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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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rider freshman Zedric Sadler brings added toughness

Freshman Zedric Sadler is helping Rider on defense/Photo by John Blaine
 LAWRENCEVILLE — Admittedly, Zedric Sadler didn’t know much about New Jersey before he arrived at Rider.

But he can be excused for that. After all, it’s not like Detroit is a recruiting hotbed for a small school in Lawrenceville.

“I thought it was a little New York,” Sadler said with a laugh before practice this week as the Broncs prepared for Friday night’s trip to Siena.

Sadler found his way to Rider after a year at the South Kent School (Conn.). He was recruited by Kansas State while starring at Cody High in Detroit (K-State placed him at South Kent although he wasn’t committed to the school), but his plans fell through after Frank Martin left for South Carolina.
 Baggett, then the associate head coach, and assistant Mike Witcoskie saw him at South Kent, liked what they saw, and alerted then-coach Tommy Dempsey.

“He’s a tough-minded kid,” Baggett said. “We needed some more toughness on this team.”
Sadler, with his Motor City-roots, has brought that early on.

He’s playing 17 minutes per game off the bench, averaging 5.3 points, but his real value has been as a secondary ballhandler when Nurideen Lindsey or Jon Thompson needs a break.

Or his work on defense. Sadler had a key blocked shot early this season against Monmouth on a 3-point attempt that would’ve given the Hawks the lead with less than a minute remaining.

“My teammates trust me, my coach trusts me,” Sadler said. “That gives me confidence. I’m just playing basketball. I kind of found my role, but I knew I was going to help the team.”

“I don’t think he even understands what he’s gotten done so far,” Baggett said. “He’s a competitor and if you put him on the court, he’s going to guard guys. He’s playing his role. He’s not doing anything that he’s not capable of doing.”

Sadler said being away from home for a year while at South Kent helped him mature.

“That was the best thing that could have happened,” Sadler said. “I learned a lot from being on my own. Some of these freshmen have to come in and learn different stuff, but I know most of it. My social life is straight. I am able to just focus on school.”

Sadler isn’t the only youngster starting to get his feet under him.

Classmate Shawn Valentine has also contributed significant minutes off the bench. The lanky forward is averaging 3.7 points in 14.2 minutes per game.

He attributed the early success to the group’s competitive nature.

“As a whole group, we’re competitive,” Valentine said. “We compete everyday in practice and try to bring a lot of energy.”

The Broncs (5-4) head to Albany, N.Y., Friday night to face Siena (2-7) in the MAAC opener for both.

Valentine said they are ready for the challenge.

“Just come off the bench with energy,” he said. “We want to have fun, but also have the attitude to be a leader. When I come in the game, I just want to give everything I got.”
Baggett said Lindsey and Thompson could switch roles at times, allowing Lindsey, the team’s leading scorer, to play off the ball.

“You are going to see some of that,” the coach said. “I want to take some of the pressure off Nuri with guys locking in on him as he’s coming down the court. You’ll see both those guys at the point. (I) just want to take the pressure off Nuri having the ball in his hands all the time.”

Thompson played point guard last season, averaging over four assists per game. That was second in the conference to Iona’s Scott Machado — now with the Houston Rockets.

Both Lindsey (14 ppg) and Thompson (10.8 ppg) are averaging in double figures, but Lindsey has struggled with turnovers through the first nine games.

He has 43 turnovers and 18 assists while Thompson has 20 and 32, respectively.

— Follow Kyle Franko on twitter @kj_franko and visit the Full-Court Press blog


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