Morning Run — Game 27: Rider 72, St. Peter's 57
|Zedric Sadler had a career-high 16 points/Photo by GREGG SLABODA|
Quick reaction: Job done. Rider (14-13, 9-6) turned on the jets in the second half for a comfortable victory. Even though St. Peter's was bottom of the league and winless on the road in conference games, coach Kevin Baggett expected a battle. For 20 minutes the Broncs got one — they trailed by eight with 2:36 left in the first half before an 8-0 run to close the period evened the score. Anthony Myles (17 points) continued his strong season and Zedric Sadler had a career-high 16 points. Rider has one conference home game remaining — Sunday against Marist — before the western New York trip to end league play.
Three thoughts: 1. Zedric Sadler is going to be a good player for this program. Sadler was a high-major recruit out of high school in Detroit — Kansas State stored him away at South Kent Prep for a season with the idea of coming back and offering a scholarship but that fell through when Frank Martin left to take the vacant position at South Carolina. Sadler scored a career-best 16 points Thursday night. He attributed that to being more aggressive, something he felt like he got away from the last couple weeks. Sadler's game is a lot like Jon Thompson's in the way he's confident with the ball in his hands and can score when he needs to. Sadler's more polished than Thompson was at this point in their career and that's going to benefit Rider once Thompson graduates because Sadler is the point guard of the future.
2. Thursday was a must win and so is Sunday's game against Marist. Thompson put it best before the victory over St. Peter's, pointing out the Broncs were as close to first place as they were to seventh. With the conference slate ending in the western New York trip (at Niagara, at Canisius), Rider doesn't want to have to go there needing two wins to avoid the play-in round at the MAAC tournament. The Broncs are tied with Canisius in fourth, 1 1/2 games behind first-place Niagara (the Purple Eagles are at Marist Friday night) but only 1 1/2 games ahead of seventh-place Manhattan (the Jaspers host third-place Iona Friday night). Baggett certainly isn't looking past the Red Foxes, despite their 4-10 conference mark. Marist has won two straight — over Iona and Loyola — and center Adam Kemp averaged 16 points and 14.5 rebounds per game in those two contests. "If we want to get to the top, we have to separate ourselves," Baggett said. "We have a big game against Marist, which is playing really well. They are playing with some confidence. That's a game that is a concern and if we don't start the game the right way, and play for 40 minutes, anything can happen."
3. John Dunne has his work cut out for him. Everyone knew it was going to be difficult for Dunne after he lost his four best players from the 2010-11 team that made that incredible run through the MAAC tournament, but he's in the midst of a second straight frustrating season. The Peacocks are winless (0-7) on the road in the conference and likely headed for a last-place finish. Dunne improved St. Peter's win total in each of his first five seasons, but hasn't been able to sustain the momentum of that NCAA tourney appearance. Don't give up on Dunne, he's a good coach, and these things are cyclical so let's see how the Peacocks look a year from now.