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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, January 19, 2015

Okereafor bounces back, more MAAC leftovers

Teddy Okereafor scored 16 points and had six steals in win over Manhattan. (Jackie Schear Photo)

Some extra thought from Rider's 82-79 overtime victory over Manhattan on Sunday. With the win, the Broncs improved to 12-7 overall and 6-2 in the MAAC, meaning they are in a three-way tie with Iona and Monmouth for first. Rider has lost to both so it needs to beat the Gaels Thursday at Alumni Gymnasium.

>> Teddy Okereafor put in his first good performance in weeks, finishing with a team-high 16 points, seven assists and six steals. Okereafor was credited with his sixth steal when Manhattan's Emmy Andujar lost control of the ball driving to the hoop for a winning shot attempt in overtime.

"I just talked to Teddy about having a clear mind," coach Kevin Baggett said. "I think he was pressing himself a little bit because he knows he's one of our better plays. He's struggled of late, and again, this is the first time he's played this kind of minutes. He's understanding the MAAC, understanding what it's like to be in these kinds of games now. He's one of our big-time players, and he showed up today."

Okereafor had been mired in a stretch of six games in which he reached double figures just once and was shooting 24.6 percent.

"You have to believe in yourself," Okereafor said. "The coaches have been telling me that the whole time, 'stay confident, stay aggressive.' That's what I kept doing. If I miss five shots in a row, I'm taking a sixth one because I believe I can make it. Having that mental toughness means we're going to make plays when it counts."

>> The charity stripe has been anything but for the Broncs as they rank last in the MAAC in free throw percentage at 60.9 percent following an 8-for-15 performance against Manhattan. If they don't find a fix, free throws are going to bite them in the butt and cost them a game.

>> Rider did a decent job against Manhattan's pressure by turning the ball over just 13 times (four of those came on its first five possessions). The Jaspers employ 40 minutes -- in Sunday's case 45 minutes -- of full-court pressure, which turns into an aggressive, extended zone in the halfcourt.

"Poise," said Baggett when asked for the key to breaking the pressure. "Keep your dribble, don't panic when you're double-teamed, find the next guy that's open and then move the ball from there."

The Broncs will face a similar style Thursday when they host Iona. The Gaels won the first meeting between the two teams even though they were missing David Laury by pushing the tempo and negating Rider's size advantage inside. Iona is unlikely to have Isaiah Williams, who missed Sunday's loss to Canisius with a foot injury.
"We're not the same team," Baggett said. "I know they're down, having lost Isaiah Williams for a little bit, but still they are really good. They are the team to beat in this league. Manhattan won (the conference tournament) last year, but those guys were right up there."

MAAC Standings

1. Iona (13-6, 6-2
2. Rider (12-7, 6-2)
3. Monmouth (9-9, 6-2)
4. Canisius (10-7, 5-3)
5. Manhattan (8-9, 5-3)
6. Siena (7-10, 4-4)
7. Fairfield (6-12, 4-4)
8. Quinnipiac (9-8, 3-5)
9. Saint Peter's (9-10, 3-5)
10. Niagara (3-14, 2-6)
11. Marist (1-17, 0-8)


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