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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

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rider at Canisius: What to watch for

Who: Rider (16-9, 10-4) at Canisius (12-11, 7-7).

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Koessler Athletic Center, Buffalo, New York.

Radio: 107.7 FM The Bronc.

Last Time Out: Rider def. Manhattan, 85-77 in OT;  Canisius lost to Monmouth, 44-40.

Background: The Broncs have won four of their last five and are 14-4 since coming back from the Orlando Classic. They embark on the Western New York trip this weekend, beginning Friday night against the Golden Griffins. Rider won the first meeting between the two,  59-46, in Lawrenceville.

Race to the finish: With six games left of the schedule, the Broncs have sole possession of second place. It’s unlikely they’ll catch Iona (12-2 in the league, but thanks to its sweep over Rider that’s essentially a three-game advantage) so Kevin Baggett’s club will be looking to tighten its grip on the second spot. Canisius is locked in a tight tussle with Quinnipiac, Saint Peter’s and Siena for the fifth spot. The top five get an extra day of rest while 6-11 play on opening night of the conference tournament.

Free Throw Woes: The Broncs’ biggest weakness has been from the foul line where they rank last in the MAAC at 60.6 percent. Yet they made clutch free throws the last two games. Teddy Okereafor (73.9 percent), the one reliable shooter, won the Fairfield game with two makes and sent the Manhattan game to OT by making two in the final seconds.

Thomas could play part: Baggett said forward Kahlil Thomas should be available against the Griffs. Thomas has been back at practice for two weeks now, although he missed the victories over Fairfield and Manhattan. The 6-7 sophomore has missed the last 13 games after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot against Morgan State on Dec. 18. "He fits big into our mix," Baggett said. "We have another guys who can come in rebound, defend, score in the paint for us. ... It's certainly a welcome addition to have him back." 

Scouting the Griffs: Canisius has dropped three straight and four of five. Jim Baron’s club lost second-leading scorer Phil Valenti to an ankle injury and he’s not expected to play Friday. Zach Lewis leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.2 points per game. He had 14 against Rider in the first meeting.

Up Next: The Broncs conclude the trip on Sunday afternoon against Niagara. Because of the MAAC’s unbalanced schedule Rider will meet the Purple Eagles twice in six days.


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