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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

Friday, January 17, 2014

Saint Peter's coach John Dunne getting the most out of his club

John Dunne's Saint Peter's has won three straight MAAC games. AP Photo.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Trailing by 21 points at halftime to Canisius at home, John Dunne looked at his team in the locker room and asked them to grow as a group.

Dunne didn't expect Saint Peter's to come back and win the game. He just wanted his kids to play hard and compete for the last 20 minutes.

The Peacocks didn't win, but they sliced the deficit to one with three minutes remaining.

"We fell short, but I think in that moment we finally figured out what it took to win because we played with a high level energy and togetherness," Dunne said.

In their next game, they trailed Fairfield by 17 with 11 minutes left -- only this time rallying to win. They followed that up with a wire-to-wire victory over a tough Quinnipiac team at home and then beat Rider, 77-69, Thursday night for a three-game winning streak.

"I'm just excited about the way our team is playing right now," Dunne said. "I wasn't sure what to expect as far as the outcome, but I knew we were going to play hard, we were going to play with confidence and we were going to compete because we've just started doing that the last few games."

Dunne has one of the toughest jobs in the country at the Jersey City school that spans just a few city blocks in an unfancied part of town.

But he's really taken lemons and made lemonade since arriving at the school in 2006 after several years as an assistant at Seton Hall.

He guided SPU -- then Saint Peter's College before it changed to University in 2012 -- to a NCAA Tournament berth in 2010-11 after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. The Peacocks finished that season 20-14.

The next two years were rough -- a combined 9-47 record -- as that NCAA team was gutted by graduation and Dunne had to start from scratch.

The administration stuck with him and Dunne brought in impact transfers like smooth-shooting guard Desi Washington (Delaware State) and scoring forward Marvin Dominique (Fordham).

Both juniors, Dominique leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game and Washington is second at 13 per contest.

Having bounced back from a 4-9 start, SPU is sitting at 7-9 and 3-4 in the MAAC, but Dunne isn't into predicting the future.

"I don't know what our ceiling is as the season goes along," he said, "but I'm just really excited that our team is coming together."

What the Peacocks might end up being is a tough out in March when everybody convenes for the MAAC Tournament in Springfield, Mass.

They've surprised people before.

"We're having good practices," Dunne said. "Everybody is excited. It's just parlaying into some wins."


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