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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rider makes short trip to Princeton with last year's loss on its mind

Jon Thompson and Rider travel to Princeton/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE

 LAWRENCEVILLE — Kevin Baggett said he hasn’t reminded his team of the loss it suffered a year ago against Princeton.

Well, at least not yet.
 
Rider’s first-year coach is going to bring it up before the Mercer County rivals meet Thursday night at Jadwin Gymnasium. He wants his returning players to remember how that one ended.

At the buzzer. In overtime. On a 3-pointer by Mack Darrow, a player whose only shot of the game was the one that won it.

“It’s not redemption — we just need a win,” Baggett said Wednesday afternoon following practice. “We have to get back on the horse after having fallen off against Fairfield.”


The Broncs have been off 11 days since that 30-turnover performance against the Stags. Add in final exams over that period and it’s easy to understand why the players are anxious to get back on the court.

“Now that school is over and we have time to practice and just play games, I think these guys are excited to get back to playing,” Baggett said.

The coach has been on his players this week, stressing they take care of the ball. On the season, Rider has a 0.6 assist-to-turnover ratio (195 turnovers/111 assists) and is giving the ball away 17.7 times per game.

“That is not acceptable,” Baggett said.

“They are just self-inflicted,” said senior guard Jon Thompson. “We just didn’t come to play against Fairfield.”

When the Broncs make the six-mile trip north on Route 206, they face a team that is also trying to get back on track. Princeton has lost two straight, coughed up a late 10-point lead to Fordham in its last outing and is 0-3 at home.

“They are desperate for a win,” Baggett said. “We’re desperate having just played Fairfield the way we played. I know both teams are going to come out and be ready to go.”

Junior guard Nurideen Lindsey is probable after sitting out practice this week with strep throat. Baggett said Lindsey could have practiced Wednesday but wanted to keep him away from the other players.

If Lindsey, who is averaging 12.5 points per game, can’t go, Baggett said Tommy Pereira is likely to slide into the starting lineup.

Forward Ian Hummer leads the Tigers, averaging 15.3 points per game. The senior finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists last season in the Tigers’ win at Alumni Gym.

“You have to try to limit his touches and scoring opportunities,” Baggett said. “But he’s good, he’s going to get his, but we can’t allow him to go off on us and get his career highs.”

One way for Rider to limit Hummer’s touches is by using its full-court pressure. The Tigers have struggled against the press this season, and they can expect the Broncs to crank it up for 40 minutes.

“We’re going to do the same things we’ve been doing,” Baggett said. “We’re going to continue to press whether it be forcing turnovers or forcing them to use some clock and wearing them down.”

Despite the short distance between them, the two schools have met just 12 times with Princeton holding a 9-3 advantage.

Baggett said the schools are signed for another home-and-home series beginning next season.

But first there’s the matter of finishing this one.

“We look to get revenge on everybody that beat us last year,” said Thompson, who had 17 points against the Tigers a season ago. “It’s important to us because I feel like it’s important to the alumni and the community. It would be fun to beat Princeton.”

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