Morning Run — Game 14: Delaware 73, Rider 66
Now, on to those Broncs: The next time Rider takes the court it will be almost a month since it last won. If the Broncs are going to snap this four-game losing streak, they need to better in close games. Similar to the loss at Rutgers, they hung in Monday afternoon despite getting pounded on the glass (52-31 and 24 offensive rebounds for Delaware) giving themselves a chance to win, even grabbing the lead with six minutes left. That advantage turned out to be short-lived. "It's just frustration from some of the dumb stuff we do," said coach Kevin Baggett. "We foul on the perimeter after we just take the lead. It's the things we aren't doing to help us win games."
Rebound, rebound, rebound: Rider knew it would be tough sledding against Delaware, which featured Jamelle Hagins, the nation's second-leading rebounder, but Baggett didn't think the margin would be so wide. The Blue Hens attacked the offensive glass, grabbing 24 offensive rebounds, leading to 20 second-chance points.
"You're not going to win giving up 24 offensive rebounds, especially when the game is on the line," Baggett said.
Hagins had 14 points and 16 boards (seven offensive), while Josh Brinkley had 17 and eight.
Delaware didn't shoot it all that well, connecting on 38.2 percent from the field, including 3 of 14 from behind the arc. "What they were doing was throwing it up there and going and getting a second rebound," Baggett said.
Weight room: Baggett wasn't happy with the play of forwards Dera Nd-Ezuma and Junior Fortunat. The duo combined for seven points and seven rebounds. In crunch time, Baggett had four guards and Danny Stewart on the floor.
"I need those guys to play better," Baggett said.
Fortunat began the year as the starter, but Nd-Ezuma has got the nod in the last six. While the coach thought Nd-Ezuma played well against Rutgers, he hasn't got any consistency from Fortunat, a player he had high expectations for this season.
Baggett said — perhaps unrealistically — that he thought Fortunat needed to average a double-double. Obviously, that hasn't happened. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging four points and 3.5 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game.
"I'm trying to find Junior right now," Baggett said. "I need Junior to get in there and help me a little more. He did some good things in the first half, but those guys aren't rebounding, and that's what's hurting them."
A good omen: December wasn't kind to Nurideen Lindsey, but he looked like he may be snapping out of his funk.
His 13 points snapped a stretch of three straight games of failing to reach double-figures. He made four of his first five shots and had eight of Rider's first 20 points.
"I've been struggling this month," Lindsey said. "But it's a long season. I'll continue to get better."
Although he made one basket the rest of the way — finishing 5 for 14 — he got some open looks. He's benefited from moving off the ball and letting Jon Thompson handle the point guard load. He even had three assists to just two turnovers Monday.
If he can knock down some jumpers, the lane will open up for him like it did in the first handful of games.
On tap: A trip to MAAC favorite Loyola. Only Canisius has a pair of wins so everybody — except lowly Siena — is 1-1 in the league. All the coaches talk about preparing for the conference season because that is where the bread is buttered in a mid-major league. If Rider can upset the Greyhounds on the road, December's downer will be forgotten.
"We're a little gun-shy right now, having lost the last four," Baggett said. "Once we get that one off our back, we'll find our way from there."
Charleston 85, Marist 75: Weren't there some positive vibes around the 4-9 Red Foxes at the start of the year?