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Friday, October 25, 2013

Rider dealt Sadler injury blow; Taylor to start at point

LAWRENCEVILLE — Zedric Sadler prepared himself over the summer to be Rider’s starting point guard.

He went to work on his game, improving his left hand and pushing himself into the best physical condition possible.

Unfortunately, that work also took its toll on Sadler’s left knee and he will miss the start of the season as he recovers from a platelet-rich plasma injection to help alleviate patellar tendonitis.

“It’s frustrating because I want to be out there so bad,” Sadler said before Friday’s practice. “Watching practices everyday, I just want to be out there. I’m going to miss a couple games. Stuff like that … I’m just a player and want to play.”

The sophomore from Detroit was penciled in as coach Kevin Baggett’s starter at the point. He backed up the now-departed Jon Thompson last season, averaging 22.3 minutes per game in 32 appearances and showed flashes of a promising offensive game.

Sadler said he thinks the injury stems from jumping off his left leg to use his off-hand more than usual and that awkward combination caused the pain.

He tried to play through it but as the pain became more unbearable, Sadler sat down with Baggett and the training staff and decided to have the procedure done sooner rather than later.

“All summer, I’ve been preparing, getting ready for that, pushing myself, working on my game a lot, my left hand,” Sadler said. “Everything that it takes to be a starter at that position, I’ve been working on this summer, and it’s just disappointing I had this setback right now.”

Baggett said he expects Sadler to miss at least the first three games — Nov. 12 at Lehigh, Nov. 17 at Purdue and Nov. 23 at Central Connecticut State — while he works his way back into shape.
Sadler said he can start working on his rehab next week.

In his stead, Baggett will start freshman Jimmie Taylor at point guard. Taylor played point in high school at Suwannee (Fla.), averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game while earning Florida 5A All-State honors.

“I’m going to have to learn to slow everything down,” Taylor said. “The tempo is different, the intensity is different, but adjusting to it, I don’t think will be that difficult once the season starts.”

As expected, Baggett is prepared for the growing pains that come with a freshman point guard.

“He’s handling it, but until he gets thrown into the lions’ den, that’s when we’ll get to see just how good Jimmie is,” said the second-year coach, who is coming off a 19-15 debut season. “He’s going to go through some growing pains and make some mistakes, but he’ll be better for it in the end.”

Taylor, though, who is one of three freshmen from Florida on the roster, seems up for the challenge.

“Once the flow of the game gets started, I see how everything is breaking down,” Taylor said. “I get a feel for it and what I need to do. Do I need to score or get somebody else open? That will just come natural as just being a basketball player.”

There are three transfers on the roster — Teddy Okereafor (VCU), Matt Lopez (Utah St.) and Skylar Scrivano (Columbia) — that all have to sit out this season, per NCAA rules.

The school tried to get Lopez, a 7-foot center, a wavier to play immediately, but was unsuccessful.

That leaves Baggett with just one player — junior forward Junior Fortunat — over 6-foot-7.

“If we could have gotten Matt Lopez eligible, that would have really helped us,” Baggett said. “We’re still kind of trying to figure that out. You go with what you have. We don’t play a lot of guards anyway. I would rather go four guards around one anyway with the style we play.”

Sophomore forward Khalil Alford is also banged up. He broke his left hand and is expected to be in a cast for another week or two, Baggett said.


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