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

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fortunat making strides

LAWRENCEVILLE — The plan for Rider men’s basketball coach Tommy Dempsey was always to ease Junior Fortunat in slowly.

It just took a little longer than expected to get him acclimated to the pace and physicality of the college game.

Fortunat, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward, missed the first nine games of the season while he waited for the NCAA to sort out his eligibility. Because he is an international player — from Quebec — sometimes the process of takes a little longer.

Dempsey played Fortunat 18 and 22 minutes, respectively, in his first two games but pulled back the reigns in the next seven. He averaged just more than seven minutes per game during that stretch.

But Dempsey also knows for his team to improve, Fortunat has to have a role. He’s strong and physical and gives the Broncs a presence inside that they’ve lacked for much of the year.

“I just feel good because in practice the coaches really push me to my limit,” Fortunat said. “They give me confidence. I just listen to the coach and as I listen to the coach, I realize I’m doing a better job on the court. By listening and watching film, it really helped me out.”

Over the last four games, Fortunat is averaging a shade less than 17 minutes per contest. He was active Thursday night in the win over St. Peter’s, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in 16 minutes. He was also 4 of 4 from the field.

“Each game he’s got better,” Dempsey said.

The coach can also see his teammates starting to trust him more.

“As he gets more confidence, the team starts to trust that you can throw it in to this guy and he can score,” Dempsey said. “He’s delivering. I think the trust is building in his teammates and I think the confidence is brewing in him.”

If Rider (8-14, 5-5), which sits in a fifth-place tie with Siena in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is going to be a factor in the last nine games (eight in conference), Fortunat has to continue to play a part.

“It’s one of those things where everyone wants it to happen so fast because he’s a talented kid,” Dempsey said. “It’s a learning process and a growing process. He’s going to have a great career here, but it’s not going to be tomorrow. We do know if we’re going to be the type of team we hope to be by the time we get to Springfield, he’s going to be a big part of it.”

To his credit, Fortunat seems to understand that. He talks about how he tries to absorb everything the coaches tell him.

His numbers aren’t great — 3.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game — but that’s not what this season is about for Fortunat.

His freshman season will ultimately be judged by his performance in these final nine games of the regular season and the time the Broncs spend at the conference tournament.

“(The coaches) push me every day in practice,” Fortunat said. “I’m starting to feel much better playing college basketball.”

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home