegeInsider mid-major top 25 is out, and two MAAC teams are ranked -- Fairfield at No. 10 and Siena at No. 20. Iona is also receiving votes.

* Speaking of Fairfield, Ed Cooley and Derek Needham raved last week at media day about the progress Greg Nero has made since returning from a weakened immune system to perform like an all-league candidate in preseason workouts.

Well, as Chris Elsberry writes, Nero's progress was on display Monday night, when the fifth-year senior had 13 points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes.

* Wondering why Edwin Ubiles wasn't selected in Monday's D league draft? As Mark Singelais writes, Ubiles' agent pulled him out of the draft, but he has signed a D league contract and will be on a team when he's done rehabbing a leg injury that slowed him for much of last year.

* Jerry Carino has lots of good stuff from Kevin Willard's first media day at Seton Hall.

Lastly, a programming note: I'll be talking MAAC hoops with Ryan Feldman on Hoops Talk Live today in the noon hour. Should be fun.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MAAC lookalike contest voting update: Anthony Bozzella surges into lead

We're two days into MAAC lookalike voting, and favorites are starting to emerge.

While Fairfield women's coach Joe Frager as John Malkovich is being shut out -- the only candidate stuck at zero percent -- his Iona counterpart, Anthony Bozzella, as surged into the lead in his role as funnyman Rick Moranis.

Here's the first of several updates on the race:

Anthony Bozzella and Rick Moranis: 39 percent of the vote
Ed Cooley and Aaron Neville: 28 percent
Tim Cluess and Edward Rooney: 17 percent
Jimmy Patsos and Jack Arnold: 11 percent
Ryan Rossiter and McLovin: 6 percent
Joe Frager and John Malkovich: 0 percent

You can vote here or here (on the left side of the page). Voting goes through next Monday.

Big East to add two football-playing members

The Big East just issued the following press release:

PHILADELPHIA -- The BIG EAST Conference submitted the results of its extensive self-analysis and evaluation of the college athletics environment today at its annual Conference Board of Directors meeting. Based on those results, the BIG EAST presidents agreed to the interests of each of the conference's 16 member institutions would be served by increasing the number of Bowl Subdivision football-playing members to 10. They unanimously approved the process to evaluate the terms and conditions of potential candidates.

"Today our Board of Directors affirmed a set of key strategic initiatives, including expansion, designed to enhance membership stability and maximize our value," stated Commissioner John Marinatto.

Marinatto said the conference will refrain from commenting further on the expansion process.

AP Rutgers preview: Mike Rice looking ahead, not back

The Associated Press chimed in today with its Rutgers preview, which is posted in part below:

PISCATAWAY — Dwelling on the players who chose to leave the basketball program is a waste of time for new Rutgers coach Mike Rice.

With the season opener set for Nov. 12 at Ivy League favorite Princeton, there is no time for the Scarlet Knights to think about what might have been.

They face the task of rebuilding one of the worst programs in the Big East Conference and they will have to do it without guard Mike Rosario or big man, Greg Echenique, who both transferred out of the program last season.

"Truthfully, I am not really worried about any of that," sophomore guard Dane Miller said. "Every man needs to do what they think is best for them. I sat down with my mom after Mike and Greg left to blueprint our plans, but I wasn't going to leave. I felt like I committed here in 11th grade for a reason. We decided that it would be better for me to stay."

Rosario, the team's leading scorer last season, transferred to Florida last spring. He was one of 12 players to leave the school since former head coach Fred Hill took over for Gary Waters in 2006.

Impressed by Rice, who led Robert Morris to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances out of the Northeast Conference, Miller recommitted himself and returns as the go-to player on offense.

"I am not going to be the only player teams will have to worry about," Miller said. "When they try and stop me, we'll have a counter for it."

Click here to read the full story.

Rutgers-McGill in photos

Thanks to Tom Ciszek and the folks at Rutgers for sending over the photos.

Rutgers 80, McGill 68

It’s not Syracuse, but it’s a start.

The opponent was McGill University, a Montreal school known for its top-notch academics but not one with a Big East-level basketball program.

But after a summer of intense workouts, the Rutgers men’s basketball team was finally able to take the court last night for a dress rehearsal of the Knights’ Nov. 12 opener at Princeton.

The results weren’t spectacular, but the Knights handled the Redmen with relative ease in an 80-68 win — the first time the team had taken the court with Mike Rice on the sidelines.

“We played hard, we were closing out, we’re trying to be the aggressor and aggressive doesn’t mean putting your hands on the offensive opponent,” Rice said. “You want to make the (opposing) team play quicker than they want and get them out of their offensive sets, but that doesn’t mean putting your hands on them.“We have to play with that aggressiveness, but with a little more purpose. Other than that, I thought the energy was good and the effort was good.”

Dane Miller had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Knights, who are looking to become relevant again in the Big East after the disastrous Fred Hill era.Jonathan Mitchell had 16 points and freshman Mike Poole added 11 off the bench for Rutgers.

“I definitely have to get used to (the rapid substitutions),” Miller said. “I think it is good because it gives everyone a chance. Everyone gets their feet wet and then you come out. You know you’re going to get back in, even if you mess up. Everyone has to get used to it. (Rice) does it in practice too.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

NCAA won't penalize Iowa for Kutcher-Moore violation

Fran McCaffery can breathe a sigh of relief. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore may brought his program widespread ridicule, but Iowa will not be penalized for what the NCAA considers a secondary violation.

The report from the Associated Press:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa says the NCAA won't penalize the Hawkeyes for allowing two basketball recruits to meet celebrity fans Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

The school said Monday that the NCAA ruled the actions by Iowa staffers were "secondary" in nature and both unintentional and accidental. Iowa also said the recruits have been fully cleared.

Published reports in September and October quoted Josh Oglesby, a senior at Cedar Rapids Washington High School, and Marcus Paige, a junior at Linn-Mar High School, as saying they met the acting couple at the Iowa-Iowa State football game in September.

The school's report said the recruits also met two former Hawkeyes basketball players that day.

Polls now open for MAAC lookalikes voting

If you're itching to vote in races for the House, Senate or your state's governor's mansion, you'll have to wait till tomorrow.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait another second to vote in the blog's first ever MAAC lookalilkes contest. Polls are open now, on the left side of the college sports page.

The polls will be open for a week, after which point we'll crown a champion.

Before you head to the polls, be sure to view all six nominees right here, listed in chronological order from the first nomination submitted to the last:

* Tim Cluess (Iona men's coach) and Edward R. Rooney (principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
* Ryan Rossiter (Siena center) and McLovin' (ladies' man)
* Jimmy Patsos (Loyola men's coach) and Jack Arnold (dad from Wonder Years)
* Ed Cooley (Fairfield men's coach) and Aaron Neville (R&B star)
* Joe Frager (Fairfield women's coach) and John Malkovich (acting legend)
* Anthony Bozzella (Iona women's coach) and Rick Moranis (actor who played Dark Helmet)