Category Archives: Rider

Rider’s Kevin Baggett on First Recruiting Class

After winning 19 games in his first season, head coach Kevin Baggett’s plan for the future is beginning to take shape at Rider.

Baggett, former assistant to Tommy Dempsey, tweaked the Broncs style including more emphasis on the defensive end and it paid off. The Broncs were the only team to sweep the Buffalo swing to end the MAAC regular season and they finished second in the MAAC standings, their best finish since 2008.

The Broncs future includes a freshmen class of four as well as two transfers who plan on sitting out the 2013-14 season. Three of the team’s four incoming freshmen come from Florida getting Jimmy Taylor, Brandon Channer and headlining the class with Kahlil Thomas.

Baggett’s first recruiting coup began in November when Thomas, a top 20 recruit out of the state of Florida, signed a letter of intent during the early signing period.

“We’re a little weak in the post area, he certainly is going to be a young man that I’m gong to try and lean on and count on early,” Baggett said of Thomas. “He plays so hard. He’s got a high motor, very good defensively, he’s got a great knack for rebounding. He just finds ways to score around the basket as well. He’s still a guy that needs to still develop his offense, but as far as the other parts of his game, he’s very talented and I think he’s got a huge upside for us.”

Baggett reached into Rider’s stomping grounds of New Jersey to grab Xavier Lundy who scored over 2,000 points at Paulsboro high school, winning two South Jersey group 1 titles.

“He’s a scorer and it’s just a matter of just continuing to develop his offense,” Baggett said. “He’s got to develop shooting more consistent which is something that he’s working on this summer. He’s another young man that we’re going to count on, very athletic gets up and down, certainly will fit in the way we want to play.”

Despite Baggett’s changes to push the tempo and defense, his team ranked in the middle of the conference last season in adjusted tempo. Baggett said he would like to get up and down more and said Lundy figures to be a good piece of his pressing style.

One weakness the Broncs will have to solve to be close to the top of the league is their struggle with turnovers. Rider ranked eighth amongst MAAC teams in turnover percentage and getting incoming freshman Jimmy Taylor will give the Broncs a true point guard.

“Jimmy is one of those guys I can’t wait to get in because the one thing I’m excited about is the fact that guys are going to need to run with him and he’s going to get you the ball in the right spot,” Baggett said. “A guy like Jimmy who is used to playing the point will be good because he understands what we’re trying to get done. I’ve had a chance to watch him play quite a bit and understand that his first value is going to be trying to get everybody else involved.”

“I’m excited about him having a chance to come in and guys play with him and understand ‘If I run with this guy he’s going to get us the ball at the right places and at the right times.’ We haven’t had a guy like that in here in a little bit. Jon Thompson was good, he was very good, but he’s a combo guard who did a good job taking care of the ball, getting us in our sets and getting the ball up and down, but not as much as I would like to have gotten the ball up and down.”

Finally the Broncs stayed in Florida to get Brandon Channer, after he spent one prep school year in Tampa, who Baggett said will be a scoring combo guard who can provide some help on the defensive end.

“He can do a number of things,” Baggett said. “Combo guard, can really handle the ball. He’s going to bring that toughness to us.”

Baggett said that he was concerned this past season with replacing the scoring from the 2012 season; a combined 1,095 points scored between seniors Jeff Jones, Novar Gadson and Brandon Penn.

“We’re going to hang our hat defensively and guarding guys. We just need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and want to score more than what we did last year,” Baggett said. “We graduated a lot of points Novar Gadson, Brandon Penn, Jeff Jones, so this past season the team that we had wasn’t as much of a scoring team as it was a team that was just a solid team that we had to find ways to manufacture how we were going to win. Winning those 19 games, again we’re going to hang our hat defensively on guarding guys every night in case we can’t score, but getting better at being able to score the ball as well.”

Juniors Teddy Okereafor and Skylar Scrivano, from VCU and Columbia respectively, are expected to sit out and play during the 2014-15 season. Okereafor started one game for the Rams and scored 42 points in 265 minutes played last season as a sophomore. Scriviano started one game for the Lions and scored 21 points in 82 minutes played as a sophomore.

Ryan Restivo covers Stony Brook, Hofstra and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo. For more on Rider’s non-conference schedule, check out the non-conference schedule tracker.

Rider’s Rowe Leaving for FIU, Griffin Promoted to Assistant

Rider assistant coach Louis Rowe will be leaving the school to join Anthony Evans at Florida International University, head coach Kevin Baggett confirmed.

Baggett said he will promote director of basketball operations John Griffin to the third assistant coach position and bring on Rider alum Paul Johnson to become the director of basketball operations. Continue reading

Nurideen Lindsey to Leave Rider to Pursue Professional Opportunities

Rider junior Nurideen Lindsey will be leaving the program, withdrawing from school to pursue professional opportunities, head coach Kevin Baggett said.

Lindsey and Baggett met to discuss the situation multiple times over the last two weeks with Lindsey finalizing his decision to withdraw from school so that he could go play basketball professionally.

The St. John’s transfer Lindsey received a hardship waiver in October so that he could play right away. He started 30 of 32 games he played for the Broncs and averaged eight points per game in his only season for the team.

“He’s in a hardship situation where he’s wanting to support his family,” Baggett said. “This was a thing that he wanted to do from day one. This was something that he had wanted to come and try and have a great year so he could try and turn professional to be able to support his family.”

“That still is his ultimate goal. It’s not because he doesn’t want to be here, it’s more just from his standpoint trying to support his mom [who] has been very sick and that’s why he got cleared to play this year.”

Baggett said when he met Lindsey after he transferred from St. John’s last season under head coach Tommy Dempsey, Lindsey said his goal was to impress for a season and go pro so that he could help his mother who is sick.

“He said that’s what his ultimate goal was after we had met originally,” Baggett said. “His ultimate goal was to hopefully come and have a great year and be able to turn professional and go on to be able to support his family. That’s the dream that he’s had and that’s the dream that he’s continuing to seek.”

Lindsey was second on the team with 41 steals and shot 43.7% from the field for the season; however, Baggett said he believed Lindsey had higher expectations for himself this season.

“He was great,” Baggett said. “He was a great teammate and I hope that he would have had a better year. It wasn’t because he didn’t try, it wasn’t because he was a bad kid.”

“I didn’t have any problems with Nurideen Lindsey at all, he was a great teammate, he did a great job, came to practice and really worked hard. I thought he got better, I just think that he just didn’t have the year he thought he was going to have or me for that matter.”

Rider will absorb a hit in their NCAA-instituted Academic Progress Rate for Lindsey leaving to go pro as he withdraws from school. This will be the first time under APR rules that Rider has had a player leave to pursue professional opportunities before their senior year. Jason Thompson played all four years at Rider before going to the Sacramento Kings as the 12th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

Ryan Restivo covers Stony Brook, Hofstra and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo.

Rider and Canisius Both on the Road In CIT?

It looks like both Rider and Canisius are going to be on the road for the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. We know Rider’s destination already. The Broncs are heading down to play East Carolina. The one up in the air is Canisius. Reading the tea leaves, it makes most sense for the Golden Griffs to go to Youngstown State, but no official game has been announced.

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Fairfield Upsets Rider 43-42 in Defensive-Minded Battle

SPRINGFIELD – Coming into the third Quarterfinal at the MassMutual Center, the MAAC was featuring two of its best defensive teams in seventh-seeded Fairfield and second-seeded Rider.

Whenever Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson needed his team to make plays, they managed to get the critical bounces in a 43-42 victory over second-seeded Rider Saturday.

“We played motivated basketball,” Johnson said. ” [Needham, Nickerson] have been a joy to coach and they willed us to a win.”

“Derek was outstanding in terms of literally willing us to a win and Colin’s been remarkable. We just don’t want to go home and we are doing our best to stay in Springfield for as long as possible so it’s pretty fun right now.”

Senior Colin Nickerson inbounded the ball with 6.8 seconds left, in what was likely the last milliseconds he threw one up for his teammate Derek Needham covered by Zedric Sadler.

Sadler’s back hand touched the ball and a scramble ensued but Fairfield found the ball and passed it to Needham where he was fouled with 3.3 seconds left. His two free throws gave the Stags a 43-40 lead.

Rider’s ensuing inbounds Nurideen Lindsey had the ball at half court and was fouled by Coleman Johnson with 1.2 left. Lindsey made the first but accidentally made the second to cut the lead to 43-42.

Rider head coach Kevin Baggett said that they were planning for Lindsey to miss the second free throw but he accidentally made it.

“We were trying to,” Baggett said of planning for a Lindsey miss. “He just made it.”

Needham returned to the line with 0.9 seconds left, missing both and a desperation heave from Anthony Myles was released after the buzzer sounded to give Fairfield the 43-42 victory in the MAAC Quarterfinals.

“The week we had off from the MAAC tournament I was getting up shots up at night,” Needham said. “Our strength coach at the end of shooting [said] do wind sprints, then walk to the free throw line.”

“That’s all I thought about every time I went to the free throw line. Derek you’ve been here before, you’ve done this in your gym, in your own comfort, let’s knock these free throws down.”

Of Needham’s 19 points, 11 were in the final 3:54. The senior added eight of 12 from the line.

Needham had the ball in his hands and drew a foul on Anthony Myles on a drive to the basket. His two free throws gave Fairfield a 39-36 lead with 37.1 seconds left. Myles drove to the basket and his two free throws cut it back to one 39-38 with 21.5 left.

Needham went back to the line after being fouled by Thompson with 18.9 seconds left, he made both and extended the lead back to 41-38.

Fairfield freshman Coleman Johnson made a 15-footer to cut the game to a 34-32 Rider lead with 4:57 left. After a Fairfield timeout, Rider tried to back down with Daniel Stewart but he was called for a charge drawn by Mo Barrow.

The Fairfield seniors willed the team to the semifinals, making big plays during the final four minutes. After Daniel Stewart missed the front end of a one-and-one, Fairfield’s senior Needham nailed a three pointer to give the Stags a 35-34 lead with 3:40 left. Johnson could be seen at the Fairfield bench pound his hands on the floor to pump up his seniors.

“I got a little excited,” Nickerson said. “He’s a very intense coach, he gets us riled up as well as our other teammates so it’s good to have him coaching like that.”

“That was sign language for we need a stop,” Needham said.

After Barrow added two free throws to extend the lead to four, Needham picked off a Anthony Myles pass.

The Stags couldn’t convert on the offensive end but when Rider tried to come back on the ensuing possession, Myles’ putback missed and the ball went out to midcourt. Desmond Wade went to the ground near center court, calling a timeout with 1:55 left.

The game never was outside of a margin of four points throughout. Needham led all scorers with 19 points, Jon Thompson led the Broncs with 12 points.

This game is the second fewest points scored in a MAAC game, second to Marist’s 43-40 victory over Iona in 2009. Fairfield’s 43 to win ties the lowest-scoring point total for a winning team with Marist.

“I don’t know if you’ll believe this, I talked to my wife this morning and I said ‘Honey, I don’t care with we win by one point with the other team making the basket for us as long as we win’,” Johnson said.

“There’s something special about the guts these guys have shown, I’m embracing that not fighting it at all.”

The third quarterfinal in MAAC play featured more turnovers (35) than made field goals (27). However it was the second seeded Broncs who were doomed with no assists, 21 turnovers and making 61.5% of their free throws for the night.

“21 turnovers, no assists and you’re 16 for 26 from the free throw line especially the big ones coming down the stretch when we needed to make them,” Baggett said. “Daniel Stewart steps up in a one-and-one, it’s a crucial time in the game, those guys made theirs. They’re going to cost you a game. Free throws cost you games it’s not just our players it’s nationwide, I don’t think kids understand how important free throws are.”

Johnson said he is not a believer in fouling when ahead but his bench said the gamble would pay off.

“I haven’t really ever coached my teams to foul down the strech but I just had a feeling,” Johnson said. “They’re a good three-point shooting team and they’ve got big guards. There was not a lot of time left so we rolled the dice.”

“In terms of the free throw assistant coaches were right on it, you miss a free throw that came from the bench and I just let these guys know you miss that free throw. There’s nothing really no opportunity for them to make a hail mary or touchdown pass so I thought that was excellent with our assistant coaches. The intentional foul was just a whim that I had that seemed to pay off.”

Fairfield freshman Marcus Gilbert exited the floor with 7:23 left with what looked to be a finger injury. Johnson said he’s not sure to what extent the injury.

“He hit his finger pretty hard,” Johnson said. “The kid’s as tough as they come, he’s not as vocal or as boisterous as other guys but he has some hardness to him but we’ll see.” “He had it taped up at the end. If [Gilbert] can play he’s definitely playing, he should stay in everybody’s scouting report. We’ll see, right now it’s too early to know exactly how bad it is, if it is bad.”

Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for Big Apple Buckets, follow him on twitter @ryanarestivo.

Lewis’ Buzzer Beater Helps Marist Stun Iona

The MAAC might be the craziest conference in America and on Thursday night things got even wackier. The first place team and the two teams tied for second that played as winter storm Nemo plowed towards the East Coast all lost on Thursday night, some in stunning fashion. The end result of a crazy night is that a team that’s currently 7-6 in conference play might be the favorite. (Well, and that Niagara ended up as a pretty big winner even in defeat.)

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