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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, December 8, 2014

MAAC notebook: Siena's depth tested; Washington injury update; Early league results

Rider's Matt Lopez hauls in a rebound against Siena. Gregg Slaboda Photo.

Since he's not coaching in the NBA, Jimmy Patsos can't sign a free agent to assist his depleted frontcourt.

Having already lost Imoh Silas before the season, the Saints suffered another blow when starting forward Brett Bisping dislocated his toe in Friday's victory over Quinnipiac. Patsos said on Monday's conference call he doesn't expect Bisping, who was averaging 8.7 points and 4.7 rebounds, back until mid-January and that was being hopeful.

In the meantime, he'll have to make do with sophomore Javion Ogunyemi and freshman Willem Brandwijk.

"I think maybe it's time for our seniors to step up a little bit emotionally," Patsos said after Siena fell to Rider, 80-68, on Sunday afternoon. "If you look at our team, we're really young. I thought Javion, the way he played Friday night (against Quinnipiac), was unbelievable and then they ran into another big guy and maybe they need a little help."

The Broncs won the rebounding battle, 39-25 on Sunday, also collecting 16 offensive boards that led to 21 second-chance points.

"Rebounds are going to be an issue with Bisping and Silas gone," Patsos said. "Somebody else has to step up and I think it has to be by committee. I know they out-rebounded us by 15. I've been in the MAAC 10 years, that's not going to help us win games."

Still, Patsos was happy with an opening-weekend split.

"1-1 is not bad," Siena's second-year boss said. "This isn't a disastrous loss. We have to learn from it. We aren't going to sign a free agent, so I figured we would have everybody step up."

Washington could return for Saint Peter's this week

SPU coach John Dunne said senior guard Desi Washington could play Wednesday when the Peacocks (3-6) host Princeton (3-6).

Washington hurt his wrist during an opening-night loss to Brown and hasn't played since. Dunne said he's been doing some shooting and ball-handling on the side and is expected to return to full practice, perhaps as early as Monday.

Without him, the Peacocks, who many predicted to finish in the top 5, have lost four games by a combined eight points (two of those were conference contests). The other defeat was a nine-point setback against La Salle.

"When there are higher expectations for you and then injury to one of your best players, you have to battle through that frustration," Dunne said.

SPU relies heavily on senior forward Marvin Dominique (15.9 points, 9.2 rebounds). Dunne was asked if Washington's injury has affected Dominique.

"I don't know if it's extra pressure from Desi going down," Dunne said. "Marvin is an extremely talented individual. This is just his second year playing large minutes and being the focal point. Just because he's talented doesn't mean there isn't a learning curve."

Upside down MAAC at start

The gregarious Patsos predicted the MAAC would come down to the final week in February and reaffirmed that on Monday's call, calling the league "wide-open" and setting up for a "wild year."

It's hard to argue with him after the first round of games (Rider and Iona meet Wednesday to bring each schools total to two games played).

Canisius and Fairfield -- both selected in the preseason to finish in the bottom three -- are 2-0 as is Monmouth, which surprised Iona Sunday in West Long Branch.

Hawks coach King Rice did his best to temper the early league success.

"When you win the first one, then you start getting a little crazy and think you can beat Iona," Rice said. "It's time for our program to start winning some games. To be 2-0 in great, but there's a long season to go. Usually, the team there at the start isn't there at the end. Hopefully, we can change that."

Meanwhile, Sydney Johnson, trying to rebound from a seven-win campaign at Fairfield, has picked up impressive victories over Manhattan and Quinnipiac.

"When people think they know you, you kind of want to say that's not who I am," said the former Princeton coach. "The guys think we're a little better than the bottom of the league. When someone doesn't know you and wants to label you, you want to shed that label."

The Bobcats debut in the MAAC last year with a third-place finish, but are off to a winless start following defeats to Siena and Fairfield.

"I don't think the fans realize the highs and lows the kids go through in the course of the season because they're on display," coach Tom Moore said. "You have to win every game because if you don't, you're open to criticism."

Conference play doesn't tip back off  until after the New Year, but 2014-15 is setting up for a mad dash to the finish in February.

MAAC Standings
Canisius (4-3, 2-0)
Monmouth (4-4, 2-0)
Fairfield (4-5, 2-0)
Rider (4-5, 1-0)
Siena (3-4, 1-1)
Manhattan (2-5, 1-1)
Niagara (1-5, 1-1)
Iona (4-3, 0-1)
Quinnipiac (3-4, 0-2)
Saint Peter's (3-6, 0-2)
Marist (1-7, 0-2)


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