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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

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.

“I’m not as much worried about the offense,” Baggett said. “We’ll play better on the offensive end. I’m worried about the other end. We have to play better defensively.”

The stat sheet tells you that the Bears only shot 35.7 percent and had 13 turnovers, but Baggett thought Rider gambled too much and was left exposed.

The Broncs trailed for the majority of the game and didn’t grab their first lead until the 9:39 mark of the second half.

Even then they didn’t put Kutztown away until outscoring the visitors 10-2 over the final 5:14.

Kahlil Thomas led Rider with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Matt Lopez added nine and six boards.

Jimmie Taylor, the Broncs’ top returning scorer, tallied eight points and didn’t score until there was 6:48 remaining.

Rider had 14 turnovers and shot 4 of 14 from beyond the arc.

“We still got a bunch of guys learning one another and where to find guys,” Baggett said. “It’s a process. This is the first of many. I think guys will settle in and understand where guys are and what guys can do.”

Offensively, the biggest problem wasn’t getting enough touches for the 7-footer Lopez, who is in his only year of eligibility.

“It’s an issue we need to feel out,” Lopez said. “I have to be getting guys open so I have to pick and choose when to hold the block.”

“We need to make sure we’re playing inside-out,” Baggett said. “That’s where I want to go with the ball.”

Like when the coach came out of halftime and called for a high-low between Thomas and Lopez, which resulted in a layup for Lopez.

“Lopez is a very good post player,” Baggett said. “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.”

At the end of the day, this gives Baggett and his staff a tape to look at ahead of Friday’s season opener at Princeton.

“We can kind of shake the cobwebs off a little bit,” Lopez said. “It’s a new offense so it’s nice to see things against a team that doesn’t know what’s coming. Sometimes we get used to guarding and seeing the same things in practice.”

Lundy starts

Baggett handed a start to sophomore forward Xavier Lundy in place of Thomas.
Thomas, another sophomore, hasn’t consistently practiced because of a high ankle sprain and oral surgery.

“I tried to prepare myself in the offseason to be able to come in a play more minutes,” Lundy said.

Lundy said he needed to get better defensively.

“That’s where everything starts for our team,” he said.

Lundy finished with seven points and three rebounds in 10 minutes.

Williams to redshirt

Freshman forward Josh Williams will have to redshirt this season with a wrist injury, Baggett said.
Williams, who is from Trenton and played at Notre Dame High, has a cast on his left wrist, the same on he injured and had surgery on in the offseason.

Freshman Kenny Grant, who is still working his way back from offseason knee surgery, also didn’t play, but Baggett said he expects him to be ready at some point this season.


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