Blogs > The Full-Court Press

Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Saturday, November 30, 2013

RIDER GAMEDAY: Broncs go for Cable Car title

Who: Rider (2-3) vs. North Dakota State (3-3)

When: Saturday, 11 p.m., Leavey Center, 47th Annual Cable Car Classic, Santa Clara, Calif.

TV: None

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc

Last Time Out: Rider def. Rice 97-93 in OT; North Dakota State def. Santa Clara, 91-85.

Background: The Broncs can return home with some silverware if they can beat the Bison in the championship game of the Cable Car Classic.

Rider got here with a thrilling overtime win against Rice in which it survived a barrage of 3s — 18 in all — by the Owls. 

Anthony Myles scored a career high 27 points, becoming a 1,000-point scorer in the process. Danny Stewart finished with 19, including a basket at the end of regulation to tie the game and two clutch free throw in the final 10 seconds.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Rider to play in 2014 Old Spice Classic

Rider will be among an all-star cast when it competes in the 2014 Old Spice Classic in Orlando next season.

The Broncs were confirmed Friday as one of eight schools heading to central Florida over Thanksgiving.

Also participating: Michigan State, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Marquette, Tennessee, Xavier and Santa Clara.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PRINCETON POSTGAME: Tigers 71, George Mason 66

RIDER RUNBACK: Albany 70, Rider 59

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Some observations from Rider's 70-59 loss to Albany Tuesday night in its home opener.

1. Falling Flat: Nobody expected this. For the second time in four games the Broncs got off to an horrendous start, falling behind by 20 in the first half and never recovered. In the season opener at Lehigh, you could understand why that  happened, but in the home opener -- the only home game in the first seven -- that's inexcusable. Rider's 16 points in the first 20 minutes was reminiscent of the Fairfield debacle (14 first-half points) in the MAAC tournament last year.

Even when Albany didn't score over the final 6:33 of the first half, the Broncs managed just four points of their own. They trailed by 16 at intermission (that deficit grew to 23 early in the second half) and although they made run that cut the Great Dane's lead to eight, they were never going to get all the way back.

"We struggled to score. We missed a lot of layups," coach Kevin Baggett said. "You have to come out and play with a sense of urgency. If you don't do that, you are going to dig yourself down in a deep hole like we did."
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Who: Princeton Tigers (3-1, 0-0 Ivy) vs. George Mason Patriots (4-1, 0-0 A10)

When/Where: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jadwin Gymnasium.

Coverage: 103.3 WPRB, Ivy League Digital Network

Coaches: Princeton – Mitch Henderson (third season, 40-24). George Mason – Paul Hewitt (third season, 49-24)

Last game: Princeton beat Rice 70-56 in Houston, George Mason lost at Iona 89-73.

Probable Starters
Princeton: C Hans Brase (6-8, sophomore, 11.5 PPG, 8 RPG, 2.5 APG). F Will Barrett (6-10, senior, 11.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG), F Spencer Weisz (6-4, freshman, 9 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.3 APG). G Ben Hazel (6-5, junior, 9.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG). G Jimmy Sherburne (6-4, senior, 7 PPG, 2 RPG, 3.8 APG).
George Mason: F Johnny Williams (6-8, senior, 5.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG). F Marko Gujanicic (6-8, sophomore, 12.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.8 APG). G Sherrod Wight (6-4, senior, 15 PPG, 4.4 RPG). G Corey Edwards (5-11, junior, 4 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.8 APG). G Byron Allen (6-3, senior, 12.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.3 APG).

Background: After a somewhat sluggish performance last Wednesday against Lafayette, the Tigers didn’t have much trouble dispatching an overmatched Rice team that figures to be one of the worst teams in Conference-USA. They will get a tough challenge from the Patriots, who are projected to be near the middle of a fairly strong A10. Marko Gujanicic has been a solid presence in the post for George Mason, while the senior duo of Sherrod Wright and Byron Allen will be a difficult test defensively for the Princeton backcourt.

Deep thoughts: Princeton is getting 44.2 percent of its offense this season from behind the three-point line, which is the fifth highest number in Division I (collectively, the Tigers have hit 42 of their 108 attempts from deep). George Mason, however, has been good defending the three-point line, with their opponents hitting just 27.8 percent from behind the line. Princeton’s perimeter size has generally — particularly in Will Barrett’s case — helped with getting clean looks at the basket.

Bray is back: Senior captain T.J. Bray returned to action a bit early than expected Saturday, playing 21 minutes off the bench in the Tigers’ comfortable win against Rice. While he didn’t get the starting nod, it didn’t look like he missed much of a beat after sitting out the first three games of the season with a wrist injury, scoring eight points and handing out four assists. Both Jimmy Sherburne and Ben Hazel have been solid in the backcourt so far, so it will be interesting to see who gets sent to the pine once Bray is fully reintegrated into the lineup.

Monday, November 25, 2013

RIDER GAMEDAY: Broncs open home slate against Albany

Who: Albany (2-3) at Rider (1-2).

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m., Alumni Gymnasium.

TV: None.

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last Time Out: Rider def. Central Connecticut State, 89-73; Albany lost to Bucknell, 77-64.

Coaches: Rider — Kevin Baggett, 2nd season (20-17); Albany — Will Brown, 13th season (174-193).

Background: The Broncs open their home slate Tuesday against the defending America East tournament champion Great Danes.

This is the return game from a BracketBuster two seasons ago that sent Rider to New York’s capital city. That contest was also the only meeting between the two school, which Albany won, 70-61.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

RIDER GAMEDAY: Broncs in need of victory against winless CCSU

Who: Rider (0-2) at Central Connecticut State (0-3).

When: Saturday, 6 p.m., Dietrick Gymnasium.

TV: NEC Front Row.

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last Time Out: Rider lost to Purdue, 81-77; CCSU lost to Northeastern, 83-69.

Coaches: Rider — Kevin Baggett, 2nd season (19-17); Howie Dickenman, 18th season (262-244).

Background: Kevin Baggett stopped short of calling Saturday night’s game a must win, but he definitely knows he has a team in need of a victory.

Following a 0-2 start and facing six of its first seven games away from Alumni Gymnasium, Rider aims for its first victory against when it travels to winless Central Connecticut State for a non-conference game.

“This is a desperate one for us,” Baggett said following Friday’s practice. “We’re desperate. So are they. I told our guys we need to get this win. I don’t wan to call it a must, but we need it. We need to get our season turned around. We need to get a ‘W’ and get back home and start trying to take care of home court. … We’re 0-2 and if we’re going to have a good year, we can’t go on these long losing streaks.”
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Friday, November 22, 2013


Who: Princeton Tigers (2-1, 0-0 Ivy) at Rice Owls (2-2, 0-0 C-USA)

When/Where: 3 p.m. EST, Tudor Fieldhouse, Houston, Texas.

Coverage: ($)

Coaches: Princeton – Mitch Henderson (third season, 39-24). Rice – Ben Braun (sixth season, 21-63 at Rice).

Probable Starters
Princeton: F Spencer Weisz (6-4, freshman, 9.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3 APG), F Will Barrett (6-10, senior, 14 PPG, 2.3 RPG), C Hans Brase (6-8, sophomore, 10.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 3 APG), G Ben Hazel (6-5, junior, 9.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG), Jimmy Sherburne (6-3, senior, 8 PPG, 2 RPG, 3.3 APG)
 Rice: F Seth Gearhart (6-7, junior, 6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1 APG), F Sean Obi (6-9, freshman, 10.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.3 APG), G Marcus Jackson (6-3, freshman, 11 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.8 APG), G Austin Ramljak (6-3, senior, 11.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG), G Max Guercy (5-9, sophomore, 13.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.5 APG)

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

PRINCETON POSTGAME: Tigers 81, Lafayette 80

Here is what the Tigers had to say about their close win over the Leopards Wednesday:

Rider's Lopez looking for resolution to eligibility saga

Rider's Matt Lopez has been denied a waiver twice by the NCAA.


Matt Lopez just wants to play.

The NCAA won’t let that happen.

Lopez, a 7-foot center at Rider, transferred from Utah State in the summer to be closer to his ailing grandfather, but the NCAA denied his initial request for a waiver and then turned down an appeal last month.

“I came home to be with (grandparents) and not be on the other side of the country these last couple years,” Lopez said in a phone interview. “The NCAA won’t recognize them as my immediate family. I lost my mom when I was younger and I don’t have any relationship with my father.”

Rider associate director for athletics and compliance Greg Busch had a clarification call last week with the NCAA.

Busch said the key issue is the NCAA doesn’t recognize Lopez’s grandparents, Robert and Jane Rafa, as immediate family although he’s lived with them for a number of years.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Who: Princeton Tigers (1-1, 0-0 Ivy) vs. Lafayette Leopards (0-2, 0-0 Patriot)

When/Where: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jadwin Gymnasium.

Coverage: 103.3 WPRB, Ivy League Digital Network

Coaches: Princeton – Mitch Henderson (third season, 38-24 overall). Lafayette – Fran O’Hanlon (19th season, 258-277 overall).

Probable Starters
Princeton: C Hans Brase, 6-8, sophomore, 10 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3 APG. F Spencer Weisz, 6-4, freshman, 7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.5 APG. F Will Barrett, 6-10, senior, 10 PPG, 2 RPG 0.5 APG. G Jimmy Sherburne, 6-3, junior, 10 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3 APG. G Ben Hazel, 6-5, junior, 7 PPG, 6 RPG.
Lafayette: F Alan Flannigan, 6-6, junior, 1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.5 APG. F Dan Trist, 6-9, junior, 12.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2 APG. G Seth Hinrichs, 6-7, junior, 15.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.0 APG. G Bryce Scott, 6-3, sophomore, 18 PPG, 4 RPG, 1 APG. G Nick Lindner, 5-10, freshman, 6 PPG, 3 RPG, 5 APG.

Key Reserves
Princeton: F Denton Koon, 6-8, junior, 19 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.5 APG. G Chris Clement, 6-2, senior, 1 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 0.5 APG. F Pete Miller, 6-10, freshman, 2 PPG, 1 RPG.
Lafayette: G Joey Ptasinski, 6-2, junior, 14 PPG, 2 RPG, 1 APG. G Zach Rufer, 6-2, sophomore, 3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.5 APG. C Nathaniel Musters, 6-10, sophomore, 0 PPG, 4 RPG

Last Game: The Tigers almost snuck out of Hinkle Fieldhouse with a win on Saturday, eventually falling to the Butler Bulldogs 70-67. Despite hitting just 23 of 37 free throws, Princeton had a chance to tie the game at 69 when Denton Koon got a good look at a half-hook turning to the right baseline, but the shot hit the back iron.
Still, Koon finished with 21 points off the bench, while Hans Brase had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Henderson kept his rotation pretty tight, with only Koon and Chris Clement making more than a cameo appearance off the pine.
Here is a cool, albeit Butler-centric video:

The Leopards fell to 0-2 last Wednesday with a 90-81 home loss to Robert Morris. Up by as many as 11 points in the second half, Lafayette was outscored 42-22 over the last 14 minutes of the game. Guard Bryce Scott led all scorers with 25 points, while Dan Trist had 18 and 12 rebounds.

Key Matchup: at 6-9 and 246 pounds, Australian big man Trist is a physical presence down low and will have a size advantage over Brase (who, at 6-8, weighs in at 231). Trist only averaged 3.7 boards a year ago, but if the Robert Morris game is any indication, he looks to be hitting the glass a little harder this year. The Leopards don’t have much size besides Trist, so if Brase can win that battle the Tigers figure to have the advantage in the paint.

Storylines: Koon has played starters’ minutes this year, and doesn’t seem to be affected by Henderson continuing to go with Weisz in the starting lineup. Weisz has played well, earning rave reviews for his basketball IQ and work ethic, but its hard to imagine that Princeton will go the entire season starting games without its best player not named T.J. Bray on the floor.
As for Bray, the senior captain got the cast taken off his left wrist last week, but the Tigers are being cautious with his return.

Rider announces signings of Williams, Grant

Rider coach Kevin Baggett announced the signing of a pair of recruits for the 2014-15 season Tuesday afternoon.

Former Notre Dame High star Josh Williams, who is currently at the St. Thomas Moore School in Connecticut, will return to his native stomping grounds.

Williams, a 6-foot-6 forward, averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for Bob Turco's Irish squad that won the Mercer County Tournament championship last year on the floor at Alumni Gymnasium.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Purdue 81, Rider 77

Despite holding a nine-point lead in the second half, Rider couldn’t stop Purdue from rallying for a 81-77 victory Sunday night at Mackey Arena.

Anthony Myles led Rider (0-2) with 19 points. His 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining cut the Boilermakers’ lead to 77-75.

But Sterling Carter made both free throws with the Broncs forced to foul and a turnover by Zedric Sadler allowed Ronnie Johnson to coast in for a layup with 20 seconds left to ice the game.

Danny Stewart finished with 16 points and six rebounds before fouling out. Freshman Jimmie Taylor added 13.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

RIDER GAMEDAY: Sadler boost for trip to Purdue

 Who: Rider (0-1) at Purdue (2-0)

When: Sunday, 7 p.m., Mackey Arena

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc

Last Time Out: Rider lost to Lehigh, 92-78; Purdue def. Central Connecticut State, 109-73

Coaches: Rider — Kevin Baggett, 2nd season (19-16); Purdue — Matt Painter, 9th season (178-95)

Background: There is some good news for Rider as it travels to the Midwest for a non-conference game against Purdue.

Coach Kevin Baggett said sophomore point guard Zedric Sadler will be available.

Sadler had a sore left knee and missed the season-opening loss at Lehigh.

“He’s going to play,” Baggett said before the team boarded a flight for Indiana. “I’m sure it won’t be significant minutes because this is his first game back. He just started practice this week.”
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

RIDER RUNBACK: Game 1 — Lehigh 92, Rider 78

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Three talking points from Rider's season-opening loss at Lehigh.

1. Four Words: "We were awful defensively." Those were the first words to come out of coach Kevin Baggett's mouth after the Broncs (0-1) allowed 92 points, the most since Baggett took charge and highest total against since Marist scored 95 in 2011.

From watching Tuesday night, it was hard to believe that this was a Rider team that ranked in the top-10 nationally in 3-point defense deep into the season a year ago when it allowed just 5.2 3s per game and limited opponents to 28.8 percent from behind the arc.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

RIDER GAMEDAY: Broncs open at Lehigh

Who: Rider (0-0) at Lehigh (0-1)

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m., Stabler Arena.

TV: PLN Network.

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last Time Out: Rider season opener; Lehigh lost to Minnesota, 81-62.

Coaches: Rider — Kevin Baggett, 2nd season (19-15); Lehigh — Dr. Brett Reed, 7th season (115-74).

Background: The Broncs renew a rivalry with the Mountain Hawks — formerly the Engineers when the two were rivals in the Middle Atlantic and East Coast Conferences — Saturday night when the two schools meet for the first time since 2009.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Curious Case of Denton Koon

Coach Mitch Henderson made an interesting decision Sunday afternoon against Florida A&M, starting freshman Spencer Weisz over junior Denton Koon. This was a surprise for a couple of reasons. With T.J. Bray out, Koon is probably the best active player on the Princeton squad. Last season he averaged 10.5 points and 3 rebounds per game playing mostly out of his natural position at the two guard spot, which speaks to the natural sort of athleticism and skill set he brings to the table. It reasoned that moving Koon back to his natural forward position this year would only help those numbers.

Weisz played pretty well, with 5 points, 6 boards and 4 assists, but he just isn't the same type of athlete Koon is. Henderson even joked post game that Weisz "plays the game like a 40-year old man. Unfortunately, he moves like a 40-year old man too." At 6-foot-8, nobody has ever said that about Koon.

Here is what Henderson had to say about the decision:

Like Henderson said, it was clear Koon wasn't thrilled about the arrangement, but he did to say the right thing:

My sense of the situation is that, given how early it is the season, the move was more about sending a motivational message to Koon than Henderson thinking Weisz, at this point, is the superior player. While supremely talented, there are times when Koon seems to get frustrated on the court to the point where it negatively affects his play. Early in the season, this sort of thing is relatively common. The Tigers opponent, Florida A&M, brought their leading returning scorer Jamie Adams off the bench in their opener against Rutgers and he was back in the starting lineup Sunday. If so, the message seems to have been received: Koon was a beast, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 boards in just 28 minutes on the floor. I think this quote from Henderson makes it pretty clear:

"I will say that it’s really important that our program is defined by the way Denton did things today. I’m pleased and proud of the way he played, because he made guys better."

Henderson said that at the moment he is more focused on the process than on who starts and who comes off the bench, but he also knows that the best way to win is to put your best players in the game. If Koon practices the way he played Sunday this week, I'd expect him back in the starting lineup against Butler.

Princeton/Florida A&M postgame

Princeton/Florida A&M preview

Who: Princeton Tigers (0-0) vs. Florida A&M Rattlers (0-1)
Where/When: 1 p.m., Jadwin Gym
Coaches: Princeton – Mitch Henderson. Florida A&M – Clemon Johnson.
Probable Starters: Florida A&M - F Walter Davis III, F Trey Kellum, C Odi Onyekachukwo, G Reggie Lewis, G Jamie Adams
Princeton - G Jimmy Sherburne, G Ben Hazel, F Denton Koon, F Will Barrett, F Hans Brase.

Background: The Rattlers lost the opening leg of their New Jersey road trip Friday night, falling to Rutgers 92-84 in a game that was closer than many expected. Florida A&M also surprised with their starting lineup, which did not include guard Jamie Adams, who was their leading scorer a season ago (Adams did, however, come off the bench to score nine points in 22 minutes). Considering that Adams came off the bench at almost exactly the 10 minute mark of the first half, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets the start today.

Here is what coach Mitch Henderson said about Adams Thursday:

“He played at Hail Franciscan, which is a school in Chicago that really emphasizes getting up and down, so that’s how he plays. I’ve never seen somebody get his own rebound and run his own break (like him.) We’re ready for that, but I’m not sure our guys know exactly what they are in for. They’ll figure it out. It’s going to be really important positioning, figuring out where you are on the floor and how to handle that. Talking in transition is going to be really important.”

The top performers for the Rattlers were forward Trey Kellem, who had 10 points and six rebounds, as well as reserve guard Muhammad Abdul-Aleem, who scored 16 points of the bench.

While Onyekachukwu is 6-foot-8, the Rattlers appear to struggle with size, getting outrebounded by Rutgers 37-50 and allowing the 6-9 Kadeem Jack to go off for 30 points and 12 boards. The Tigers don’t have a Kadeem Jack on their squad, but they still feature a big front line of 6-8 Denton Koon, 6-10 Will Barrett and 6-8 Hans Brase that could give Florida A&M trouble.

The key to the game could be how Princeton handles the Rattlers pressure, which they showed against the Scarlett Knights. With senior captain T.J. Bray out with a wrist injury, Jimmy Shurburne and Ben Hazel will need to make good decisions in the backcourt.

Here is what Henderson had to say about Hazel and Sherburne:

“They both give us something different. They are pretty different players. Jimmy’s got something that we really need, the ability to get to the basket. He’s a good passer and he sees things. He’s continuing to work on throwing it to the guys with the right color jersey. Orange and black, Jim. Ben is really a driller. He’s got a sense for the game. His biggest challenge is…how good do you want to be? Because I think he could be pretty good if he continues to push himself to be better than just making shots. He hasn’t been asked to carry a lot of the heavy lifting, and now we are asking him to do that.”