Game 23: Rider (11-11, 6-4) at Fairfield (12-10, 4-6)
|Coach Kevin Baggett is hoping his team bounces back from a pair of loses/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE|
Who: Rider (11-11, 6-4) at Fairfield (12-10, 4-6).
When: Friday, 7 p.m., Webster Bank Arena, 107.7 FM The Bronc.
Last time out: Rider lost to Manhattan, 62-51; Fairfield def. St. Peter’s, 64-51.
Previous meet: Fairfield won 65-52.
Background: Kevin Baggett said don’t expect any major changes despite a two-game losing streak that has taken the Broncs from Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contender to middle of the pack.
This two-game skid was preceded by a five-game win streak so Baggett is still comfortable with where his team sits in the league table. Rider is tied for fourth with Canisius at 6-4.
“We lost two games and the world didn’t end,” said the first-year coach, also calling his team inconsistent, pointing out it is 5-5 at home and 6-6 on the road. “Our guys understand that we let two get away from us at home, but we’ll regroup, go on the road and try and win both of these games.”
The key point this week at practice, Baggett said, was to stay out of long losing streaks.
The Broncs already endured a five-game slide in December.
“If we’re going to be good, we have to get out of these losing streaks,” Baggett said. “We can’t stay in those droughts that we’ve been in.”
In the first meeting against the Stags, the Broncs committed a season-high 30 turnovers in a 13-point loss.
In its two defeats this past weekend, Rider actually took care of the ball, averaging just 11 turnovers per game, four below its season average.
“There were a lot of mental lapses then,” Baggett said. “I think we’re better for it, and we’ve watched the film over and over again on it, so we’ll be mentally and physically ready to go down there and compete.”
The luck of the draw wasn’t on Fairfield’s side when the schedule makers pitted them against Niagara, Canisius and Loyola twice in the first 10 games. The only teams with winning conference records left on its schedule are Rider and Iona.
The Stags have won two straight.
They’re into the soft part of the schedule now, and that makes Sydney Johnson’s club a dangerous squad.
“They defend, they get after it,” Baggett said. “They might not be the biggest team, but they have a lot of fight in them.”
Rider likely won’t have 6-foot-9 forward Junior Fortunat. As of Wednesday, he still hadn’t passed a concussion test and Baggett described his status as “wait and see.”
The coach also said Danny Stewart got nicked up and was having treatment on his knee. He expects Stewart to be ready to go Friday.
“Danny’s tough,” Baggett said.
Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Jon Thompson (Sr. 11 ppg), G-Anthony Myles (Jr. 12.1 ppg), G-Tommy Pereira (Jr. 4.8 ppg), F-Danny Stewart (Jr. 10.7 ppg), C-Dera Nd-Ezuma (Sr. 2.2 ppg).
Fairfield: G-Derek Needham (Sr. 14.4 ppg), G-Desmond Wade (Sr. 7.3 ppg), F-Marcus Gilbert (Fr. 5.5 ppg), F-Amadou Sidibe (Fr. 6.5 ppg), F-Josip Mikulic (Fr. 5.6 ppg).