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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tommy Dempsey happy to reach century mark

AP Photo   

--Caught up with Tommy Dempsey at practice Tuesday to chat about reaching the 100-win mark and if he ever thought he'd get there considering the way the team has struggled this year.

LAWRENCEVILLE — Tommy Dempsey will go down in Rider men’s basketball history as the fastest coach to 100 victories.
It still took a little longer than expected.
Dempsey entered this season, his sixth as head coach in Lawrenceville, needing two wins to reach the century mark.
Off to a 1-10 start and on the heels of a six-game losing streak, Dempsey admitted he felt like it might not ever come. But the Broncs held off Maryland-Baltimore County, 73-66, Saturday night in overtime for the milestone victory.
“Any time you reach a milestone, it’s a good feeling,” Dempsey said Tuesday after practice as he prepares to embark on another 100 when his team faces Monmouth Thursday night. “It was just soured by how long it took. But at the same time, it’s a reminder that we won before, and hey, we’ll win again.”
Dempsey needed 176 games to reach 100 wins, passing Kevin Bannon as the quickest to reach the century mark. Bannon, who spent eight years in charge at Rider and is the last coach to guide the Broncs to the NCAA Tournament, did it in 179 games.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while,” said senior forward Brandon Penn. “It just took a long time to get it. I’m glad we finally got it.”
Dempsey said it slipped his mind how close he was to 100 because of the way the team has struggled.
“I didn’t think too much about it because you only need two wins and you don’t think you’re going to have to wait until December,” he said. “I didn’t really give it a lot of thought and kind of forgot about it because it took so long.”
If anything, for Dempsey, the milestone serves as a reminder of the success the program has had over the last five years.
During those first five seasons, the Broncs’ 98 wins were more than any other school in the New York Metropolitan area. Hofstra (95), Long Island (82), St. John’s (81) and Seton Hall (79) all come in behind them. Only Siena (110) had more wins in the MAAC over that period.
“We’re in a little bit of a tough stretch,” Dempsey said. “It does serve as a little bit of a reminder that we’re going to get this right.”
Rider is the midst of playing eight of its next nine games away from Alumni Gymnasium.
While the games are on the road, the schedule does lighten up. Monmouth and Stony Brook — the next two opponents — are a combined 5-15.
“Right now, it’s not about a win-loss number,” Dempsey said. “It’s about performance-by-performance and what can we take out of each game and build on.
“I know that winning is important, but our overall record isn’t going to change overnight. It has to be about, ‘Are we getting better?’ And I feel like we are getting better over the last few weeks. Now you hope that it will translate into wins as you get better.”
Gadson hurting
Dempsey said senior forward Novar Gadson is being hampered by sore knees. Gadson had microfracture surgery in the offseason and said he felt “100 percent” prior to the season opener
Dempsey played him regular minutes but quickly realized he was having a hard time getting up and down the court.
“It’s a wear and tear thing,” Dempsey said. “He’s just having a hard time with his range of motion.”
Gadson didn’t play against Princeton but did see 14 minutes off the bench in the win over UMBC.
Myles picks up knock
Anthony Myles injured his left wrist and sat out practice Tuesday. Dempsey said it’s a minor injury and Myles, who is left handed, will practice Wednesday and play Thursday against Monmouth.
Medley to redshirt
Dempsey said freshman guard Mark Medley will seek a medical redshirt. Medley broke his left wrist in the offseason and re-aggravated the injury during practice.
Medley, from Wilmington, Del., played seven minutes in the season-opener at Robert Morris but hasn’t appeared since and isn’t dressing for games.
He is practicing with the team.

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