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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

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.

Impaired by the Phog: The Broncs ran into a buzzsaw against an angry Jayhawks squad which had six days to stew over a 32-point loss to Kentucky. In that game, Kansas scored 40 points, but against the Broncs, it put up 51 in the first half on 66.7 percent shooting. Coach Kevin Baggett wasn’t happy with the way his team competed, too easily being carved up for layups or dunks.

Baggett’s say: “We didn’t start the game the right way. We didn’t compete. We talked about the buzzsaw we were walking into.”

X-man arrives: The lone bright spot in the loss was the play of forward Xavier Lundy off the bench. The sophomore scored a team-high 15 points — all in the second half. With starters Matt Lopez and Kahlil Thomas ineffective and in foul trouble, Lundy provided a spark when Baggett went with a smaller lineup. If the bigs get off to a slow start again, Lundy could be on the floor quickly. Baggett's small-ball lineup would feature Lundy and Shawn Valentine (both 6-7) on the floor together.

Scouting the Spartans: Michigan State is led by the duo of Travis Trice (18 ppg) and Branden Dawson (15 ppg). Trice, in particular, is a statsheet stuffer, also averaging seven assists and four rebounds per contest. He’s also an above average 3-point shooter, connecting at 48.1 percent (13 for 27). Dawson missed the victory over Santa Clara due to illness. Junior Denzel Valentine — no relation to Rider’s Shawn — is another player to watch, the junior averages 10.8 point per game.

Orlando Field: After battling with Michigan State, Rider will face either Georgia Tech or Marquette. The Yellow Jackes (3-0) and Golden Eagles (2-2) also tangle on Thanksgiving. Expect Georgia Tech to be the favorite after Marquette, which has already lost to Omaha, narrowly escaped a stunning defeat against NJIT on Monday. Also in competing in the Orlando Classic; Kansas (2-1), Rhode Island (3-0), Santa Clara (2-2) and Tennessee (1-1).


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