But a four-game winning streak — all in the MAAC — have Rider off
to a 5-2 start, its best its league play since opening the 2007-08
Iona and Niagara are tied atop the conference at 6-1, while Rider and Loyola are one game back at 5-2.
It has been a while since the Broncs have hosted a game of this magnitude.
“If you’re a competitor, you have to be excited for it,” said coach
Kevin Baggett. “I’m excited for out guys to have a chance to play the
first-place team. If you’re going to be the best, you have to beat the
best. At this point, I think Iona is the best team.”
The Gaels lost all-league players Scott Machado and Mike Glover to
graduation, but perhaps surprisingly, there hasn’t been a drop off.
They’re 82.6 points per game are almost eight more than the next
closest in the conference. A year ago, they averaged 82.9 ppg.
Lamont Jones (22.3 ppg) and Sean Armand (19.2) are first and second
in the MAAC in scoring, respectively. Jones ranks fifth nationally,
while Armand is shooting 3s at a 44.1 percent clip (71 for 161).
So how do you slow Iona down?
“You can’t stop them first and
foremost,” Baggett said. “I don’t want to get into a track match. That’s
what a lot of teams have tried to do and they didn’t come up
successful. We’re going to need to slow it down and take our shots when
we have them. … This is not going to be a track meet.”
Rider could be without guard Nurideen Lindsey after he suffered a
concussion earlier this week. He missed Thursday’s win over St. Peter’s.
Tommy Pereira stepped in for him and scored a career-high 17 points.
Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Jon Thompson (Sr. 11.1 ppg),
G-Anthony Myles (Jr. 12.5 ppg), G-Tommy Pereira (Jr. 4.1 ppg), F-Danny
Stewart (Jr. 11.2 ppg), C-Dera Nd-Ezuma (Sr. 2.4 ppg)
Iona: G-Lamont Jones (Sr. 22.3 ppg), G-Sean Armand (Jr. 19.2 ppg),
G-Tre Bowman (Jr. 8.6 ppg), G-Tavon Sledge (So. 6.4 ppg), F-David Laury
(So. 15 ppg).