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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fairfield guard Derek Needham to miss MAAC tourney with broken foot

When Rider beat Fairfield Sunday, there was a glaring omission to the Stags’ roster.

Fairfield played without starting point guard Derek Needham, who injured his foot in its loss to Iona. Turns out, Needham broke a bone in his left foot and will miss the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

“We’re going to miss Derek because he’s a guy that helps us do what we want to do in terms of our gameplan,” said Stags coach Sydney Johnson. “Obviously, the timing isn’t what he would like. But he’s trying to stay positive and he will. He’s trying to be there for his teammates.
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Rider's Penn picks up Second Team honors

Through all Rider’s ups and downs this season, Brandon Penn remained consistent.

The senior forward was rewarded Monday with a spot on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s Second Team, the league announced on a conference call.

“Brandon has really stepped up for us this year and I am happy the coaches in the league recognized him,” said Broncs coach Tommy Dempsey in a statement. “I was disappointed some of our other guys did not make an All-MAAC team but at this point we are just focused on team goals.”
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After middling season, Sydney Johnson trying to win MAAC tourney with Fairfield

LAWRENCEVILLE – Sydney Johnson will be the first one to tell you he loved everything about his time as head coach at Princeton

But there is something about Fairfield that appealed to him.

Like next weekend’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. The Ivy League, of course, awards its NCAA bid to the regular season champion.

“We have a chance to play some basketball on a neutral in T.V. games,” Johnson said Sunday after his Stags fell to Rider, 65-62 at Alumni Gymnasium. “It’s a really special time of year we are now a part of, where at my former spot, we couldn’t have that experience.”
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Gadson lifts Broncs to win over Fairfield; team to meet again in MAAC tourney

LAWRENCEVILLE — At times this season, Tommy Dempsey and Novar Gadson have found themselves at odds.

But if Sunday afternoon was any indication, they might be finding harmony at just the right time.

Gadson finished with 19 points, including Rider’s final eight, complete with a spinning layup with 28.2 seconds remaining to help his team secure a 65-62 victory over Fairfield at Alumni Gymnasium on Senior Day.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” said Gadson, who has struggled at times to regain the form that saw him grab second- team All-League honors after having microfracture surgery on his left knee in the offseason.

“I’ve overcome adversity in my life before,” Gadson said, “and I feel like I can do it again.”
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

GAMEDAY: Rider, Fairfield meet in possible tourney preview

Who: Fairfield (17-12, 12-5) at Rider (12-18, 9-8)

When: Sunday, Alumni Gymnasium, 3:30 p.m.,, 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider def., Loyola, 83-79; Fairfield lost to Iona, 77-72.

Background: Rider won’t have to sweat anything out Sunday afternoon.
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gadson's late bucket gives Broncs big boost

LAWRENCEVILLE — Novar Gadson couldn’t have picked a better time to score his only basket of the second half.

The senior’s layup and free throw with 33 seconds remaining was the game-winning play in the Rider men’s basketball team’s 83-79 victory over Loyola Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

“Coach called my number and I just wanted to deliver,” said Gadson, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “We needed to beat a good team and go into the MAAC tournament with a little bit of momentum.”

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday, Feb. 24 MAAC Live Blog

Live Blog of all the MAAC action going on tonight.


GAMEDAY: Loyola (20-7, 12-4) at Rider (11-18, 8-8)

LAWRENCEVILLE — In the midst of arguably his toughest year as a head coach, Tommy Dempsey is trying to rally the Rider men’s basketball team for one final push.

The Broncs, who have lost four straight, face a crucial Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game Friday night against Loyola (7 p.m., ESPN2).

With a win, they can finish no worse than sixth.

Rider is in fifth place with two regular-season games remaining but face the two teams tied for second in those contests. Both Siena and Niagara are one game behind the Broncs. The Saints played Thursday night.

The goal is avoiding next Friday’s play-in game at the conference tournament.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Myles out for year but Penn ready to go

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Rider men’s basketball team suffered a blow this week when sophomore guard Anthony Myles was ruled out for the rest of the season with a broken left wrist.

Myles sustained the injury Saturday in the BracketBusters loss to Albany.

The injury comes at a bad time for the Dover, Del., native, who was playing his best basketball of the season. He scored a career-high 21 points in the loss to Iona and had eight in 10 minutes against Albany before the injury.
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Rider senior Kevin Noon enjoying life as a walk-on

LAWRENCEVILLE — Jeff Jones couldn’t believe his eyes. The Rider men’s basketball team had just beaten Canisius by 24 points and his roommate, a walk-on who spent his first three years as a team manager, was watching game film.

That’s Kevin Noon in a nutshell.

Noon got in the game that afternoon and had two open 3-point tries but missed both.

“He was up to one in the morning watching that tape,” Jones said.

Jones told his roommate to relax and play.

Noon agreed then told Jones he needed to get him in another game.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

MAAC Monday (Feb. 20)

-- Welcome to the final regular-season edition of MAAC Monday. One weekend left and the standings couldn't be tighter. Four teams are separated by two games and positions 5-7 have just one game between them. Tiebreaker scenarios can get completed and we'll run through them after the jump. One game tonight as Fairfield visits Marist in the contest that was postponed after the off-campus fire that killed Marist students last month. The Stags can pull within one game of first-place Iona with a victory. Those two still face each other Friday. Now, let us get on with it:
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Saturday, February 18, 2012

GAMEDAY: Broncs visit Albany in BracketBusters

Who: Rider (11-17, 8-8 MAAC) at Albany (16-13, 8-7 America East)

When: Saturday, SEFCU Arena, 7 p.m., 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider lost to Iona, 75-62; Albany lost to Vermont, 50-47.

Background: Rider has won three of its last four BracketBuster games and is 3-3 overall in the annual mid-major showcase.

The Broncs travel to New York's capital city Saturday to face Albany, who is 9-3 at home despite losing three straight at SEFCU Arena.

Junior guard Gerardo Suero, who's 22 points per game rank fifth in the nation, missed the Great Danes' loss to Vermont with shingles. Albany's second leading scorer, junior guard Logan Aronhalt, played through a knee injury against the Catamounts but was ineffective in nine minutes.

The Danes have lost four of their last five.

Albany does not have a senior on its roster.

Rider is coming off a 13-point loss to Iona. The Broncs, who have dropped two straight, led by five at halftime but went 9 minutes, 53 seconds between field goals at the start of the second half.

Seniors Novar Gadson (violation of team rules) and Jeff Jones (norovirus) both missed the game. Gadson should feature Saturday while Jones is questionable.

Sophomore guard Anthony Myles scored a career-high 21 points in the loss to Iona.

Rider's 17 losses are the most under Dempsey since the team lost 20 in 2005-06, the year he was interim coach.

This is the first meeting between the schools, although, the Broncs are familiar with the area since Albany's city-rival, Siena, plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The MAAC went 9-1 in BracketBuster games last season.

Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7.1 ppg), G-Anthony Myles (So., 10.2 ppg), F-Novar Gadson (Sr., 10.2 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 12.5 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (So., 11.7 ppg).  Albany: G-Mike Black (Jr., 13 ppg), G-Gerardo Suero (Jr., 22 ppg), G-Logan Aronhalt (Jr., 14.6 ppg), F-Luke Devlin (So., 6 ppg), C-Blake Mercalf (Jr., 4.8 ppg).

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Iona hoping for better starts, happy to be back on top of MAAC

LAWRENCEVILLE – The faster the pace, the better Iona is.

For a half Wednesday night against Rider, Tim Cluess didn’t like the way his team played.

He called it a lack of energy.

The Gaels trailed the shorthanded Broncs, who were missing two starters, by five at intermission before hitting the gas with a 26-6 run to start the second half and eventually cruising to a 75-62 victory.

“We got the tempo going a little faster,” Cluess said. “The end of the first half and the beginning of the second half was almost a crawl. It was all too passive. But then they came out with some more, ‘oomph.’”

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Shorthanded Broncs can't stop Iona

LAWRENCEVILLE — Down a pair of starters, there wouldn’t be many expecting the Rider men’s basketball team to compete with Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leaders Iona.

Yet even after a 75-62 loss Wednesday night at Alumni Gymnasium, the Broncs couldn’t help but feel like they missed an opportunity to beat one of the league’s heavyweights with the conference tournament looming the first weekend in March.

For one half, the shorthanded Broncs, who played without Novar Gadson (violation of team rules) and Jeff Jones (norovirus), battled with grit and guts. Even leading by five at halftime.

But there are teams you can go almost 10 minutes without a field goal against and get away with it. And then there are those you can’t.

Iona is not one of those teams you can have a drought against.

The Gales outscored the Broncs, 26-6, to start the final 20 minutes to open up a 15-point lead and never looked back. Rider didn’t help its cause by shooting 1 of 13 to open the half and going 9 minutes, 53 seconds between field goals.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Broncs face tall test in Iona

LAWRENCEVILLE — All things considered — long bus ride, early morning arrivals, shorthanded team — a split from the Western New York trip would have been nice for the Rider men’s basketball team.

But a controversial defeat Saturday against Niagara leaves the Broncs with a bad taste in their mouth.

Rider should have been awarded a victory when Jon Thompson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the officials, who ruled the shot good on the floor, overturned that decision upon video review when they failed to recognize the clock started prematurely on the final play.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference acknowledged officiating and timing mistakes at the end of the game in a statement Monday, suspending the three game officials from their next MAAC assignment and publicly reprimanding the game clock and video replay operators at Niagara.
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Monday, February 13, 2012

MAAC releases statement acknowledging mistakes at end of Rider, Niagara game

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference released a statement Monday acknowledging officiating and timing mistakes at the end of the Rider men’s basketball team’s 84-82 loss to Niagara Saturday afternoon.

Replays clearly showed that Jon Thompson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer should have counted because the clock started prematurely. The officials, who originally called the shot good, overturned the decision following a video review.

All three officials —Rusty Cooper, Tony Crisp and Kenneth Clark — have been suspended from their next MAAC officiating assignment for failing to realize the clock started early on the final inbound pass, the league announced. There was also a public reprimand issued to the Game Clock Operator and Replay System Operator at Niagara University.
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MAAC Monday (Feb. 13)

-- Three league games to go -- four if you're Fairfield or Marist, who have a makeup game next Monday -- and the MAAC is in the balance. Four teams have a shot at the regular-season championship and the top seed in next month's league tournament in Springfield, Mass. Now that Fairfield has finally found its stride (two important wins over Manhattan and Loyola this week) the final two weeks of the regular season are nicely poised. Time to break it all down:
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Broncs go for three in a row at Niagara

Who: Rider (11-15, 8-6) at Niagara (10-16, 5-9)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m., ‘Taps’ Gallagher Center, 107.7 FM TheBronc.
Last time out: Rider def. Canisius, 71-66; Niagara def. Siena, 58-54.

Background: With a victory, Rider can secure at least a .500 record in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.

The Broncs have five games remaining — four within the conference — before heading north to Springfield, Mass., for the league tournament.

Rider sits fifth in the standings, three games ahead of Niagara and Siena, who are tied for sixth. The Broncs are 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place Fairfield and two back of third-place Manhattan.

When Rider and Niagara met a week ago, the Broncs erased a 17-point second half deficit, winning on Brandon Penn’s 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds to go.

The Purple Eagles snapped a five-game losing streak with their win over Siena Thursday. Ameen Tanksley led the way with a career-high 24 points.

Niagara has a talented backcourt led by freshman Juan’ya Green (16.7 ppg) – held to six points in the first matchup — redshirt freshman Antoine Mason (14.8 ppg) and sophomore Marvin Jordan.

Jordan came off the bench to score 24 points on an Alumni Gymnasium-record eight 3-pointers a week ago.

Rider played Thursday without freshman forward Junior Fortunat and freshman guard Eddie Mitchell. According to a team spokesman, both contracted the norovirus that has spread throughout the school’s campus this past week.

Both remained in the team hotel Thursday night and did not attend the game. Both are listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game.
Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7.2 ppg), G-Jeff Jones (Sr., 13.1 ppg), F-Novar Gadson (Sr., 9.5 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 12.3 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (So., 11.7 ppg).
Niagara: G-Juan’ya Green (Fr., 16.7 ppg), G-Antoine Mason (Fr., 14.8 ppg), G-Ameen Tanksley (Fr., 8.8 ppg), G-Malcolm Lemmons (So., 8.3 ppg), F-Scooter Gillette (Jr., 4.7 ppg).

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Broncs steal late victory over Canisius

Novar Gadson scored 19 points and the Rider men’s basketball team rallied in the second half to steal a victory from last-place Canisius, 71-66, Thursday night at the Koessler Center.

The Broncs (11-15, 8-6) trailed by 10 with 7:19 to go but came roaring back behind Gadson, who scored seven of his 19 points in the time remaining. His layup with 1:35 to go gave Rider a 64-63 lead -- its first of the game.

Canisius (4-20, 1-13) led 63-56 with just under five minutes remaining until Rider ripped off 13 unanswered points. The Griffs were their worst enemy during the run that turned the game, committing turnovers on five consecutive possessions, and receiving a technical foul for trying to call a timeout when they didn’t have any left.

Franklin Milian hit a 3-pointer to snap Rider’s run with 11 seconds to go, cutting the Griffs’ deficit to three. Jon Thompson calmly knocked down two free throws to secure the Broncs, who remained in fifth place, the victory.

Brandon Penn and Anthony Myles both finished with 12 points and Jeff Jones added 10 for the Broncs.

Harold Washington and Chris Manhertz each had 15 to pace Canisius.

Rider played without freshman forward Junior Fortunat (foot/illness) and freshman guard Eddie Mitchell (illness). Both were suffering from the norovirus outbreak that hit the school’s campus this week.

Despite hitting five first-half 3-pointers, the Broncs shot 30 percent and trailed, 34-39 at halftime. Canisius committed a season-low two turnovers in the opening 20 minutes and also outrebounded Rider, 24-23.

The Broncs return to action Saturday when they try to sweep the Western New York trip against Niagara. The Purple Eagles snapped a five-game losing streak Thursday night with a 58-54 victory over Siena.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

GAMEDAY: Broncs start Western N.Y. swing against last-place Canisius

Who: Rider (10-15, 7-6) at Canisius (4-19, 1-12)

When: Thursday, Koessler Athletic Center, 7 p.m., 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider def. Niagara, 74-73; Canisius lost to Marist, 80-69.

Background: Tommy Dempsey doesn’t make a habit of looking at who is chasing his team in the standings.

Instead, he prefers to look up and see who his Broncs might catch.

“I know everyone wants to talk about the play-in game, but I don’t give it any thought,” the Rider coach said. “We’re thinking about climbing the standings. We’re not looking at what the people behind us are doing. I still look at what the people in front of us are doing. Those are the people we’re trying to catch.”
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Monday, February 6, 2012

MAAC Monday (Feb. 6)

-- Hope everybody enjoyed the Super Bowl. But now that the big game is over and done with, it's time to focus on the college basketball stretch drive. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference still looks like a three-team race -- Iona, Loyola and Manhattan are all within a game of each other -- for the regular-season title, although, Fairfield still lurks just behind in fourth. Time to go around the league:
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Penn's 3 caps furious comeback to beat Niagara

LAWRENCEVILLE — Brandon Penn didn’t need to be reminded about how many of his eight 3-point attempts found the nylon in the first 39 minutes and 59 seconds on Sunday afternoon.

“None,” he said.

But how many in the final second?


That one — with 0.8 seconds remaining — was the game-winner in a wild contest in which Rider erased a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat Niagara, 74-73, at Alumni Gymnasium.

Antoine Mason gave the Purple Eagles a two-point lead when he drove to the basket and banked in a mid-range jumper with 6.6 seconds left.

Rider coach Tommy Dempsey elected not to call timeout and Jon Thompson raced up the floor and found an open Penn a few steps behind the 3-point line.
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

GAMEDAY: Rider trying to put distance bewteen itself and bottom-four

Who: Niagara (9-15, 4-8) at Rider (9-15, 6-6)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m., Alumni Gymnasium, 107.7 FM The Bronc.
Last time out: Rider lost to Loyola, 63-46; Niagara lost to Fairfield, 77-69.
Background: Coming off their worst offensive performance of the season, the Broncs will be looking to put some distance between themselves and the bottom-four of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Rider shot 30.6 percent (15 of 49) from the field, including 2 of 18 on 3-pointers in the defeat Friday at Loyola. The 46 points were its lowest output since scoring 40 in a loss to Fairfield during the 2003-04 season.

The Broncs, though, caught a break Friday night when Siena lost to St. Peter’s for the second time this season. They come into Sunday’s contest still in fifth place, one game ahead of the Saints and two in front of Niagara and St. Peter’s.

The Purple Eagles have lost four in a row.

Joe Mihalich’s team does, however, feature two explosive scorers. Freshman Juan’ya Green averages 17.2 points per game and backcourt mate Antoine Mason, a redshirt freshman who is the son of former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason, chips in 15.4 per game.

Rider swept the two games a year ago and has won four in a row and six of the last eight in the series.
Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Eddie Mitchell (Fr., 4.6 ppg), G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7 ppg), F-Novar Gadson (Sr., 9.2 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 12.4 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (So., 12.3 ppg).
Niagara: G-Juan’ya Green (Fr., 17.2 ppg), G-Antoine Mason (Fr., 15.4 ppg), G-Ameen Tanksley (Fr., 8.3 ppg), G-Malcolm Lemmons (So., 8.4 ppg), F-Scooter Gillette (Jr., 5 ppg).

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Rider scores season-low 46 points in loss to Loyola

The Rider men’s basketball team had its three-game winning streak halted Friday night in a 63-46 loss to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference co-leaders Loyola at Reitz Arena.

The Broncs fell to 9-15 overall and 6-6 in the MAAC but remained in sole possession of fifth place after Siena lost to St. Peter’s for the second time this season.

The Greyhounds (17-5, 10-2) kept pace with Iona and Manhattan to keep the three-way tie for first place in tact.

Rider, as its done on multiple occasions, dug an early hole that it couldn’t get out of. The Broncs shot 3 of 23 in the first half and turned the ball over 12 times en route to a season-low 12 points.

The 46 points were also a season-low.

Loyola, which grabbed control of the game with an 18-0 run early in the first half, led by 27 at halftime.

Rider went scoreless for 9 minutes, 11 seconds in the first half while the Greyhounds opened up their lead.

The Broncs tried to make a game of it in the second half, opening the period with a 15-1 run that got them as close as 13.  

Loyola didn’t register a field goal in the second half until Robert Olson made a jumper with 10:42 left.

But that got the Greyhound going as they quickly built the advantage back to 20.

Erik Etherly led Loyola with 15 points and Olson had 14.

Danny Stewart finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Rider before fouling out with seven minutes left.

The Broncs return to action Sunday afternoon when Niagara visits Alumni Gymnasium.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

GAMEDAY: Broncs face co-leaders Loyola

Who: Rider (9-14, 6-5) at Loyola (16-5, 9-2)

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Reitz Arena, ESPNU, 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider def. Siena, 83-72; Loyola def. Canisius, 70-52.

Background: Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos called Rider the hottest team in the league.

While there are some that might disagree with that, the Broncs are playing much better ever since a poor start put them in catch-up mode.
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Eddie Mitchell starting to get comfortable in freshman season

LAWRENCEVILLE — When Eddie Mitchell signed with the Rider men’s basketball team, he knew there were big shoes to fill.

Justin Robinson, one of the best point guards in school history, graduated leaving a void the young Mitchell would have to step into whether he was ready or not.

It has taken a little while, but Mitchell is starting to figure out what it takes to play point guard at the collegiate level.

He had one of his best games in the win over Siena, finishing with six points, six assists and just one turnover.
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