Blogs > The Full-Court Press

The Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog is back and improved. We'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about Rider and Princeton hoops as well as the college basketball landscape.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breaking down the BracketBusters

ESPN announced the matchups for its 10th annual BracketBusters on Monday night, with only Iona from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference making a national TV appearance.

All games will be played the weekend of Feb. 17-19.

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

Here's a rundown of how the MAAC BracketBusters shape up starting with Iona:
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Broncs face UAlbany in BracketBuster

The Rider men’s basketball team will face the University of Albany in its BracketBuster matchup.

The game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at Albany’s SEFCU Arena.

“Facing Albany will be a real test for us,” said coach Tommy Dempsey. “We look forward to the challenge.”
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MAAC Monday (Jan. 30)

-- Happy Monday! The top three all held serve to remain tied at the league summit but that will change this week. Iona travels to Manhattan on Saturday trying to avenge a loss from a game in which it held a 17-point second half lead. Look out for BracketBusters, which are announced tonight at 6:30 on ESPNU. Expect both Iona and Loyola to find themselves in high-profile games. Now without further ado, around the MAAC we go:
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rider earns tough win, avoids season sweep against Siena

LAWRENCEVILLE — The last thing Rider men’s basketball coach Tommy Dempsey wrote on the board before his team took the court Sunday afternoon was its motto:

No sweeps.

Having already avoided a season sweep twice, the Broncs made it a third Sunday with an 83-72 victory over Siena at Alumni Gymnasium.

“Every time someone beats us we always talk about that.” Dempsey said. “Sweeps in the league really hurt you. You don’t want anyone to think they have a mental edge on you as you go into a tournament setting.”

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

GAMEDAY: Rider, Siena hook up in key MAAC game

Who: Siena (10-10, 5-5) at Rider (8-14, 5-5)

When: Sunday, Alumni Gymnasium, 2 p.m., 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider def. St. Peter’s, 90-55; Siena def. Marist, 66-55.

Background: Tommy Dempsey briefly sat his team down after Siena rallied to beat Iona last Monday and delivered a simple message.

“Keep pushing,” Dempsey told his team, “because you win this regular season championship and you win this conference championship on the floor.”
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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.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Jones bounces back to help Rider pound St. Peter's

LAWRENCEVILLE — The sailing hasn’t always been smooth this season for Rider men’s basketball guard Jeff Jones.

There were high expectations placed on the senior’s shoulders. He was an All-League Third Team selection before even playing a game in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Then again, that’s what’s expected when you score over 500 points at an ACC school in the first three years of your career.

But a month in the season, one that began 1-10 for the Broncs, Jones found himself yanked from the starting lineup and being asked to provide a spark off the bench.

He’s done that in spurts, averaging 12.8 points per game, but not enough for a team that was picked to finish fourth in the league’s preseason poll.

It all came to a boil when he was suspended for the win over Canisius for a violation of team rules.

But Jones worked that issue out over the last few days of practice and had coach Tommy Dempsey predicting a big game from the team’s second leading scorer.

Jones delivered with a game-high 19 points to help Rider crush St. Peter’s, 90-55, Thursday night at Alumni Gymnasium and move into fifth place in the MAAC, a 1/2 game ahead of Niagara and Siena, who visits Lawrenceville Sunday.
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rider trying to stay afloat in wacky MAAC against St. Peter's

Who: St. Peter’s (4-16, 3-6) at Rider (7-14, 4-5)

When: Thursday, Alumni Gymnasium, 7 p.m., ESPN3.com, 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider def. Canisius, 89-65; St. Peter’s lost to Loyola, 65-54.

Background: At the halfway point of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule, the league is wide open.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

MAAC Monday (Jan. 23)

-- Happy Monday to all. We'll take a look at news and notes from around the MAAC in a moment but first condolences to Marist College and the families of those that lost their lives in the off-campus fire Saturday. The school postponed Sunday's men's game against Fairfield and Monday's women's game against St. Peter's.

First some Rider news to pass along: The school officially announced the transfer of Nurideen Lindsey from St. John's today. Lindsey is enrolled in the school for the second semester, which began today. He can also begin practicing with the team today.

The school will apply for a waiver that would allow Lindsey, a sophomore, to play immediately as a junior next season. If that waiver is denied, Lindsey would have 1 1/2 years of eligibility remaining and would be able to begin play with the Broncs in December.

Lindsey appeared in nine games -- all starts -- for the Red Storm, averaging 11.8 points per game before announcing his decision to transfer in December.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Broncs return home with win over Canisius

LAWRENCEVILLE – Following a four-game road trip and a stretch of eight out of nine away from Alumni Gymnasium, the Rider men’s basketball team was happy to be home.

So happy that it began a string of seven out of 11 to finish the season in Lawrenceville with an 89-65 thrashing of Canisius Sunday afternoon.

“I felt (being home) gave us a boost,” said coach Tommy Dempsey, whose team has played at home just once since Dec. 14. “My message to the team was just because we were home, it doesn’t guarantee success. But I felt like we were ready. If we played with energy, there was a good chance we would win today.”
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Rider assistant coach Ben Luber, a Penn State alum, reflects on Joe Paterno

LAWRENCEVILLE – Ben Luber remembers his first meeting with Joe Paterno like it was yesterday.

Luber, now an assistant coach with the Rider men’s basketball team, was on his official visit to Penn State when Paterno checked him into a wall and gave him some advice.

“You have to toughen up to play in this league,” Luber said Sunday recalling Paterno’s message.

The legendary Penn State coach died Sunday morning at the age of 85 following a battle with lung cancer.
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Broncs try to snap three-game skid against lowly Canisius

Who: Canisius (4-14, 1-7) at Rider (6-14, 3-5)

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

Last time out: Rider lost to Iona, 91-71; Canisius lost to Niagara, 75-56.

Background: The Broncs are coming off a third consecutive defeat after falling by 20 to Iona Friday night.

Mike Glover had 21 points, Lamont Jones 20 and Scott Machado 11 and 15 assists as the Gaels pulled away late in the first half and never looked back.

The loss left Rider in a three-way tie for sixth place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Broncs are even with Siena and St. Peter’s at 3-5.

The top six teams get a first-day bye in the conference tournament while teams 7-10 have to play on the opening night.

After facing last-place Canisius Sunday, Rider hosts St. Peter’s Thursday and Siena next Sunday.

The Broncs have 10 conference games remaining and play seven of those at home. They just finished a stretch of eight out of nine away from Alumni Gym, going 5-4.

Canisius has dropped two straight and five of its last six. The Griffs’ lone conference win came against Marist on Jan. 13.



Harold Washington is Canisius’ best player, ranking third in the MAAC in scoring with 17 points per game.

The Broncs and Griffs split last season’s meetings with each winning on the other’s home floor.

Gabby Belardo hit a last-second jumper to give Canisius a 67-65 victory for their first ever win at Alumni Gym. The Griffs are 1-13 all-time in Lawrenceville since Rider moved into Alumni Gym.

Danny Stewart is the Broncs’ top scorer, averaging 13 points per game. Jeff Jones (12.8 ppg) and Anthony Myles (9.8 ppg), who combined for 31 points in the loss at Iona, have given Tommy Dempsey some offensive punch off the bench.

Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Eddie Mitchell (Fr., 4.5 ppg), G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7.4 ppg), F-Novar Gadson (Sr., 8.5 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 12.3 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (So., 13 ppg).

Canisius: G-Harold Washington (Jr., 17 ppg), G-Gabby Belardo (Jr., 10.5 ppg), G-Alshwan Hymes (Jr., 14.9 ppg), F-Chris Martinez (So., 7.8 ppg), F-Josiah Heath (Fr., 4.7 ppg).

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Iona puts one on Broncs

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year Mike Glover scored 21 points to lead five Iona players in double figures as the Gaels shot 54.8 percent and helped themselves to an easy win over the Rider men's basketball team, 91-71, Friday night at the Hynes Athletic Center.

The Broncs lost their third straight after winning three straight and five out of six. They finished this stretch of eight out of nine on the road 5-4.

Scott Machado, a Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 finalist, had 11 points and 15 assists. Machado came into the game averaging a nation-best 10.4 asssits per game. The Gaels had 27 assists on 34 made baskets.

Iona (15-4, 7-1) averages a league-best 7.8 3-pointers per game and hit 13 Friday night. Sean Armand, who hit 10 in one game against Siena, hit five first halft 3s to account for all 15 of his points.

The Broncs (6-14, 3-5) didn't shoot the ball badly themsleves, connecting on 47.5 percent of their shots. But they only hit 6 of 19 3-point attempts.

Jeff Jones came off the bench to lead Rider with 17 points and Anthony Myles finished with 14.

The Gaels began pulling away late in the first half with an 11-2 run that spotted them a 38-25 lead with 2:11 left until halftime.

Kyle Smyth's jumper with 14:10 left in the game gave Iona its biggest lead, 67-40.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Broncs complete road trip at Iona

LAWRENCEVILLE — The birthday gift Rider men’s basketball forward Danny Stewart wants most is an upset win over Iona.

Stewart turns 20 Friday, the same night the Broncs travel to New Rochelle, N.Y., to face the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference favorite Gaels in a nationally televised game.

Coming in, all the talk is about Iona.

“From the beginning of the year, everybody has been counted out and all the talk is about Iona,” Stewart said. “It’s kind of a challenge for us. We have to come out and handle our business.”
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St. John's transfer Nurideen Lindsey set to join Rider

A Rider source confirmed reports that St. John’s transfer Nurideen Lindsey is set to join the Broncs.

CBS Sports Network’s Jon Rothstein first reported that Lindsey had settled on Rider following his announcement to leave the Big East school in December.

The source said Lindsey will enroll in classes next week — the university begins its second semester Monday — and seek a waiver that will allow him to begin play at the beginning of next season.

Lindsey, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard from Philadelphia by way of Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla., averaged 11.8 points per game in nine appearances — all starts —for the Red Storm.

He originally announced on twitter last week that he would be transferring to Arkansas but had a change of heart and decided to move closer to home.

Lindsey also considered Temple and Saint Joseph’s.

Lindsey, a sophomore, will have 1 1/2 seasons of eligibility remaining and can begin playing for the Broncs next December unless he is granted the waiver that will allow him to begin play immediately next season.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Broncs drop second straight, falling at Fairfield

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Without knowing how anything this season would play out, Rider men’s basketball coach Tommy Dempsey circled this current four-game road trip on his calendar.

He knew his team would be tested. He knew it would find out just where it stood in the context of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Would it be a challenger for the regular season title or playing for seeding?

The answer, if not already known after the team's 1-10 start, came Monday night. The Broncs will be playing for seeding after dropping their second straight, 61-52, to Fairfield at Webster Bank Arena.


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Monday, January 16, 2012

MAAC Monday (Jan. 16)

-- Happy MLK Day! Hope those of you that have a day off are enjoying it. I'll be heading to Bridgeport for Rider-Fairfield tonight but first a look back at the week that was and a look ahead to the upcoming week in the MAAC. To start, a Rider-Fairfield preview:


Rider (6-12, 3-3) at Fairfield (8-9, 3-3): Who had these two teams as a combined 14-21 coming into this game. Both teams (Rider picked fourth, Fairfield second) were expected to challenge for a regular season title but that hardly looks the case.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rally falls short at Siena

The Rider men’s basketball team dug itself a 22-point hole that it couldn’t get out of despite a furious rally in the final 12 minutes, falling to Siena, 83-79 Thursday night at the Times Union Center.

Brandon Penn hit a 3-pointer with 1:56 remaining to pull the Broncs within 75-71 but they could never get the game down to a single possession.

Siena (8-8, 3-3) hit eight of its final 12 free throws to keep Rider (6-12, 3-3) from getting any closer.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Broncs try to keep winning as road trip continues at Siena

Who: Rider (6-11, 3-2) at Siena (7-8, 2-3)

When: Thursday, Times Union Center, 7 p.m., ESPN3.com, 107.7FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider def. St. Peter’s, 72-58. Siena def. Niagara, 72-60.

Background: The Broncs have won five of their last six, including three in a row in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play but the schedule gets a lot tougher starting Thursday night against Siena.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

MAAC Monday (Jan. 9)

-- Happy Monday! Time to go around the MAAC again from the week that was and what to expect this upcoming week.

Canisius (3-12, 0-5): Last week -- lost to St. Peter's 65-61; lost to Loyola 77-62. This week -- Jan. 13 vs. Marist; Jan. 15 vs. St. Peter's. OUTLOOK: Another winless week for the Griffs has them dead last in the conference. Gabby Belardo being slowed by a back injury hasn't helped although he played 35 minutes in the loss to Loyola. Harold Washington is having a great year scoring the ball with his 18.2 points per game ranking third in the league. If Tom Parrotta's squad is going to string some wins together this week seems like its best chance with Marist and SPC coming to Buffalo.
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jones saddened by Monsignor Bonner's closure


JERSEY CITY – Jeff Jones remembers his time at Monsignor Bonner High School in suburban Philadelphia well.

He remembers scoring 1,923 points over his career. He remembers becoming the all-time leading scorer in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Now he knows that his scoring record at Monsignor Bonner will never be broken.

The school, along with its sister institution, Archbishop Prendergast will shut down at the end of the academic year. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the closing of 45 elementary schools and four high schools Friday as part of sweeping budget cuts. Conwell-Egan Catholic will also shut down at the end of the year.
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Three in a row: Rider finding form at right time

JERSEY CITY – For the first time this season, the Rider men’s basketball team is on a winning streak.

The Broncs won their third in a row, all three in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, 72-58, Sunday afternoon over St. Peter’s at the Yanitelli Center.

Rider has now won five of its last six, improving to 6-11 overall and 3-2 in the conference.

Brandon Penn continued his impressive play with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Anthony Myles and Jeff Jones combined for 30 points off the bench to spark the Bronc attack in the second half.

“It’s never easy up here,” said coach Tommy Dempsey. “You always have to grind it out against them. When the game got tight, we had great composure.”
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rider gets revenge on Marist

LAWRENCEVILLE — The last time the Rider men’s basketball team faced Marist it was left with a sour taste in its mouth.

Friday night was payback for that 20-point loss back in early December.

Brandon Penn had 24 points and Novar Gadson 19 as the Broncs ran rampant in a 99-86 victory over the Red Foxes that wasn’t as close the final score indicated.

“We couldn’t let them come here and sweep us,” Penn said. “We had to try and get them back.”



Get them back they did.

Rider led by as many as 28 during a 14-7 opening to the second half sparked by a trio of Penn 3-pointers. The Broncs held a 59-33 with advantage after Penn’s sixth 3-pointer of the night fell through the hoop with just over 16 minutes remaining.
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Gameday: Marist (7-7, 2-1) at Rider (4-11, 1-2)

Who: Marist (7-7, 2-1) at Rider (4-11, 1-2)

When: Friday, Alumni Gymnasium, 7 p.m., 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider def. Manhattan, 88-77. Marist def. St. Peter’s, 71-67.

Background
: When these teams met on Dec 4, Marist put a 20-point beatdown on Rider.

The Red Foxes shot 13 of 20 from behind the arc, connecting on their first eight 3-point attempts while the Broncs missed their first 13 and finished 1 of 14 from 3.

“Embarrassment is being too kind,” said senior forward Novar Gadson. “They left a sour taste in our mouth.”

Coach Tommy Dempsey called the loss, in which his team gave up 95 points, the low-water mark of the season.

“That weekend — Manhattan and Marist — was a real punch in the face,” Dempsey said. “To that point it was like we’ve been banged up, we had some suspensions, we had a guy ineligible, we had Novar’s injury, we played a tough schedule. You have all your excuses lined up and we thought we would come out and win two games in that MAAC weekend and we got pounded twice.”

That prompted Dempsey to make changes to his lineup and defensive philosophy. The Broncs have started using a three-quarter/half-court trap to show pressure and “get the guys excited about defense” as Dempsey puts it.

Rider’s slowly but surely played better. It competed against Florida and lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Princeton before reeling off three of its last four.
The Broncs are in the midst of playing eight of nine away from Alumni Gym with Friday’s game as the lone home fixture.

“When you’re 1-10 and staring at eight of the next nine on the road, as a coach you just want to burst out in tears,” Dempsey said.

But Rider is coming off its best performance of the season, led by Gadson’s 21 points in the win over Manhattan. The Broncs built a 22-point first half lead, then held on for an 11-point victory.

Marist has already surpassed its win total (six) from a year ago and is getting a strong season from junior guard Devin Price (13.5 ppg).

The Red Foxes rallied from 13 down against St. Peter’s behind 14 points each from Anell Alexis and Chavaughn Lewis.

Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Eddie Mitchell (Fr., 4.6 ppg), G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7.5 ppg), F-Novar Gadson (Sr., 8.6 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 11 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (So., 13.5 ppg).

Marist: G-Devin Price (Jr., 13.5 ppg), G-Isaiah Morton (Fr., 8.9 ppg), G-Jay Bowie (So., 5.7 ppg), F-Anell Alexis (So., 5.5 ppg), Adam Kemp (So., 8.4 ppg).

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Novar Gadson still trying to find himself

LAWRENCEVILLE — His senior season wasn’t supposed to be playing out like this. Not when there was so much expected from him. Not when this was going to be the year he was the guy for the Rider men’s basketball team.

He doesn’t want to have to spend extra time in the training room getting treatment for his surgically repaired left knee. Or staying late to do rubber band exercises with team managers long after everyone else has gone home.

It is halfway through the season and Novar Gadson is still trying to find himself.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rider trying to build on recent run of form

When Tommy Dempsey looked at the Rider men’s basketball team’s schedule and saw a 1-10 record and eight of the next nine games on the road he was ready to burst into tears.

Four games into this crucial stretch, the Broncs have gone 3-1 and are coming off their best performance of the season, beating Manhattan 88-77 for their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win.

“All you can do is keep pressing forward,” Dempsey said during Tuesday’s league conference call. “Just because we played well (Monday) night doesn’t mean we’re a great team by any stretch, but I do think we’re improving.”

Rider, already behind the eight-ball following a pair of conference losses in December, avoided a season sweep against the Jaspers, who had won 71-55 in Lawrenceville on Dec. 2.

Dempsey was asked if he felt his team’s improvement was the result of players metaphorically having their backs against the wall.

“I don't think it's as simple as that,” was his answer.

Instead, he credited the character of his players for not pointing fingers when the team was off to its worst start in 68 years.

“When you go through a stretch like we have things can get really ugly if you don’t have the right people in your locker room,” Dempsey said. “One of things that has helped us before is that we’ve won before. Guys realize we’ve won before and we can win again. It’s just a matter of doing a couple of things better and more consistently.”

The Broncs were rewarded against Manhattan.

“We’ve hung together,” said Dempsey, whose team shot 58 percent from the floor and 54 percent from behind the arc in the win over the Jaspers. “(Monday) night was our best performance to date and it had been coming. I think we were due one of those. We went up there and had a very good performance.”

Rider gets its lone home game in this nine-game run Friday night against Marist. The Red Foxes are coming off a win over Saint Peter’s and are 7-7 overall and 2-1 in the MAAC.

They already hold a 95-75 victory over the Broncs.

“Winning makes you feel good,” said Marist coach Chuck Martin, whose team has already surpassed its six wins from a season ago. “Our kids are feeling really good about where we’re at. We’re taking baby steps but we’re starting to get there slowly-but-surely.”

Martin said he expects a different Rider team than the one that got blown out in Poughkeepsie in early December.

“They’re playing much better basketball,” Martin said. “You can tell on tape that they are a much more confident group. It was just a matter of time. Tommy’s a good coach, he’s been in this league for a long time and you knew at some point he would get his guys going.”

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year for Rider; Broncs get first MAAC win by knocking off Manhattan

RIVERDALE, N.Y. — This was the version of the Rider men’s basketball team everybody expected to see.

The Broncs waited until the New Year, but finally came to life with an 88-77 victory over Manhattan Monday night at Draddy Gymnasium.

Novar Gadson scored a season-high 21 points and Rider (4-11, 1-2) built a 22-point first half lead.
The Broncs shot 58 percent (29 for 50) for the game and connected on 12 of their 22 attempts from behind the arc.

Danny Stewart added 15 points and Brandon Penn chipped in 12. Penn also hauled in 11 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double.

Gadson, who has been fighting sore knees all season, returned to the starting lineup and repaid coach Tommy Dempsey with his best performance to date.

The senior got his 21 points on 6 of 9 shooting and hit on both of his 3-point attempts. He also got to the free throw line seven times, making all seven shots.

Manhattan (9-6, 2-1) got 19 points from Kidani Brutus and 13 from George Beamon.

The Jaspers, who have already eclipsed their six wins from a year ago, were one of the surprise teams in the MAAC after winning their opening two league games, including a 71-55 triumph over Rider in Lawrenceville. But they struggled early Monday night and even after Brutus scored nine points during a 20-7 run to cut the Bronc lead to 80-71 with 4:06 left there wasn’t enough time to get any closer.

Rider will again look to avoid a season sweep when it hosts Marist Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Red Foxes improved to 7-7 and 2-1 in the MAAC after beating Saint Peter’s (2-12, 1-2) 71-67 Monday night. Niagara (6-9, 1-2) also upset Loyola (9-4, 2-1), 66-61 in the night’s other game.

MAAC Monday (Jan. 2)

-- Happy New Year! Time to take a look at the week that was in the MAAC and look ahead to the upcoming week (including games tonight):

Tonight's games:

Rider (3-11, 0-2) at Manhattan (9-5, 2-0): What a great opportunity for the Jaspers to start 3-0 in league play. They already own a win over Rider and host Tommy Dempsey's struggling club at 7 p.m. Steve Masiello's done an outstanding job, already winning nine games with a team that was victorious just six times a year ago. George Beamon (16.6 ppg) is having a terrific season.

Saint Peter's (2-11, 1-1) at Marist (6-7, 1-1): Chuck Martin's Red Foxes are another having more success this season than they did all of last. Their six wins match the total they had all of last year. On the other side, John Dunne's Peacocks were always going to struggle after losing four starters from the team that stormed to the MAAC tournament championship. SPC averages 58.4 points per game, a number that ranks it 328th in the country.

Niagara (5-9, 0-2) at Loyola (9-3, 2-0): Great bounce-back win by the Greyhounds at Bucknell after falling at Kentucky. Jimmy Pastos' next step: get his team to challenge Iona and Fairfield for the top spot in the MAAC. Loyola has great balance offensively -- four players scored in double figures against the Bison, led by 18 from the freakishly-athletic Erik Etherly. For the Purple Eagles, Juan'ya Green has all but locked up the league's Rookie of the Year. He scored 32 points (26 in the second half) as NU nearly rallied to knock off St. Bonaventure in its last game and leads the conference in scoring at 20.1 ppg.

-- Looking back at the week that was:

Canisius (3-10, 0-3): Last week -- def. Binghamton, 75-66; lost to Fairfield, 72-54. This week -- Jan. 5 at Saint Peter's; Jan. 7 at Loyola. OUTLOOK: More woe from the Griffs who shot 29.5 percent in the 18-point loss to Fairfield. Canisius' challenge this year will be to battle Rider, Saint Peter's, Niagara, Marist and Siena to finish outside the bottom four and grab a first round bye in the MAAC tournament.

Fairfield (8-6, 3-0): Last week -- lost to Drexel, 77-69; def. Canisius, 72-54. This week -- Jan. 6 at Siena; Jan. 8 at Manhattan. OUTLOOK: Sydney Johnson's Stags may have been disappointing in the non-conference but a 3-0 start to league play will still have them thinking they can repeat as regular-season champs. Boston College transfer Rakim Sanders is living up to the hype, averaging 16.1 ppg.

Iona (10-3, 2-0): Last week -- lost to Hofstra, 83-75. This week -- Jan. 3 vs. Siena; Jan. 6 vs. Niagara; Jan. 8 at Marist. OUTLOOK: The Gaels continue to be the class of the league despite their loss to Hofstra. They start the conference long haul Tuesday against Siena. Iona is fifth in the nation in scoring at 85.1 points per game and the 75 against Hofstra was only the second time this season they haven't his the 80-point mark.

Loyola (9-3, 2-0): Last week -- def. Bucknell, 72-67; This week -- Tonight vs. Niagara; Jan. 5 vs. Manhattan; Jan. 7 vs. Canisius. OUTLOOK: Three in a row at home at row could get the Greyhounds to 5-0 in league play.

Manhattan (9-5, 2-0): Last week -- def. Binghamton, 94-51. This week -- Tonight vs. Rider; Jan. 5 at Loyola; Jan. 8 vs. Fairfield. OUTLOOK: See above.

Marist (6-7, 1-1): Last week -- def. Columbia, 79-59. This week -- Tonight vs. Saint Peter's; Jan. 6 at Rider; Jan. 8 vs. Iona. OUTLOOK: See above.

Niagara (5-9, 0-2): Last week -- def. UMBC, 92-75; lost to St. Bonaventure, 72-70. This week -- Tonight at Loyola; Jan. 6 at Iona; Ja. 8 at Siena. OUTLOOK: Just give Juan'ya Green Freshman of the Year already.

Rider (3-11, 0-2): Last week -- lost to Stony Brook, 79-62; This week -- Tonight at Manhattan; Jan. 6 vs. Marist; Jan. 8 at Saint Peter's. OUTLOOK: Tommy Dempsey's team is desperate to avoid a season sweep against Manhattan. Dempsey still believes there is a gap between the top three (Iona, Fairfield, Loyola) and the rest of the league leaving spots 4 through 10 up for grabs. Rider will want to avoid finishing in the bottom four.

Siena (5-7, 1-1): Last week -- def. Florida Atlantic, 67-60; This week: -- Jan 3. vs. Iona; Jan. 6 vs. Fairfield; Jan 8 vs. Niagara. OUTLOOK: The Saints have rebounded nicely from a stretch in which they lost seven of eight to win two straight. They'll find out a lot about themselves when they face Iona tomorrow and then Fairfield in their first two MAAC games of 2012.

Saint Peter's (2-11, 0-2): Last week -- lost to Lehigh, 76-67. This week -- Tonight at Marist; Jan. 5 vs. Canisius; Jan. 8 vs. Rider: OUTLOOK: See above.

GAME BALLS

Juan'ya Green (Niagara) scored 32 points, 26 in the second half, to nearly lead the Purple Eagles to a comeback victory against St. Bonaventure. Green was 10 of 17 from the field, 2 of 5 from behind the arc and 10 of 15 from the foul line. He leads the MAAC in scoring at 20.1 points per game and surely is a look for Freshman of the Year.

Erik Etherly (Loyola) scored 18 points to help the Greyhounds bounce back from their loss at No. 1 Kentucky with an impressive win at Bucknell.

AIR BALLS 

It's hard to say anything negative about the play of Scott Machado (Iona) but the First Team All-MAAC point guard had just five points in the loss to Hofstra. He did dish out 10 assists but had a very un-Machado like six turnovers.

Tom Parrotta (Canisius) has to get more out of his Griffs. 3-10 isn't good enough for a coach that really needed a good season.

Rider's first half at Stony Brook. The Broncs had won two in a row coming in but made it impossible for themselves to make it three by scoring 19 first half points and falling behind by as many as 20 in those opening 20 minutes. By the time Rider rallied to get within eight, it didn't have anything left to get any closer.


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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Look ahead to Rider's game against Manhattan


Who: Rider (3-11, 0-2) at Manhattan (9-5, 2-0)

When: Monday, Draddy Gymnasium, 7 p.m., 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last time out: Rider lost to Stony Brook, 79-62. Manhattan def. Binghamton, 94-51.

Background: Two rounds of MAAC games are in the book and the long haul starts Monday. In tune with the rest of their season, the Broncs are behind the proverbial 8-ball after dropping both games.

Manhattan (71-55 winners in Lawrenceville) can complete the season sweep Monday night and heap more misery on Tommy Dempsey’s scuffling club.

“We have a huge game,” Dempsey said. “They would be 3-0 in the MAAC and we would be 0-3 so they can kind of put us in the rearview mirror right off the bat.”

To salvage anything from this season, Rider is going to have to make some noise in conference play. Dempsey still thinks there is a gap between Iona, Fairfield, Loyola and everybody else.

So he's preaching, "don't get swept" to his players.

“If you sweep a team early, it really gives you a leg up,” Dempsey said. “We feel it’s important that we get that game back because we didn’t feel like we played real well the first time.”

Avoiding the sweep won’t be easy. First-year coach Steve Masiello is doing yeoman’s work in Riverdale. The Jaspers, who won six games a year ago, are easily the most improved team in the league with nine wins already to their credit.

They’ve won six of their last seven thanks largely to the play of George Beamon. The junior guard is averaging an outstanding 16.6 points per game, scoring in double figures in 13 of the team’s 14 games (he didn’t play against Columbia).

Danny Stewart and Jeff Jones both average 13.4 points per game to lead the Broncs. Brandon Penn is coming off back-to-back double-doubles, averaging 18 points and 12.5 rebounds in those two contests.

“That first league game is really big for us,” Dempsey said. “I think everybody knows that.”

Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7.6 ppg), G-Eddie Mitchell (Fr., 4.4 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 10.9 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (So., 13.4 ppg), C-Dera Nd-Ezuma (Jr., 2.4 ppg)
Manhattan: G-Michale Alvarado (So., 8.3 ppg), G-George Beamon (Jr., 16.6 ppg), G-Mohamed Koita (Jr., 2.5 ppg), F-Emmy Andujar (Fr., 8.3 ppg), F-Roberto Colonette (Sr., 6.9 ppg).

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