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The Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog is back and improved. We'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about Rider and Princeton hoops as well as the college basketball landscape.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More TV info ... but this time for the Rutgers women

This SHOULD be the last TV-related post of the day.

But hours after the MAAC unveiled its national TV schedule and ESPN announced the BracketBuster field, the Rutgers women's team -- which, for now, should be the most competitive team on campus -- released its TV schedule, which is listed below.

The Scarlet Knights will be on national TV six times, including Big East games against Syracuse (twice), Louisville and Saint John's.

The games that aren't eventually selected for either regional or national TV will be available on KnightVision, with the talented duo of Danny Breslauer and Adam Helfgott on play-by-play and color duties.

The televised games are as follows:

Dec. 19 vs. Texas A&M -- noon on ESPNU
Jan. 11 at Syracuse -- 7 p.m. on CBS College Sports
Jan. 29 at Louisville -- 6 p.m. on Big East TV
Feb. 1 at Saint John's -- 7 p.m. on CBS College Sports
Feb. 6 vs. Syracuse -- noon on ESPNU

Ryan Thompson impressing Jazz with defense, work ethic

Ryan Thompson isn't going to be the Utah Jazz's leading scorer. He's unlikely to lead the team in assists -- a title reserved for all-star point guard Deron Williams -- or rebounds.

But the former Rider star, the Broncs' leader last year in a bevvy of statistical categories, has impressed coach Jerry Sloan as one of the several players with non-guaranteed contracts who could work his way onto Utah's opening-night roster.

"This team is all about defense," Thompson said by phone from Utah. "That's what we talk about all the time."

Thompson, undrafted after averaging 17.2 points for the Broncs last year, signed with Utah after playing on NBA summer league teams with the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings.

Early last month, he had offers from the Kings -- his older brother Jason's team -- and the Jazz. Though he's thrived in the past when playing alongside Jason, he chose Utah because he thought Sloan and Co. offered the best chance for him to fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.

Thompson's work in training camp has just begun. The Jazz opened camp this week and will be on display to the public for the first time in an open scrimmage this weekend. An exhibition season will follow in which he'll need to prove he has the talent and work ethic to stick.

So far, though, the reviews have been positive.

Thompson has earned several endorsements from Sloan, who has a history of taking under-the-radar rookies and turning them into impact players.

And one of Thompson's biggest fans has been Williams, who singled Thompson out Wednesday as one of the newcomers with the best chance to stick.

"Ryan, definitely, I think has a strong chance to make this team," Williams told the Salt Lake Desert News. "Just watching him in some of the pickup games and 3-on-3 we've played, I definitely can tell he has confidence. He can defend, he gives us some added length and that's something we need."

Williams won't be the one deciding who makes the final cut. But having the point guard's confidence means a lot to Thompson, who has been able to pick the veteran's brain about the ins and outs of being an NBA guard.

"You always look for positives," he said. "Especially when it's coming from the best guy on the team."

BracketBuster field biggest in history

It's been a busy day for ESPN, which unveiled the complete field for BracketBuster weekend. At 114 teams, it's the biggest field in the event's history.

Fairfield, Niagara, Rider, Marist and Siena will play at home, while Canisius, Iona, Loyola, Manhattan and Saint Peter's will be on the road.

Below is a full look at the field, courtesy of the MAAC:

BracketBusters Schedule (subject to change)

Date

Time (ET)

Network

Fri, Feb 18

7 p.m.

ESPN2

9 p.m.

ESPNU

Sat, Feb 19

11 a.m.

ESPNU

1 p.m.

ESPNU

3 p.m.

ESPNU

5 p.m.

ESPN2

5 p.m.

ESPNU

7 p.m.

ESPN2

9 p.m.

ESPN2

11 p.m.

ESPN2

Sun, Feb 20

1 p.m.

ESPN or ESPN2

Home and Away Teams (Matchups will be announced Jan. 31)

Home Team

Visiting Team

America East

America East

Stony Brook

Maine

Boston University

New Hampshire

Vermont

Big Sky

Big Sky

Eastern Washington

Montana

Portland State

Northern Arizona

Montana State

Northern Colorado

Idaho State

Sacramento State

Weber State

Big South

Big South

High Point

Charleston Southern

Liberty

Gardner-Webb

Presbyterian

Radford

UNC Asheville

VMI

Winthrop

Big West

Big West

Cal Poly

CS-Fullerton

Long Beach State

CS-Northridge

UC-Davis

UC-Irvine

UC-Santa Barbara

UC-Riverside

Pacific

Colonial

Colonial

Drexel

Delaware

James Madison

George Mason

UNC- Wilmington

Georgia State

Old Dominion

Hofstra

Towson

Northeastern

William and Mary

VCU

Horizon

Horizon

Loyola Chicago

Cleveland State

Valparaiso

Detroit

Wright State

Green Bay

Youngstown State

Milwaukee

Metro Atlantic

Metro Atlantic

Fairfield

Canisius

Marist

Iona

Niagara

Loyola (Md.)

Rider

Manhattan

Siena

Saint Peter’s

Mid-American

Mid-American

Akron

Ball State

Buffalo

Bowling Green

Eastern Michigan

Central Michigan

Northern Illinois

Kent State

Toledo

Miami

Western Michigan

Ohio

MEAC

MEAC

Morgan State

Delaware State

Missouri Valley

Missouri Valley

Drake

Bradley

Indiana State

Creighton

Northern Iowa

Evansville

Southern Illinois

Illinois State

Wichita State

Missouri State

Ohio Valley

Ohio Valley

Murray State

Austin Peay

Southeast Missouri

Eastern Illinois

Tennessee-Martin

Eastern Kentucky

Tennessee State

Jacksonville State

Tennessee Tech

Morehead State

Southern

Southern

College of Charleston

Appalachian State

Western Carolina

Davidson

Wofford

Summit League

Oral Roberts

WAC

WAC

Fresno State

Boise State

Louisiana Tech

Hawaii

Nevada

Idaho

New Mexico State

Utah State

San Jose State

West Coast

West Coast

Saint Mary’s

Loyola Marymount

Independent

Independent

Seattle

Rider-Niagara tips off MAAC's ESPN schedule

Rider's Jan. 7 game at Niagara is the first of of seven MAAC games to be aired on ESPNU, the MAAC and ESPN announced Thursday. The game tips at 9 p.m. in Lewiston.

Siena plays at Saint Peter's on Jan. 21, also in a made-for-TV 9 p.m. tip. Fairfield and Iona will square off on ESPNU Feb. 4 in Bridgeport, also at 9.

On Friday, Feb. 25, ESPN2 will selected a wildcard game and ESPNU will air an additional game. Games scheduled that day are Manhattan at Canisius, Siena at Fairfield, Iona at Saint Peter's, Loyola at Niagara and Rider at Marist. ... So you can put a good bit of money on Siena-Fairfield -- a rematch of last year's overtime thriller of a MAAC title game -- to be one of the games selected.

ESPNU will broadcast three women's-men's doubleheaders: The Loyola and Fairfield women and men on Jan. 14 in Baltimore; the Canisius-Manhattan women's game and Canisius-Niagara men's games on Jan. 28 in Buffalo, and the Iona-Marist women's game and Iona-Siena men's game Feb. 11 in New Rochelle.

The conference is moving the women's tournament title game, usually played Sunday afternoon, to Monday. The game will be televised on ESPNU for the first time. The men's title game will be played in its usual Monday night spot, at 7 p.m. on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Date

Match-up

Location

Time

Outlet

Nov. 25

Wisconsin vs. Manhattan%

Orlando, Fla.

2:00 PM

ESPN2

Nov. 26

Boston College/Texas A&M vs. Manhattan%

Orlando, Fla.

12/2:30 PM

ESPN/ESPNU

Nov. 28

TBA vs. Manhattan%

Orlando, Fla.

TBA

ESPN2/ESPNU

Jan. 7

Rider at Niagara

Niagara Univ., N.Y.

9:00 PM

ESPNU

Jan. 14

Fairfield at Loyola (W)

Fairfield at Loyola

Baltimore, Md.

4:30 PM

7:00 PM

ESPNU

Jan. 21

Siena at Saint Peter's

Jersey City, N.J.

9:00 PM

ESPNU

Jan. 28

Manhattan at Canisius (W)

Niagara at Canisius

Buffalo, N.Y.

4:30 PM

7:00 PM

ESPNU

Feb. 4

Iona at Fairfield

Bridgeport, Conn.

9:00 p.m.

ESPNU

Feb. 11

Marist at Iona (W)

Siena at Iona

New Rochelle, N.Y.

4:30 PM

7:00 PM

ESPNU

Feb. 25

Wild Card

TBA

7:00 PM

ESPN2

Wild Card

TBA

9:00 PM

ESPNU

Mar. 7

Women's Championship

Men's Championship

Bridgeport, Conn.

1:00 PM

7:00 PM

ESPNU

ESPN/ESPN2


Monday, September 27, 2010

Rider embracing low expectations

Between getting the paper out, working on our new digital high school football coverage and dabbling in a little college football, it's been a while since I found any time for college hoops.

I did however, chat with Tommy Dempsey for 20 minutes last Friday. Here's the story, which is also up at Trentonian.com.

This fall has been nothing like last year’s, and that’s OK with Tommy Dempsey.

When the preseason MAAC caoches’ poll is released next month, Rider will likely be slated no higher than fifth. Unlike last year, Dempsey will not pick the Broncs first on his ballot — something he did last year to inspire confidence in a team that was seeking to dethrone Siena as conference champion.

Instead, as the Broncs go through fall workouts, Dempsey is happy to be away from the spotlight.

“We’re embracing the fact that people don’t think we’re going to be very good,” the coach said. “We’ve challenged them. We don’t have a guy in our locker room who’s been an all-league player. ... When you don’t have any all-league players on your team you’re not going to be picked very high. They don’t think your players are very good, or they’d put them on an all-league team.”

It’s not that Rider hasn’t been represented on all-MAAC teams for the past several years. Far from it. The Broncs have had a first-team all-MAAC player in each of the past four years and have had either a first- or second-team selection every year since joining the league in 1997-98.

The problem is that each time the Broncs have had a Player of the Year candidate under Dempsey, it’s been a Thompson brother — a luxury Dempsey will be without for the first time since taking over for Don Harnum in 2005-06.

The lack of star power, coupled with high expectations for Fairfield, Siena, Iona and Saint Peter’s, means the Broncs will be pegged as a middle-of-the-pack team.

“The expectations are low,” Dempsey said. “We don’t have to live up to expectations that we put on ourselves. We’re taking a more low-key approach We’re taking the approach that we’re going to get better every day, we’re going to win as many games as we can and this is going to be a really good basketball team.”

That’s a marked contrast from last September, when Dempsey and his players insisted they’d be disappointed with anything less than a conference title.

After Rider upset No. 18 Mississippi State in its season opener, the Broncs’ confidence appeared validated. Shortly thereafter, though, the team slipped into a months-long funk.

Preseason MAAC Player of the Year Ryan Thompson struggled in December and January and Rider needed to win six of its final nine MAAC games just to finish .500 (9-9) in the league.

After losing to Siena in the MAAC tournament semifinals, Rider finished 17-16 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2006-07.

The feeling, both inside and outside the Broncs’ locker room, was that the team underachieved.

Yet the upcoming season is far from hopeless. Rider doesn’t have Ryan Thompson, but does have four returning starters, several of whom — Justin Robinson, Mike Ringgold and Novar Gadson — have shown streaks of dominance.

Rider also has what could be Dempsey’s best recruiting class. Shooting guard Anthony Myles is the school’s first HoopScoop top 200 recruit, and power forward Danny Stewart is expected to provide immediate help with defense and rebounding.

The Broncs suffered from poor chemistry last year, a factor that led to three players — forward Jermaine Jackson and guards Carl Johnson and DeShawn Mitchell — leaving the program.

“We didn’t play as well together last year,” Dempsey said. “We didn’t rebound the ball well and we didn’t play good enough defense. Those are areas we’re stressing every day, and areas they seem to embrace.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Trentonian U: Rutgers thoroughly unimpressive, but there's no reason to panic

With college football upon is, the FCP now has a sister blog. Trentonian U. Here's a post on Rutgers' ugly 31-0 win over Norfolk State:

Had Rutgers pulverized Norfolk State on Thursday night, it would have been more than a bit premature for Knights fans to start booking tickets for the Fiesta Bowl.

With that in mind, that the Knights' season-opening win over an undermanned FCS opponent was somewhere in between unconvincing and downright embarrassing doesn't mean fans ought to declare the season over and start counting the days until Mike Rice holds his first formal practice.

After Rutgers turned in a fairly impressive second half, outscoring Norfolk State 25-0, I feel only slightly different about this team than I did before the game began.

This team is young. It has talent in certain areas but huge question marks in others. In the opener, the areas of question were a lot more clear than the areas of certainty.

The offensive line, for instance, was a mess, allowing Norfolk State to put constant pressure on Tom Savage, even shaking him up once on a late second-quarter sack. The kicking game was similarly shaky, with San San Te missing two of his first three field goal attempts.

Savage -- even when considering his line hung him out to dry on multiple occasions -- was far from great -- a key reason the Knights finished with 154 passing yards, only 23 more than Norfolk State.

The Knights freshmen? Neither Jordan Thomas nor Jeremy Deering did anything particularly memorable. But that merely means it's too early to cast a verdict on how good they'll be this year, whereas monster performances would have lent credence to the optimistic theory that they'll be bigtime players right away.

But this wasn't all ugly. The defense allowed Norfolk State to threaten on several occasions in the first half but didn't break. Brandon Bing blocked two punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Joe Lefeged.

Joe Martinek still isn't going to make anyone's Heisman watch list, but he plowed through the Norfolk defense when Rutgers desperately needed to start moving the ball in the third quarter.

So after what was, in essence, a glorified scrimmage, perhaps this is the most important thing:

No one got hurt.