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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Looking back at Kansas; looking ahead to Michigan State

Shawn Valentine got on the floor against Kansas, but it was a tough night at the office for the Broncs. (AP Photo)

Who: Rider (2-2) vs. No. 20 Michigan State (3-1).

When: Thursday, 6:30 p.m., HP Fieldhouse, Orlando, Fla.

Last Time Out: Rider lost to No. 11 Kansas, 87-60; Michigan State def. Santa Clara, 79-52.

Background: The Broncs are in the Sunshine State, but the schedule hasn’t got any brighter. After getting battered by Kansas, Rider now tangles with the 20th-ranked Spartans. Michigan State’s only loss was by 10 points to Duke.
Read more »

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rider coach Kevin Baggett has fond memories of Kansas trip

Rider coach Kevin Baggett visited Kansas when he was being recruited in high school. (John Blaine Photo)

By Kyle Franko
@kj_franko on Twitter

Lawrenceville >> The last time Kevin Baggett was on campus at the University of Kansas, Larry Brown was in charge of the Jayhawks, Prince was on top of the music charts and he was a wide-eyed high schooler venturing outside his native New Jersey.

That was 1984.

Baggett was a highly-rated prospect coming out of Burlington county and took an official visit to Lawrence. He recalled sitting in a box during the football game against Oklahoma with his host, legendary Jayhawk Danny Manning.

Read more »

Princeton stumbles to third striaght defeat

Princeton >> Mitch Henderson insists he won’t hit the panic button four games into the season, but based on Saturday’s head-scratching performance that culminated in a third-consecutive defeat, it may be time to wonder if Princeton will figure it out before it’s too late.

There wasn’t any evidence of that in a 79-68 home loss to Incarnate Word, a program still in the transitional phase to Division I.

“It’s a disappointing loss for us,” Henderson said. “I don’t want to make light of us, because I think we got a long way to go. We manage to let teams do what they do really well.”
Incarnate Word, located in San Antonio and representing the Southland Conference, is in its second season in Division I. The Cardinals won 21 games last season, their first at the Division I level, although 12 of those victories came against lower-tier competition.

Read more »

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Okereafor's big night lifts Rider past Lehigh in home opener

LAWRENCEVILLE >> Teddy Okereafor noticed that Lehigh players were going underneath the ball screens, leaving him open for 3-point shots. So he did what coach Kevin Baggett encourages him to do.

He pulled the trigger.

Okereafor scored 18 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, including 10 in the final 3:55 and Rider held off Lehigh, 78-74, on Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium in its home opener.

Read more »

Friday, November 21, 2014

Game 3: Lehigh at Rider

Who: Lehigh (0-2) at Rider (1-1).

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

TV/Radio: None/107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last Time Out: Rider def. Penn, 73-57; Lehigh lost to Canisius, 63-51.
Read more »

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rider/Penn leftovers: Khalil Alford provides boost off bench

Khalil Alford can be a spark off the bench. (John Blaine photo)

Some leftover thoughts from Rider's 73-57 victory over Penn, which evened the Broncs' record at 1-1 following an opening-nigh loss to Princeton.

1. Khalil Alford can be instant offense: The junior forward came off the bench to score 10 points, eight of which came consecutively in the first half with Rider leading 21-20. They helped spark a 19-3 run that gave the Broncs a 17-point cushion.
Read more »

Rider rips Penn to even record

Zedric Sadler had a career-high 23 points. (John Blaine Photo)

Philadelphia >> Rarely would you consider the second game of the season a must-win, but contemplating what’s on tap, it’s hard to blame Rider for feeling that way.

Coming off an opening-night loss, the Broncs continued their tour of Ivy League campuses, only this time picking up an important early victory, 73-57, over Penn Tuesday night at the Palestra.

What made Game No. 2 so important?

Rider plays its home opener Friday against Lehigh, which already pushed nationally-ranked Villanova before partaking in the Orlando Classic, featuring glamour games against Kansas, Michigan State and either Georgia Tech or Marquette in the same week.

A loss Tuesday night to a Quakers side picked to finish near the bottom of the eight-team Ivy League could have met a huge hole for Kevin Baggett’s club.

Instead, the Broncs come back to Lawrenceville with an even record.

Read more »

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rider/Princeton leftovers

Pete Miller shoots over Zedric Sadler. (Gregg Slaboda Photo)

Five leftovers from Princeton's 64-58 win over Rider Friday night in the season opener for both.

1. Shaka Smart and VCU's loss may just be Rider's gain: Teddy Okereafor looked great in his Broncs debut, scoring 16 points while dishing out four assists with just one turnover.

Read more »

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rider at Princeton Gameday

Who: Rider Broncs (0-0) at Princeton Tigers (0-0).

When/Where: 7 p.m., Friday, Jadwin Gym.

Coverage: 103.3 WPRB, Ivy League Digital Network; 107.7 FM The Bronc
Read more »

No hiding for Rider's Lopez now that he's back on floor

Rider's Matt Lopez. (Neil Davis Photo)

By Kyle Franko
@kj_franko on Twitter

Lawrenceville >> Over the last four years, Matt Lopez has experienced so many letdowns, he’s frankly tired of talking about them.

Because on Friday, he’ll be right where he wants to be when Rider takes the floor for its season opener against Princeton.

It’s been an arduous journey for Lopez, a 7-foot center, since starring at Washington Township High and then embarking on a college career.
Read more »

Princeton vows not to repeat last year's script

Princeton's Spencer Weisz. (Jackie Schear Photo)

By Nick Peruffo
@nickperuffo on Twitter

PRINCETON >> The story of last year’s Princeton Tigers took a disastrous turn at the most inopportune time.

After going 11-2 in their non-conference schedule with wins over Bucknell, Rutgers and Penn State, the Tigers lost their first four games in the Ivy League, essentially eliminating themselves from championship contention with a month left to play.

For this year’s Princeton squad, that four-game stretch — and the desire to avoid something similar from striking again — looms large.
Read more »

MAAC Preview

Iona's David Laury. (John Blaine Photo)

By Kyle Franko
@kj_franko on Twitter

Year in and year out, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tends to be the most competitive of the mid-major leagues from top to bottom. In 2014-15, that’s the case once again. Here’s one scribe’s best guess at predicting the unpredictable (last season’s record in parentheses).

Read more »

Ivy League Preview

Harvard's Wesley Saunders (AP Photo)

By Nick Peruffo
@nickperuffo on Twitter

Coming off a 13-1 Ivy League season and third straight trip to the NCAA tournament, Harvard is once against the favorite in the Ivy League. But that doesn’t mean the Ancient Eight won’t throw up a surprise or two. We try to break down how the league will shake out (last year’s record in parentheses).

Read more »

Rider women searching for perfect balance

Sophomore forward Julia Duggan. (Gregg Slaboda Photo)

By Kyle Franko
@kj_franko on Twitter

Lawrenceville >> Lynn Milligan keeps getting asked the same question.

It’s the elephant in the room when discussing the Rider women’s basketball team.

Who’s going to score?

No, it won’t be the ghost of MyNeshia McKenzie, who graduated as the program’s third all-time leading scorer and top rebounder.

“If you look at the teams that are above us and are fighting for a championship each year, they are balanced and have four or five people you have to guard,” said Milligan, who enters her eighth season in charge of her alma mater. She’s guided the Broncs to 30 wins over the last two years.

Read more »

Princeton women now the hunters in Ivy chase

Senior guard Blake Dietrick. (Jackie Schear Photo)

@nickperuffo on Twitter

PRINCETON >> The Princeton women enter this season in the unfamiliar position of the hunter rather than the hunted.

After winning four consecutive Ivy Leagues titles from 2010 to 2013, the Tigers came up a game short last season, losing to Penn in the final game of the season in a de facto league championship game. Though they went on to notch the first true postseason win in program history by beating Virginia Commonwealth in the WNIT, it was cold consolation.

“They’ve never lacked effort, but you can get numb to winning, like ‘that’s what we do here,’” coach Courtney Banghart said at the team’s media day. “We’ve proven that isn’t what we do here, it’s what we earn here. We didn’t earn it last year.”
Read more »

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rider has plenty to work on after exhibition win

Lawrenceville >> While an 11-point victory over a Division II school which won 10 games a year ago is far from convincing, Rider head coach Kevin Baggett was pleased to get this exhibition game under his team’s belt.

The Broncs have put in a new offense revolving around skilled 7-footer Matt Lopez and are trying to nail down some defensive concepts.

Mix all that together and you tend to get a result like Saturday’s 62-51 victory over Kutztown at Alumni Gymnasium.
Read more »

Friday, November 7, 2014

Taylor aiming for super sophomore season

Lawrenceville >> Jimmie Taylor wants more.

Yes, Rider’s sophomore guard was pleased to hear he was recognized by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but that comes only in the form of a preseason award.

Little more than a pat on the back before tip-off.

“I feel like I can be better than that,” said Taylor, who was tabbed a third-team selection during the league’s preseason awards show broadcast Wednesday night on ESPN3. “I feel like I can get more recognition than that, but I know I’m going to have to prove that this year.”

Read more »

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rider tabbed 7th in MAAC preseason poll

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference announced its preseason awards Wednesday night in a televised show broadcast on ESPN3.

Rider was picked to finish seventh in the 11-team league.

The Broncs went 14-17 overall a year ago and 9-11 in the league, but slipped to eighth after a last-season skid.

Read more »

Monday, November 3, 2014

Koon suffers knee injury, out until second half of season

 Denton Koon plays defense against Rutgers/TRENTONIAN FILE PHOTO

The Princeton Tigers suffered a major blow Monday, when it was announced via press release that senior forward Denton Koon suffered a knee injury in practice Thursday and will be out until the second half of the season.

Koon was hampered by persistent knee injuries last season, appearing in just 18 games. As a sophomore, however, he started 24 of the Tigers 28 contests, averaging 10.5 points and 3.0 rebounds to earn an Honorable Mention All-Ivy selection.

When healthy, the 6-foot-8 Koon is one of the more versatile players in the league, particularly on the defensive end. Primarily a frontcourt player as a freshman, as a sophomore he started in the backcourt to give the Tigers a starting with four players over 6-7.

At media day Wednesday, coach Mitch Henderson said that Koon was healthy and sounded hopeful that he’d be a major contributor.

“We’ve been fortunate around here to have some really powerful offensive players, and Denton is no different, but I do think that he’s a very difficult matchup and presents a lot of problems for other teams,” Henderson said. “So, we need him to do things. We need him to score and we need him to slash to the rim.”

Without Koon, the Tigers have just one senior on the roster who has seen significant minutes. Guard Ben Hazel averaged 6.1 points in just over 23 minutes per game last season. Neither forward Dan Edwards or center Bobby Garbade have ever averaged more than four minutes per contest.

The first half of Princeton’s season includes nonconference games against UTEP, California and Wake Forest. The Tigers will also play their first Ivy League game before the winter exam break, hosting Penn Jan. 10.