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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, January 7, 2016

Iona's home advantage tough to crack for MAAC opponents

Iona should probably just go ahead and hang a banner outside its home arena that reads ‘Welcome to Fortress Hynes.’

The Gaels have been so dominant inside the Hynes Athletic Center, visiting teams rarely win in New Rochelle.

Just how good?

Consider this: Iona has won 24 straight games at home and 40 of the last 43. Canisius was the last MAAC school to win there during the 2013-14 season. The Gaels are 43-4 at home vs. the MAAC under sixth-year coach Tim Cluess.

That doesn’t bode well, on paper at least, for Rider (4-10, 0-3), which is still searching for its first conference victory when the two meet Thursday night in New York (8 p.m., ESPN3, 107.7 FM The Bronc).

The Broncs, like much of the MAAC, haven’t had much success against the Gaels (7-6, 4-0) recently. Iona has won 10 of the last 12 meetings, including knocking Rider out of the MAAC Tournament on two occasions.

Rider, however, is one of four league opponents to breach the Hynes fortress under Cluess, winning there in January of 2011.

“We got to come out swinging from the start,” said Broncs guard Teddy Okereafor, who is coming off a career-best 30 points in the loss to Quinnipiac on Monday. “We’ve got a big game against Iona, and they are No. 1 in the league. We definitely can’t come out half-hearted at all because they’ll definitely punch you in the mouth first. We got to come out with the same intensity, match their energy and make sure we’re ready to play.”

Iona has won three straight and this is the second of a four-game homestand. The Gaels host Marist on Saturday and then have a huge ESPNU showdown against Monmouth next Friday.

Not coincidentally, Iona’s current winning run started when senior guard A.J. English returned to the lineup after missing six games following surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand.

English, the MAAC preseason Player of the Year, averages 23.1 points per game and is shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc.

The Gaels won’t have sharpshooter Schadrac Casimir, who is out for the season with a hip injury, although Kelvin Amayo has returned from an injury to take part in their previous two games.

Rider hasn’t had much luck this season at all. Coach Kevin Baggett’s club lost two players for the season due to injury (Kenny Grant and Anthony Durham) and had to scratch Khalil Alford at the last minute Monday night because of an illness.

Baggett hopes to have his full compliment of available players on Thursday night.
The task is hard enough with a healthy roster.


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