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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.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rider falls to Fairfield in MAAC quarterfinal

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – If Rider’s season could be rolled up and packed neatly into one 40-minute ball then Saturday’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinal was it.

The Broncs scuffled, got hit in the face, bounced back, got hit again, came back one more time, but ultimately, never got over the hump, falling, 65-63 to Fairfield here at MassMutual Center.

“We fought right until the end,” said Rider coach Tommy Dempsey, whose team failed to reach the semifinal for the first time in four years. “They probably thought they had us buried three different times, but we were resilient and gave ourselves a chance right to the buzzer. I was proud of our effort.”

When the Broncs were buried, it was only after a frantic finish.

Up by three, Fairfield fouled Jon Thompson with 0.4 seconds left. Thompson hit the first before missing the second intentionally and Junior Fortunat’s tip came up short.
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Team-by-team guide to MAAC tournament

Iona (24-6, 15-3): Loaded with high-major talent the Gaels are the favorite to take home the tournament title to go with their regular-season championship. They still have a chance to reach the NCAA tournament should they falter this weekend, but their best bet is sill to claim the auto bid. Scott Machado, arguably the best point guard in the nation, is the engine that makes this offensive juggernaut (83.4 ppg leads the country) run. Mike Glover (18.1 ppg) and Lamont Jones (16.2 ppg) are also top tier talents.

Loyola (21-8, 13-5): The Greyhounds have their first 20-win season as a Division I program and with First Team All-League selection Erik Etherly (13.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) leading the way are a dangerous team. Jimmy Patsos does a great job of getting his team to play hard for 40 minutes but the coach is also no stranger to the ill-advised technical foul.
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Iona searching for tourney title, NCAA bid

Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos didn’t even need to be prompted during this week’s conference call to promote Iona for an NCAA tournament at-large berth should the Gaels stumble this weekend in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.

“I’ve been in this game for a while,” Patsos began, citing his time as an assistant at Maryland under Gary Williams, “and I’ve seen a lot of college basketball. With the schedule they’ve played and the players they have, they should be in the NCAA tournament regardless.”

Patsos, always outspoken, of course, is not on the NCAA tournament selection committee.

And while Iona does have a legitimate at-large claim – a 5-3 record against the RPI top-100 with 14 road/neutral site wins – its best bet is still to claim the automatic berth awarded to the conference tournament champion.
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Rider heads to MAAC tourney with nothing to lose

LAWRENCEVILLE – As far as Tommy Dempsey is concerned, Rider is playing with house money this weekend at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

There isn’t much pressure on his fifth-seeded Broncs to challenge for the title and the league’s automatic NCAA bid.

“The last several years we’ve gone (to the conference tourney) and there has been pressure because we really went up there with the expectation that we were going to win,” Dempsey said. “It’s not that we don’t expect to win, it’s more that nobody else expects us to win.”

That might just suit this team best.

Despite a 13-18 overall record, Rider has won two straight — one coming against Saturday’s quarterfinal opponent Fairfield — and is playing its best basketball of the season.

“We’re probably a little bit better right now that we’ve been most of the year,” Dempsey said. “I think it’s a good position for us to be in.”
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Jon Thompson proving to be key figure for Broncs

LAWRENCEVILLE — The first thing Jon Thompson had to do, before he put up one jump-shot this season, was clean things up off the court.

An off-court violation he committed at the end of last season cost him the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and the first two games this year.

“It was hard,” Thompson said in regards to watching last year’s tournament from the bench. “The (team) spirit wasn’t there and for me to be responsible for most of that was really the most hurtful thing.”

Priority number-one was to fix that.
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