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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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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."

Rider got back into the game by cranking up its pressure, forcing 12 of Albany's 21 turnovers in the second half.

"We were able to get some easy baskets when we did press," Baggett said. "We started off trying to press early on, but we didn't speed those guys up. We didn't play hard enough in the press and they were able to break it and get easy baskets. That starts with me. We'll be alright. We just have to show up right out of the gate and treat it like it's the Purdue game every game. If we play like that and lose, I'm fine with that. If we play like we did tonight, I'm not fine with that."

Twenty-three point deficits don't get turned into wins at this level.

2. Three-ball unkind: In losses to Lehigh and Albany, Rider has been outscored from deep 77-30. The Broncs need to improve their 3-point defense. Last season, Rider ranked 18th nationally in 3-point defense, limiting opponents to 29.6 percent from beyond the arc. Through the first four games this season, the opposition is shooting 39.4 percent and averaging seven 3s per game. It's still early, so the defense can certainly remedy that, but if the Broncs aren't going to defend the 3, they are going to have to shoot better than the 3 for 14 they tossed up Tuesday night.

3. Jimmie coming along: The freshman guard was the lone bright spot for the Broncs. He scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, spearheading the Rider press that helped it close within eight points. Taylor has already been shouldered with more responsibility than anticipated because of the injury to Zedric Sadler. Baggett said Sadler, who came back after sitting out one game when it was originally thought he would miss three, may have re-injured himself Tuesday night. Taylor's a fast study with a quick first step on offense -- he still needs to improve his perimeter defense -- but he'll be a player Baggett can count on as the season continues.

"Whoever steps out on the court ... we have to play harder, we have to play better, we have to play tougher" Baggett said.

Parting Shot: There's no need to panic if you're in Rider's shoes. Just look around the conference. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is really down this season.

MAAC schools went 1-5 in six games Tuesday night. Manhattan lost to Fordham; Niagara was blown out by Penn; Monmouth continues to look like a bottom feeder; Canisius lost at home to Division II Metro State. The lone victory -- Saint Peter's over Tommy Dempsey's Binghamton.

Only two schools are over .500 thus far: Newbies Quinnipiac (4-1) and Manhattan (3-2). Marist is off to an 0-7 start under new coach Jeff Bower and at 1-5 Sydney Johnson's Fairfield is up to its old tricks, cracking the 60-point mark just once in six games.

Up Next: Rider (1-3) begins play in the 47th annual Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara, Calif., on Friday. The Broncs face Rice (2-3), which is coming off a loss to Mercer County neighbor Princeton. The Broncs finish the holiday trip Saturday against either host Santa Clara or North Dakota State.


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