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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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rider's Kahlil Thomas on verge of signature game

Kahlil Thomas is coming off a strong game in win over Hartford. (Photo by John Blaine)

Lawrenceville >> Kahlil Thomas is ready to break through.

Rider’s sophomore forward hasn’t had that take-notice game yet, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t close.

Thomas put in his best shift of the season in Saturday’s win against Hartford, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds, leaving him just short of the double-double that alludes him.

“I’m feeling like I’m coming along a lot more now,” Thomas said Wednesday after practice. “I had injuries and getting my wisdom teeth pulled, it took a while, but I feel like I’m getting there.”

The 6-foot-7 Thomas leads the Broncs in rebounding, hauling in 4.9 boards per contest. He’s teamed up with 7-footer Matt Lopez (10.9 points, 4.8 rebounds) to give Rider a formidable frontcourt.

“Matt and I connect real well with the high-low game,” Thomas said. “Me passing it to him, I like that a lot.”

Head coach Kevin Baggett wants Thomas to fill the void vacated when Danny Stewart graduated. But those are big shoes to fill since Stewart finished his career 13th all time in scoring and second in rebounds.

“He’s not totally ready to do that at this point, and Daniel wasn’t ready to be as good as he was after his freshman year,” Baggett said. “It’s just maturity. It’s starting to come. He’s starting to play better.”

Baggett said Thomas has stopped settling for jump shots and started being more aggressive.

“If he just changes his focus a little more to defending and rebounds, that will help him, even with his scoring,” Baggett said.

Then he might even get that elusive double-double.

“I’ll get there soon,” Thomas said, laughing. “I’ll get there real soon.”

Okereafor’s clutch day

Even though he was having a lousy game shooting, Teddy Okereafor still had the ball in his hands
with the game on the line against Hartford.

Okereafor connected on the game-winning basket with 10 seconds remaining for a 63-61 Broncs win.

“I wasn’t shooting the ball great so I was trying to facilitate more,” Okereafor said. “At the end of the game, coach kept me in and I’m expected to make plays and lead the team, so I have to take that shot if I’m open. I’m going to take that shot.”

“It gave me confidence to know that even if he’s struggling, you can still count on him to make the big shot,” Baggett said.

Baggett is aiming for more consistency from his guards. Okereafor in particular has been all or nothing, putting up scoring games of 29 and 28 points as well as four games of four or fewer.

“My biggest concern going into the season was our post guys and they seem to have stabilized everything,” Baggett said. “I would like to get a little more consistency from our guards — Jimmie (Taylor), Zed (Sadler) and Teddy for that matter.”

Morgan State up next

Rider hosts Morgan State Thursday (7:30 p.m., 107.7 FM The Bronc) in the second game of a women’s/men’s doubleheader at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Bronc women open against UMBC at 5 p.m.
Rider (5-6) has bounced back from a four-game losing streak by winning three of its last four.

The Bears (2-8) are coming off a 63-62 win at the buzzer against UC Irvine. Senior guard Blake Bozeman — the son of coach Todd Bozeman — averages 13.3 points to lead the MEAC school.

“It’s one of those games, too, where guys have a tendency to look at the record and say, ‘2-8, they’re not very good,’ but they don’t delve into the details of our opponent like we do as coaches,” Baggett said. “We talk about respecting our opponent. This is a really good team and they had a big win last night and they’ve got some momentum coming in here, as well.”

The Broncs could be without reserve forward Xavier Lundy, whom Baggett said is questionable with a shoulder contusion he suffered diving for a loose ball against Hartford.


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