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Thursday, November 4, 2010

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.

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