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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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.
He’s now at his third school following stops at La Salle and Utah Sate, and in his fifth and final year of eligibility. He’s only appeared in 32 games.

Redshirt, injuries, eligibility issues and bad luck have all conspired in keeping Lopez off the court.

Rider thought it was going to have Lopez last year when he transferred in from Utah State to be nearer a sick grandparent, but the NCAA denied the school’s request for a legislative relief waiver, citing that the grandparents weren’t Lopez’s immediate family.

So he had to sit (he was allowed to practice with the team, but ended up injuring his shoulder).

“It’s so frustrating that I have no interest in talking about it,” Lopez said. “I’m here now. I’m on the floor. It’s just been a headache. I think finally I’m where I want to be and with the guys I want to be with.”

Head coach Kevin Baggett is counting on him.

He’s put in a new offensive system geared to play inside-out and get the skilled Lopez involved.

“Lopez is a very good post player,” Baggett said, following the Broncs’ 62-51 exhibition victory over Kutztown. “We have to do a better job of getting him the ball and understanding that he can score, pass and do a lot of different things. We have to make sure we throw the ball in the post.”

Lopez gained valuable experience over the summer competing for the Puerto Rican national team. He was part of the country’s Centrobasket side, which finished second and qualified for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

Lopez played six games in that tournament, averaging 4.7 points in 16.2 minutes.

Although he was left off Puerto Rico’s World Cup roster, Lopez said the experience has made him better.

“I’m fortunate to have the opportunities I’ve had in the summer playing with the Puerto Rican national team,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve had a college jersey on, but in the summertime I was playing against guys who were playing professionally so that’s been helping me get better, expanding my game. I haven’t really been sitting on the sidelines just watching. I’ve had a chance to play against some good guys.”

Baggett noted early on in practice he thought the international experience created a more confident player.

“We’re going to see how he pans out here,” the third-year boss said. “I think he has a chance to be pretty good. … We’re going to need him. He’s got to play for us. There’s no hiding.”

Lopez understands that better than most. He’s had enough disappointment.

Now it’s time to play.

“I have one year to win,” Lopez said, “and that’s a big thing.”


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home