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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 1, 2014

Orlando Classic rewind; looking ahead

Bad week for Kevin Baggett and his Broncs. (AP Photo)

This past week was one Kevin Baggett and his Rider Broncs would rather forget. The Orlando Classic (at Kansas in an out-bracket game, Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Santa Clara as it turned out) was always going to be difficult, but the Broncs come back to Lawrenceville having lost all four games. What went wrong? How can they get it fixed?

1. The guards must play better: In four contests (we're including the game at Kansas for this exercise), the starting backcourt of Teddy Okereafor, Zedric Sadler and Jimmie Taylor combined  to shoot 26.4 percent (28 for 106). Only Taylor's 18 points on 7 of 15 against Santa Clara saved those numbers from being worse. That's not going to get it done. What's more, the team's 3-point shooting over this four-game losing streak has dipped significantly. Rider only made 16 of 77 from beyond the arc for 20.7 percent. For the year, the Broncs are chucking at 29.9 percent (40 for 134 -- that ranks 237 out of 279 Division I schools with at least 5 makes per game). Note: Opponents are shooting 37.1 percent (but that's a different discussion).

"After you miss a shot, you have to believe the next one is going to go in," Baggett said following the loss to Santa Clara. "I don't think our guys believe that right now."

One reason for the poor shooting, is this team lacks a pure shooter. A year ago when Rider shot 39.7 from long range but had a pair of above-average shooters in Anthony Myles (37.7 percent) and Tommy Pereira (39.8 percent). Both are gone and haven't really been replaced. Graduate student Anthony D'Orazio (2 for 10) doesn't look like a spot-up shooter, while Okereafor, Sadler and Taylor are all streaky from distance. Khalil Alford's game is more suited for mid-range, although he can step out and make shots.

2. Matt Lopez came alive: Baggett said he wants to play inside-out, meaning Lopez, a 7-footer, has to get touches. The Broncs did a good job getting him the ball as he was the one player who turned in a good tournament. Lopez had at least 13 points in all three games played in Florida. If Lopez plays well, he attracts attention and the defense either sinks in or doubles him, leaving shooters open on the perimeter. Rider's problem is making said shots once the ball rotates to the open player.

3. Don't judge this team based off a bad week: From Day 1 there was a possibility this group could have a sub-500 record and be a decent team because of the schedule. Nobody expected Rider to take victories over Kansas or Michigan State (the margins of defeat and how quickly those games got away were alarming) and even a win over Georgia Tech -- a school likely to be on the NCAA tournament bubble -- was  a stretch. The loss to Santa Clara was bad, especially the inability to make open shots and defend the only two players on the opposition with a prayer of making a basket.

(Thought a key sequence in the loss to Georgia Tech came with Rider trailing 56-52 at the 2:07 mark after Lopez made a layup. The Broncs got a good defensive possession, forcing the Yellow Jackets into a contested corner 3, only to get burned on the weak-side rebound. Okereafor didn't get a box out on Marcus Georges-Hunt, who grabbed the rebound and got fouled by Okereafor. Just a killer momentum play).

Now at 2-5 (boy the Broncs must be kicking themselves for that loss to a struggling Princeton), Rider comes back home Wednesday against winless Central Connecticut State (0-6). A win -- there's no excuse for a loss here -- puts them back at 3-5 with a tough two-game MAAC stretch against Siena (home Sunday) and Iona (away next Wednesday).

Speaking of the MAAC, only Iona (4-2) and Quinnipiac (3-2) are over .500 as of Monday afternoon.

4. Nice job Lynn Milligan: The Rider women got their first win, 59-56, in overtime against Old Dominion on the road Sunday afternoon. The Broncs have had a tough time scoring, but got enough offense to snap a four-game skid to start the year. Robin Perkins, the team's most capable scorer, put up 18 points and Emily Fazzini finally put her shooting boots on with 13. Freshman JessieWallace had nine points and 12 rebounds.


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