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

Friday, February 28, 2014


Who: Princeton Tigers (15-8, 3-6) vs. Yale Bulldogs (14-10, 8-2)
When/Where: 7 p.m. Friday, Jadwin Gym.
Who: Princeton vs. Brown Bears (14-10, 6-4)
When/Where: 6 p.m. Saturday, Jadwin Gym.
Coverage: 103.3 WPRB, Ivy League Digital Network

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Taylor doing his part but Broncs need seniors to step up

LAWRENCEVILLE — Rider head coach Kevin Baggett can’t ask for much more from freshman point guard Jimmie Taylor.

During this rut in which the Broncs have lost five of their last six, Taylor has been the only consistent player.

He finished Sunday’s 69-60 loss to Siena with 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting. That came two days after he scored 19, including 13 of Rider’s final 15, in a three-point loss to Iona.

“My seniors should be stepping up and setting the tone for this team and they’re not,” Baggett said, lobbing a direct shot at Anthony Myles, Danny Stewart and Tommy Pereira. “I don’t expect Jimmie to do any more than he’s doing.”

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Rider hits rock bottom in loss to Siena

LAWRENCEVILLE — This is rock bottom.

Rider head coach Kevin Baggett said as much after his team lost for the fifth time in six games following a 69-60 setback against Siena in which the Broncs were held scoreless in the last two minutes and surrendered the final nine points.

“We have to find a way out of it,” Baggett said, “because no one is going to feel sorry for us.”

With Sunday’s loss, Rider has dropped four straight at Alumni Gymnasium and is running out of time — just two regular-season games remain — to turn things around before the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

The Saints (13-16, 9-9) rubbed salt in the wound by wrestling fifth place — and the first-round bye that comes with it — away from the Broncs (13-14, 9-9) by virtue of a season sweep.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Rider faces must-win Sunday against Siena

Who: Siena (12-16, 8-9) at Rider (13-13, 9-8)

When: Sunday, 2 p.m., Alumni Gymnasium

TV: None

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc

Last Time Out: Rider lost to Iona, 80-77; Siena def. Manhattan, 67-63

Previous Meeting: Siena won 62-47 on Jan. 4

Background: The race for fifth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is on.

Rider holds a one-game edge over both Siena and Marist with three games to play. The top five get an opening-round bye at the conference tournament, while the sixth-place finisher has to play that first night and will have to win four games instead of three to claim the league’s automatic NCAA berth.
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Rider's late rally falls short in loss to Iona

Jimmie Taylor scored 13 straight Rider points, but the team's rally fell short. Photo by Gregg Slaboda


Trailing Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leader Iona by 13 with three minutes left, Jimmie Taylor led an improbable rally that nearly landed Rider an even more unlikely victory.

Ultimately, the Broncs came up short despite cutting that 13-point deficit to one in the final minute and fell to Iona, 80-77, Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

“Waited a little too late to get going,” head coach Kevin Baggett lamented.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rider has to contend with Iona's fast-paced offense

Tim Cluess' Iona team has won 9 in a row. Photo by John Blaine

Rider head coach Kevin Baggett sat in his office earlier this week watching tape of Iona’s 101-91 victory over Canisius.

“That’s like a rat race there,” the second-year boss said.

Thus the challenge presented to his Broncs (13-12, 9-7) when they face the Gaels Friday night (8 p.m., ESPNU) at Alumni Gymnasium in the first of two meetings in 10 days against the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leaders.

Iona (17-8, 14-2) has won nine straight, posting at least 85 points in seven of those victories.

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PRINCETON WEEKEND: Dartmouth and Harvard

(all stats as of Feb. 20)
Who: Princeton Tigers (14-7, 2-5) vs. Dartmouth Big Green (9-13, 2-6)
When/Where: 7 p.m. Friday, Jadwin Gym
Who: Princeton vs. Harvard Crimson (20-4, 7-1)
When/Where: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jadwin Gym
Coverage: Dartmouth – 103.3 WPRB, Ivy League Digital Network. Harvard – 103.3 WPRB, ESPN3, ESPNU (Delay).
Probable Starters
Princeton:  C Hans Brase (6-8, sophomore, 11.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.2 APG). F Steven Cook (6-5, freshman, 3.5 PPG, 2 RPG). F Spencer Weisz (6-4, freshman, 9.2 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.1 APG). F Will Barrett (6-10, senior, 11.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG). G T.J. Bray (6-5, senior, 18.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 5.4 APG).
Dartmouth: G Alex Mitola (5-11, sophomore, 10.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.3 APG). G Tyler Melville (6-2, senior, 8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1 APG). G Kevin Crescenzi (6-3, sophomore, 5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1 APG). F John Golden (6-6, junior, 9.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.9 APG). C Cole Harrison (6-10, freshman, 1.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG).
Harvard: F Kyle Casey (6-7, senior, 10 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG). F Steve Moundou-Missi (6-7, junior, 9.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG). F Wesley Saunders (6-5, junior, 14.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG). G Siyani Chambers (6-0, sophomore, 11 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 4.3 APG). G Laurent Rivard (6-5, senior, 9.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG).
On Dartmouth: Despite a promising start, everything has gone downhill for the Big Green since beating Penn and Princeton on back-to-back nights during their second Ivy weekend. Since then, they’ve lost four straight league games, including one to Cornell, a team that hadn’t beaten a Division I opponent all season. In their last game against Columbia, coach Paul Cormier tried to staunch the bleeding by replacing sophomore forwards Connor Boehm and Matt Rennie in the starting lineup with freshman center Cole Harrison and sophomore guard Kevin Crescenzi.
“They outrebound us and played harder, and that’s really tough for us because we were coming off a very tough game Friday night (at Harvard) and did not respond well,” Tigers coach Mitch Henderson said, when asked about his team’s loss to the Big Green. “We had a lot of mental mistakes. We had been taking care of the ball very nicely all year, and in both of those games up there we didn’t take care of the ball.”
On Harvard: While many thought the Crimson would run away with the league — especially after Princeton’s disastrous start — coach Tommy Amaker’s squad has looked far from unbeatable the past two weekends. They dropped a game to Yale, and were nearly upset by Columbia before eventually overcoming the Lions in double overtime. With the Bulldogs also 7-1 in the Ivy, Harvard can’t afford any more league slip-ups and should be plenty motivated Saturday night at Jadwin, a venue they’ve lost their last 24 games.
Denton Koon: Denton Koon’s lost season hit a new low point over the weekend. The 6-foot-8 forward, who started 24 games last season and was expected to be a key cog this year, didn’t get in the game against either Brown or Yale. Though he was dressed and on the bench, Koon has been battling knee tendinitis all season, which has limited his mobility. Henderson declined comment Thursday, and Koon was unavailable to speak to the media.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

MAAC notebook: Billy Baron doing it all for Canisius

Jim Baron, left, instructs son Billy during a practice. Billy Baron is likely going to win MAAC Player of the Year. AP Photo.

Canisius guard Billy Baron has the battle scars to prove how tough he is. Stitches in his face. Stitches in his arm.

Yet the Golden Griffins senior guard keeps on coming.

"He's like the Energizer Bunny," said his coach and father Jim Baron. "He just keeps going and going and going. Physically they just keep coming after him and he's so resilient. He's just unbelievable."

Baron is second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and third nationally in scoring, averaging 24.6 points per game. He was just named one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the best point guard in the country.

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Friday, February 14, 2014


(all stats as of Feb. 13)
Who: Princeton Tigers (13-6, 1-4) at Brown Bears (12-8, 4-2)
When/Where: 7 p.m. Friday, Providence, R.I.:
Who: Princeton at Yale Bulldogs (11-9, 5-1)
When/Where: 6 p.m. Saturday, New Haven, Conn.
Coverage: 103.3 WPRB, Ivy League Digital Network

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Changes could be coming for Broncs at Fairfield

Khalil Alford has played well off the bench. Photo by John Blaine

Who: Rider (12-12, 8-7) at Fairfield (5-21, 2-13)

When: Saturday, 4 p.m., Webster Bank Arena

TV: None

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc

Last Time Out: Rider lost to Manhattan, 86-69; Fairfield lost to Quinnipiac, 80-72

Previous Meeting: Rider won 73-65 on Feb. 3

Background: Could it be time for the Broncs to ring in the changes?

Listening to coach Kevin Baggett following Thursday night’s 17-point home loss to Manhattan, that is a real possibility Saturday.

Rider has lost three straight and is in a fight to hold onto the fifth spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
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Rider's free fall continues with 17-point loss at home to Manhattan

Kevin Baggett didn't have any answers falling a 17-point loss. Photo by John Blaine

LAWRENCEVILLE — While Rider coach Kevin Baggett didn’t outright call Thursday night’s 86-69 loss to Manhattan the low point of the season, the second-year boss is clearly searching for answers.

A 17-point home defeat — the Broncs’ third straight in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference — will make you do that.

“I can be honest with you,” Baggett said. “Everybody is looking for answers. This is pretty tough.”

The Broncs (12-12, 8-7) dropped to 6-4 at Alumni Gymnasium and 2-7 against teams with a record above .500.

They have five games remaining to right the ship before the conference tournament. As it stands, they’ll be fortunate to hold on to the coveted fifth position, sitting a half game ahead of Siena, which comes to Lawrenceville on Feb. 23 in what is shaping up to be a huge game.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rider looking for winning run to finish regular season

LAWRENCEVILLE — At this time last year, Rider was in a similar position: Toiling in the middle of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference hoping to move up the league standings all while avoiding the play-in round of the conference tournament.

Not much has changed this go round with six games to play.

The Broncs have lost two straight and are 12-11 overall and 8-6 in the MAAC, sitting in fifth place, four games behind leader Iona. The top five finishers get a bye at the conference tournament and will only have to win three games instead of four.

Of course, Rider ran off six straight a season ago to finish second, only missing out on the regular-season title when Niagara also won on the final day.

That hasn’t been lost this week on coach Kevin Baggett or his players.

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Worn-down Rider falls at Quinnipiac

HAMDEN, Conn. — His team playing for the third time this week against physically imposing Quinnipiac, Rider head coach Kevin Baggett could sense this kind of performance coming.

Battered on both ends of the floor by the nation’s top rebounding team, the Broncs dropped a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contest, 82-61, on Saturday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center.

“I know we’re tired,” Baggett said. “I’m not making any excuses because Quinnipiac kicked our behinds.”

The Bobcats lead the country in rebounds per game and rebounding margin, so for Rider coming off a performance in which it was outrebounded by 21 against Marist that wasn’t a good omen.

With big men Ike Azotam and Ousmane Drame clogging the middle, Quinnipiac hammered the Broncs on the glass, 44-30, collecting 23 offensive boards along the way.

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


Friday, February 7, 2014



Who: Rider (12-10, 8-5) at Quinnipiac (13-8, 8-4)

When: Saturday, 2 p.m., TD Bank Sports Center


Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc

Last Time Out: Rider lost to Marist, 68-61; Quinnipiac def. Siena, 103-95 in OT

Previous Meeting: Rider won 90-78 on Dec. 8

Background: Coach Kevin Baggett thought the Broncs were timid around Marist big man Adam Kemp, trying for finger rolls instead of attacking the 7-footer. Not only did Kemp alter several shots at the rim, the Red Foxes won the rebounding battle 47-26.

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Broncs' McKenzie validates POY credentials

Coach Lynn Milligan and MyNeshia McKenzie. Photo by John Blaine

LAWRENCEVILLE — Lynn Milligan refers to February as "go time."

She defines that as the time of year that seniors need to step up and be accounted for. The Rider women's coach just happens to have the top senior in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on her side.

All you could do was marvel at MyNeshia McKenzie after she turned in a 37-point, 19-rebound performance in the Broncs' 92-90 overtime upset of Iona Thursday night that snapped the Gaels' 18-game winning streak.

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Rider's winning streak snapped by Marist

Jimmie Taylor puts up a shot over Chavaughn Lewis. Photo by John Blaine
LAWRENCEVILLE — Chasing the leaders in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference the last thing Rider could afford to do was drop a game at Alumni Gymnasium.
But when you don’t finish at the rim and get hammered on the glass that’s what happens.
The Broncs had their three-game winning streak snapped Thursday night as Marist used a strong second half to win 68-61 and send a large and vocal crowd home unhappy.
“They took it from us,” coach Kevin Baggett said.
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MyNeshia McKenzie's record-breaking night leads Rider women to upset over Iona

MyNeshia McKenzie had 37 points and 19 rebounds in Rider's upset win. Photo by John Blaine

LAWRENCEVILLE — When the Rider women’s basketball program had the opportunity to score the signature win it has been longing for Thursday night, it finally had something the opposition didn’t.

The magnificent MyNeshia McKenzie.

The senior forward simply was not going to be denied.

On a night when she became the program’s all-time leading rebounder and tied the record for most points in a game, the Broncs got arguably their biggest victory in program history, snapping Iona’s 18-game winning streak with a 92-90 overtime triumph that handed the first-place Gaels their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference defeat.

McKenzie finished with 37 points and 19 rebounds.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

PRINCETON WEEKEND: Columbia and Cornell

(All stats as of Feb. 6)

Who: Princeton Tigers (12-5, 0-3) vs. Columbia Lions (13-8, 2-2) and Princeton vs. Cornell Big Red (1-17, 0-4).

When/Where: 7 p.m. Friday (Columbia) and 6 p.m. Saturday (Cornell) at Jadwin Gym.

Coverage: WPRB 103.3, Ivy League Digital Network

Projected starters

Princeton: F Hans Brase (6-8, sophomore, 12.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.6 APG). F Steven Cook (6-5, freshman, 1.6 PPG, 1 RPG). F Spencer Weisz (6-4, freshman, 9.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.2 APG). F Will Barrett (6-10, senior, 12.4 PPG,  3.7 RPG, 0.8 APG). G T.J. Bray (6-5, senior, 17.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.7 APG).

Columbia: F Alex Rosenberg (6-7, junior, 14.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.1 APG). C Cory Osetkowski (6-10, junior, 7.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.7 APG). G Isaac Cohen (6-4, sophomore, 4.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.6 APG). G Grant Mullins (6-3, sophomore, 12.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.4 APG). G Maodo Lo (6-3, sophomore, 14 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.4 APG).

Cornell: F Dwight Tarwater (6-6, senior, 6 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 APG). F David Onuorah (6-9, freshman, 2.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG). G Robert Hatter (6-2, freshman, 9.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 2.1 APG). G Devin Cherry (6-3, junior, 11.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.1 APG). G Nolan Cressler (6-4, sophomore, 16.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.7 APG).

On Columbia: The Lions — picked to finish dead last in the Ivy’s preseason media poll — have been one of the pleasant surprises in the league this season. Though their best win was probably against American (ranked 98th by, they played both Michigan State and St. John’s extremely tough and realistically could finish the season in the upper half of the Ivy standings. While depth has been a little bit of an issue for the Lions, they have three players junior forward Alex Rosenberg and sophomore guards Maodo Lo and Grant Mullins that can go off for 20-plus points on any given night.
“These guys have now been playing together for at least a year, and they seem to know what is expected of them,” coach Mitch Henderson said. “They are tough. Both offensively and defensively they do things well, and we are playing with a little bit of a challenge on our end. We have to figure this out.”

On Cornell:  If Columbia’s season has been something of a surprise, Cornell’s can only be considered a major disappointment. The Big Red don’t have a Division I win on the season, with their only victory coming against DIII Oberlin. Their adjusted defensive efficiency of 121.2 is the second worst in the nation ahead of only Grambling, and the have both shot and made fewer free throws than any team in DI. Still, there is some cause for the Tigers to be concerned. In their last Ivy game against Yale, Cornell came close to upsetting the Bulldogs — a solid team in the league — eventually falling 61-57. Sophomore guard Nolan Cressler had 29 points in that game. The Big Red could deffinately be a challenge for a Princeton team still reeling from three consecutive league losses.
“They are very aggressive getting up on guys,” Henderson said. “It’s one game at a time, but for us it is just the human element. How are we going to respond? I thought Monday’s practice was good, but I thought last Monday’s practice was good. We’ve got to dig in.”

Rider picks up commitment from Anthony Durham

Rider has picked up a commitment for the 2014-15 season in 6-foot-3 guard Anthony Durham out of Philadelphia.

Durham is completing a prep year at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.

He’s averaging 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds for 19-2 Putnam, which is ranked second in the latest National Prep School Poll.
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow or sleet, freshman Khalil Thomas stepping up for Rider

Freshman Khalil Thomas is playing well. Photo by John Blaine.

LAWRENCEVILLE — The first time Rider freshman forward Kahlil Thomas saw snow was earlier this season on the walk back to his dorm following a win over Quinnipiac.

The first time Thomas, a Parkway, Fla., native, had a class canceled by the white stuff was Monday when the skies opened and dumped half a foot on Mercer County.

“Never had a school snow day,” Thomas joked after finishing practice Wednesday following a second day of no classes this week. “I was just like, ‘Aww, man!’”

That, though, didn’t stop the Broncs from pressing on with their game against Fairfield, which they ended up winning to go 3-0 on days when it snows.

For his part, Thomas turned in a pretty solid performance, collecting 11 points and six rebounds.
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Sydney Johnson taking his lumps in third year at Fairfield

Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson is struggling in his third season. Photo by John Blaine


LAWRENCEVILLE — Nearly three years ago, Sydney Johnson came within a single possession of coaching the Princeton Tigers to a shocking NCAA tournament win against fourth-seeded Kentucky.

Monday night at Rider, Johnson looked on as his Fairfield Stags lost to the Broncs, 73-65, dropping to 4-19 overall and 1-11 in MAAC play.

While the difference in stage and stakes couldn’t have been more stark, Johnson — a former standout player for the Tigers who was the 1997 Ivy League Player of the Year and part of the 1996 tournament team that upset UCLA — is a realist about his current squad.

“I’ve been very blessed in my coaching career that I’ve been a part of a lot of winning,” Johnson said, when asked if he was surprised by his team’s play. “Prior to this year, I had 80 wins over the past four seasons. As I looked at the team, I knew that wasn’t coming.”

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Struggling Fairfield still concerns Baggett, Rider

LAWRENCEVILLE — Throw out the records.

As far as coach Kevin Baggett and Rider are concerned it doesn’t matter that Fairfield enter’s Monday night’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contest with just one league win in 11 attempts.

The Stags have been the Broncs’ bugaboo since former Princeton coach Sydney Johnson took over. Fairfield has won the last four meetings between the schools with two of those coming in the MAAC tournament.

“I can sum it up by saying we are 0-4 for the last two years now against these guys,” Baggett said. “We’re certainly looking forward to playing it. It’s the first chance we have to play them. We’re at home and it’s another game that we need to be able to continue to climb the ladder as far as the standings.”

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rider's Jimmie Taylor working his way out of funk

Jimmie Taylor trying to break out of slump. Photo by Jackie Schear

JERSEY CITY — Jimmie Taylor got a text message from Rider coach Kevin Baggett in the morning telling him if he didn’t take at lest 10 shots in that night’s game at Saint Peter’s he was going to be mad.

Baggett has been trying to snap Taylor, a talented freshman guard, out of this midseason funk he’s been in.

Since a hot start that turned heads and made Taylor a frontrunner for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, the Floridian has mimicked the weather outside — cold.

He scored a career-high 24 points in a win over Niagara Jan. 2, but has only reached double figures in three of the last eight games.

Baggett referred to it as the “freshmen wall”, something he said is common for first-year players who are being asked to log more minutes with greater responsibility than ever before.

Taylor is a perfect case study.
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Myles keys Broncs to win over Saint Peter's

JERSEY CITY — Anthony Myles summed it up best: When Rider makes shots, it’s a tough team to beat.

Myles led the way Friday night as the Broncs poured in a season-high 13 3-pointers in a 71-53 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory against Saint Peter’s at the Yanitelli Center.

“That’s what we strive off of,” said the senior guard, who finished with 19 points, including making 5 of 6 from behind the arc.

Myles bounced back from a 1-for-10 performance in the first meeting between these two. Unsurprisingly, that was a Rider loss.

“It’s hard to come out every night and perform,” Myles said. “Even if my shots not going in, I can lead in other ways with defense, rebounds and being in the right place at the right time.”
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PRINCETON POSTGAME VIDEO: Harvard 82, Princeton 76