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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, February 19, 2015

Red-hot Rider poised to finish strong

Lawrenceville >> Kahlil Thomas had been out so long he was starting to get questions from his peers on campus about when he planned on returning.

After 13 games on the sideline because of a stress fracture in his left foot, Thomas returned for the Western New York trip, playing in a pair of Rider victories.

“People were always like, ‘We can’t wait for you to come back,’” Thomas said. “There was always a lot of that. I was going to make a shirt that said, ‘I don’t know, ask Jacquie (Henry). That’s my trainer.’”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore only played three minutes against Canisius in his first game action since Dec. 18 but was much better two days later, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in 17 minutes at Niagara.

“The first game (back) I didn’t play that well. I thought I wasn’t going to play that much,” Thomas said. “I know if I come in and work, I’ll be all right.”

It’s almost like Rider’s added a new player just in time for the final two weeks of play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

“I’ve never seen a guy who sits out so long come back with so much energy,” sophomore guard Jimmie Taylor said. “You would think he would be out of shape and not able to play, but he came back with so much energy.”

With four regular-season games remaining, Rider (18-9, 12-4) is in excellent position to wrap up a top-five seed, meaning it would need to win three games instead of four to claim the league’s NCAA tournament berth — a stage it hasn’t been on since the 1993-94 season.

The second-place Broncs host Quinnipiac (14-11, 8-8) on Thursday night (7 p.m., 107.7 FM The Bronc) at Alumni Gymnasium.

Rider’s been exceptional in close games this season, posting an 8-3 mark in contests decided in overtime or by six points or less and 15-1 in games it has led with five minutes remaining.

“You have to know how to do it,” Taylor said. “It’s more of a will than a skill. It becomes a habit, but you can’t get out of those habits because once you do, it’s hard to get back into it.”

Thursday’s contest is likely to be a tight affair. The Broncs clipped the Bobcats, 56-53, in the first meeting and Quinnipiac is fighting for one of those top-five seeds.

The Bobcats average 45.5 rebounds per game, which leads the nation. They rank second in the country on the offensive glass, hauling down 16.2 per contest.

“They’re physical and you have to be ready for that,” head coach Kevin Baggett said. “They’re going to throw it up to the glass and go get it. That’s what they do.”

Baggett’s group is battled tested, and right now Rider’s the best ticket in the state.

The Broncs have won four straight and are 16-4 in their last 20 games.

“I think there is a little buzz, but I think it should be a bigger buzz,” Baggett said. “Our fans, the last home game, really came out and I’m hoping tomorrow night they can pack this gym. I know it’s something special. They need to come in and see it for themselves.”

Because this team is pretty darn good.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to tell people, but we still have to show it,” Taylor said. “Instead of telling people before the season, during the season we have to show them.”


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