#123 Rider Men's Basketball Preview

Rider Broncs

Overall Rank: #123
Conference Rank: #3 Metro Atlantic

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2010-11: 23-11, 13-5
2010-11 postseason: CIT
Coach: Tommy Dempsey (106-86 at Rider, 106-86 overall)

Rider is not exactly carrying a ton of momentum into the 2011-2012 campaign. The Broncs were blown out once they reached the heart of the conference tournament and were again blown out their next game in the first round of the CIT. Prior to that, this was a team that was playing very good basketball. They may take a small step back this season, but with Novar Gadson still around, Coach Tommy Dempsey’s squad can make some noise in the MAAC. Gadson is a big 6-7 wing with a ton of athleticism. He can get to the basket and finish or shoot from outside. He is not an extremely efficient shooter, but he should be good for about 15 points per game and will help out on the glass.

Who’s Out:
The loss of Justin Robinson and Mike Ringgold is huge. Robinson led the team in scoring a year ago and shot 42.7 percent from beyond the arc. Robinson was money from the charity stripe and attacked the basket enough to get there on quite a few occasions. He was also a solid defender and a quality passer. It will not be easy to find a point guard who can do what Robinson has done over the last four years. Ringgold will be missed just as much. He leaves as Rider’s 14th all-time leading scorer and 5th all-time leading rebounder. Patrick Mansell has also run out of eligibility after playing limited minutes during his senior season.

Who’s In:
Jeff Jones may not be the leader Robinson has been lately, but he can certainly help replace his lost scoring. Jones spent three years at Virginia before transferring to Rider. Two years ago he averaged 7.3 points per game and shot 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. As a freshman back in 2007-2008, Jones started 25 contests for the Cavaliers. He is expected to be a starter from day one and likely lead the Broncs in scoring. The Broncs only went seven deep last year and that may be the case again this season. However, there are four incoming freshmen who will try and force Coach Dempsey to look a little further down his bench. Big man Junior Fortunat may have the best opportunity to see immediate playing time. He is a little raw offensively, but is a big body who can come in and grab some boards and block some shots. Eddie Mitchell, Mark Medley and Charles Oliver are all guards who bringing something different to the table. They have all proven to be capable scorers, but whether or not they are ready to crack the regular rotation remains to be seen.

Who to Watch:  
With Jones and Gadson on the wings, Rider just needs somebody to get them the ball. Johnathon Thompson is that guy. The 6-4 junior dished out 3.2 assists per game last year and started 16 contests. He does a superb job of taking care of the ball and always plays tough defense. He is not the best scorer around, but he will use his size to attack the basket and find one of the better shooters on the wing or finish himself. Thompson does have enough of an outside shot to keep the opposition honest and if he starts hitting more long balls, this will be a tough offense to stop. When Jones or Gadson need a break Anthony Myles is ready to step onto the floor. The 6-5 sophomore is coming off of a decent freshman campaign in which he averaged 5.9 points and 2.2 rebounds. A year of experience should give him the early lead on being the team’s sixth man.

Final Projection:
Replacing Ringgold will not be easy, but Brandon Penn and Daniel Stewart are both returning starters. Penn, a 6-8 senior, is a fine all-around scorer who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability. Yet, it will likely be Stewart who steals the headlines. The 6-7 sophomore tallied 7.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest during his freshman campaign. Once his offensive game becomes more consistent, he will be one of the better big men in the MAAC. Sophomore Dera Nd-Ezuma is the only other big man with any experience. The 6-10 junior barely played last year, but is a big body who eventually should be able to come in and at least eat up some minutes.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Jonathon Thompson, Junior, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Jeff Jones, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Novar Gadson, Senior, Guard, 13.7 points per game
Brandon Penn, Senior, Forward, 9.4 points per game
Daniel Stewart, Sophomore, Forward, 7.3 points per game

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