inicio mail me! sindicaci;ón

Know! Your! Foe! - Rider.

Next up on Princeton's seemingly endless road trip is the shortest distance they could travel to face another Division I opponent. The Tigers make their initial visit to the Broncs' Zoo on Wednesday. In advance of the first meeting between these two schools since 2002, I exchanged emails with college basketball writer Kyle Franko from the Trentonian for the newest edition of Know! Your! Foe!.

If you cover a team the Tigers will face down the line, let us know. It would be great to talk with you.

How surprising is Rider's 1-9 start? I had expected them to be a step below Iona and Fairfield in the MAAC but the non-conference record to date doesn't provide much confidence in that expectation.

The record is disappointing. The early season schedule (Robert Morris, Pitt, Drexel, La Salle, JMU, Florida) has been really tough and you can explain some of those defeats. The surprising thing is the way they were run off the floor by Manhattan and Marist in their first two MAAC games. Those two teams won a combined 12 games a year ago and Marist scored 95 points in a 20-point win. Tommy Dempsey thought his team would be hitting its stride right around this time but that’s not the case. They don’t defend, don’t rebound, turn the ball over and lack leadership. The graduation of Justin Robinson and Mike Ringgold hurt this team more than anyone expected.

Novar Gadson, a First-Team All-MAAC selection in the preseason, has struggled to get going as well. He had microfracture surgery on his knee in the offseason and he insists he's 100 percent but that hasn't looked the case. He's hesitant to mix it up for rebounds and fades from games in the second half. Jeff Jones, a transfer from Virginia, was expected to take shoulder a lot of the scoring with Gadson, and while he's averaging 14 points per game, his impact has been rather muted. The good news is he's coming off a 20-point performance against Florida and looks to be getting more comfortable after sitting out a year.

Looking at the numbers, it appears Rider is a perfectly acceptable offensive team who has been really poor defensively. Is that fair to say?

Without a doubt, they’ve struggled on the defensive end. They’re giving up 82.3 points per game and opponents are shooting over 48 percent against them. There have been some games this year where teams have shot the lights out against them (Marist 13 of 20 and JMU 15 of 21 from beyond the arc come to mind) and that happens from time to time. But when it happens on a consistent basis, you have to look in the mirror. A lot of those 3-pointers have been uncontested because the guards struggle to stop dribble penetration. What a lot of the defensive issues boil down to is effort, and there have been times this season when the effort hasn’t been there.

Rebounding also appears to be a big issue. Rider is 321th in the nation on the offensive boards and gives up a ton of second chances. How much of a surprise has this been based on the roster they have?

That’s not the biggest surprise. Dempsey had an idea they were going to have to fight through that this year. They gave up 21 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second-chance points against Division-II East Stroudsburg in an exhibition game. It hasn’t helped that injuries have limited 6-foot-10 Dera Nd-Ezuma and the NCAA didn’t clear 6-foot-9 Junior Fortunat until last week.

The Broncs have been playing at an accelerated tempo. Are they going too fast with the ball?

At times they are. Dempsey’s always played an up-tempo style and likes to get out and run but it’s the careless turnovers that hurt. They’re averaging just over 15 turnovers per game, which ranks them in the bottom half of the country, and too many of those have led to easy points for the other team.

What, if anything, does freshman big man Junior Fortunat's recent clearance to play by the NCAA mean for this team?

He’s 6-foot-9 and gives them some much-needed size up front. He played 18 minutes against Florida and grabbed a couple of rebounds. As he continues to get acclimated to the pace of the game, he’s going to giving them a boost defensively and on the boards.

Is there some sort of law stating that Rider has to have a player with the last name Thompson on their team at all times?

Haha. Unfortunately, the current one is not related to Jason and Ryan.

Fill in the blank(s): Rider doubles their win total this season if...

The ball breaks its way. Everything that could go wrong this season has, and right now, this team just needs something good to happen even if it’s a fluky bounce of the ball.

Princeton hoists an imaginary "Best of Mercer County" trophy if...

It continues to throw the ball to Ian Hummer inside. Hummer is one of the best mid-major forwards in the country. He was the best player on the floor in the win over Rutgers and Rider’s inside players are going to struggle with his strength.

Finally, please plug what you do and where people can read you doing it!

Kyle Franko covers Rider University and the MAAC for The Trentonian. Follow him on Twitter.

Thanks, Kyle. I appreciate your time and your answers.

George Clark said,

December 13, 2011 @ 10:13 am

Informative stuff...Rider is a dangerous foe with not much to lose and a great deal to gain in a battle with its neighbor from the Ivy League. Coach Dempsey is a native of Dunmore, PA., which is very near my home. He had an excellent record at two local small colleges before taking the Broncs position. His cousin, Jackie Dempsey,'98, played quarterback for the Tigers.

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.