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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

Monday, December 9, 2013

RIDER RUNBACK: Game 8 - Rider 90, Quinnipiac 78

Danny Stewart puts up a shot against Quinnipiac. Photo/GREGG SLABODA

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Three thoughts from Rider's 90-78 victory over Quinnipiac Sunday afternoon that gave the Broncs a 2-0 start in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.

1. Feels good to be 2-0: Rider won back-to-back games for the first time this season to pull its record even at 4-4, but more importantly, at 2-0 in the league. The Broncs handled both of the MAAC's newcomers -- Monmouth and Quinnipiac -- on opening weekend. "We had to get these two," senior forward Danny Stewart said. "We just had to get the win at home. I think we actually really needed this one. We got the win at Monmouth, but the win at home will really help us go forward."

Rider played six of its first seven away from Alumni Gym, but has three of the next four at home. The lone road game is a trip to red-hot Villanova. "We have to keep getting better," Stewart said.

2. Jimmie, Jimmie, Jimmie: Freshman guard Jimmie Taylor will be a contender for MAAC Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. Just eight games in, the youngster has established himself as a third scorer for coach Kevin Baggett behind Stewart and Anthony Myles. He had 21 points Sunday and is averaging 13.3 points per game.

Taylor said he was nervous at the beginning of the year being asked to start right away. Clearly, he's over those nerves. "Having played two MAAC league games, I have a feel of what the MAAC is going to be like," Taylor said. "Teams are going to be aggressive like this then I know I have to be aggressive. I'm also going to have to get mentally tough and physically tough."

Freshman Jimmie Taylor is off to a strong start. Photo/ JOHN BLAINE

3. On the run: Baggett preaches defense so there's no doubt he doesn't like that his team is giving up 82.1 points per game, but you get sense he also realizes he has a group that can score the ball better than originally thought. The Broncs are averaging 81.1 points per game themselves. While some of that can be attributed to the new rules created to increase scoring, this team is at its best when it pushes the tempo. Against Quinnipiac, the boxscore only shows four fastbreak points, but Rider was pushing the ball up the court after every missed shot and a big reason it was able to do that was because it battled the Bobcats, who came in as second best rebounding team in the country, on the glass, finishing minus-3 (41-44) on the boards.

Around the MAAC: With the opening round of conference games in the book, this is a good time to look around the league and see where schools stand. It's still early and the league grind always throws up some surprising results, but here's what the MAAC standings look like:

1. Manhattan (6-2, 2-0): With Rhamel Brown (4.4 blocks per game) anchoring the defense, the preseason favorite looks like a top two team. Having George Beamon healthy -- and scoring -- is a huge boost for Steve Masiello's squad which took down Marist and Monmouth to open its MAAC slate.

2. Iona (5-2, 2-0): Sean Armand (22.1 ppg) is on fire to start the year, shooting a sizzling 53.5 percent. He's become more than a 3-point specialist, although that is still where his bread is buttered. The Gaels have won four straight.

3. Canisius (5-3, 2-0): The Griffs bounced back from a mind-boggling home loss to Division II Metro State by knocking off St. Peter's and Siena to go 2-0 in the league.

4. Rider (4-4, 2-0): Danny Stewart and Anthony Myles -- at least 20 points for both in wins over Monmouth and Quinnipiac -- showed up big in a pair of conference victories. The Broncs still have some defensive issues to sort out, but it looks like they've got through an inconsistent start.

5. Quinnipiac (5-3, 1-1): The Bobcats lead the nation in rebounding margin and offensive rebounds and are second in total boards. That will make them a tough out in March. Ike Azotam is a tough cover on the block.

6. Siena (3-8, 1-1): This group is going to play hard for Jimmy Patsos and is only going to get better as the year goes on. The Saints will be a tough team to play a month from now.

7. Niagara (2-8, 1-1): Antoine Mason leads the nation in scoring, averaging 29.4 points per game. In the win over St. Peter's, he had 35 of the Purple Eagles' 61 points. Mason's going to get his, but he doesn't have much help after the team was decimated by the departure of Joe Mihalich, Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley.

8. Monmouth (3-6, 0-2): King Rice's squad is better than the last-place finish it was handed in the preseason poll. The Hawks play hard for Rice and have some big, although inexperienced, bodies they can throw at you. They'll have a chance to win a number of games at home.

9. St. Peter's (2-6, 0-2): By all accounts John Dunne likes some of the pieces he has, but the Buffalo trip is a tough way to start MAAC play and the Peacocks came home empty handed. Fordham transfer Marvin Dominique is off to a great start, averaging 18.1 points per game.

10. Fairfield (1-8, 0-2): Sydney Johnson won't panic despite eight consecutive losses after winning the opener. He'll figure out a way for this team to be in the middle of the pack come February. His offensively challenged group finally cracked the 70-point mark in its last two games, unfortunately both ended up as league losses to Quinnipiac and Iona.

11. Marist (0-9, 0-2): Tough start for Jeff Bower in Poughkeepsie as he's still in search of his first victory. The Red Foxes have played a tough schedule, but are running out of chances to pick up that elusive victory before league play.


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