Rider (2-10) at Monmouth (2-9) Gameday
When: Thursday, Multipurpose Activities Center, 7 p.m. 107.7 FM The Bronc.
Last time out: Rider def. Maryland-Baltimore County, 73-66 in overtime. Monmouth lost to Rutgers, 81-66.
Background: The Broncs have played better in their last two games — an overtime loss to princeton and an overtime victory over UMBC — but are in the midst of playing eight of their next nine away from home.
They went 11-6 on the road last year but are 1-4 this season.
The biggest improvement in the last two games has come on the defensive end of the floor. Tommy Dempsey has made a tactical adjustment to use a half-court trap that falls back into a matchup zone.
Rider was allowing 82.3 points per game prior to its previous two contests and allowed less than 80 in both of those games.
Dempsey said utilizing the trap has given his team an energy boost.
“We try to put in a game plan that helps us get stops,” Dempsey said. “We needed something to grab onto defensively, something to rally around. We’ve used this little three-quarter, half-court trap to get the guys excited about defense and keep our opponents off balance.”
Monmouth will play just its second home game of the season Thursday. The Hawks are 2-9 but beat Fordham by 15 in that one home date.
They’ve also played a difficult schedule including games against Villanova, Virginia Tech, George Mason, Vanderbilt and Rutgers.
“I’m really worried about the game,” Dempsey said. “They’ve been away so much that I think they’re going to be really ready for a home game. It’s going to be a tough game.”
At beginning of the season, you would have pegged Rider to win this game but considering the fortunes for the Broncs that’s far from a given.
“Going into the season, it’s a game we really need to win,” Dempsey said. “But if you look at it now, it’s no gimme. We have a two-point win and an overtime win. That’s it. To sit here and make any sense of we’re better this team and they’re better than that team, we’re not there right now. We have to focus on us.”
Monmouth is in a transition year. The Hawks are under first-year coach King Rice and have a depleted roster after several players were dismissed from the team last season.
Junior guard Jesse Steele is the Monmouth player to watch. He leads the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game.
Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Eddie Mitchell (Fr., 3.1 ppg), G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7.9 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (So., 13.3 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 9.8 ppg), C-Dera Nd-Ezuma (Jr., 2.8 ppg).
Monmouth: G-Dion Nesmith (Jr., 8.3 ppg), G-Andrew Nicholas (Jr., 7.5 ppg), G- Jesse Steele (Jr., 11.1 ppg), F- Mike Myers Keitt (Sr., 7.5 ppg), F-Ed Waite (Jr., 8.4 ppg).