Tag:Rider Broncs
Posted on: February 25, 2011 9:29 am

The Race for 2nd in the Metro Atlantic (MAAC)

We’re a week away from the beginning of March, and that means it time for the Madness to ensue. This also means that I am long overdue in giving the readers (all twelve of you) a healthy dose of Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Basketball information. And because writing about the Big East would give me a headache and be about as useful as fishing in a toilet bowl.

Anyway, we contacted our resident MAAC tiebreaker expert (my college roommate Norm) and he was able to come up with all the doomsday scenarios for tiebreaker hell. We’ll touch on that a little bit later, but right now we need to address the three-way tie for second in the MAAC standings. There is no fight for first anymore since the Fairfield Stags wrapped that up last week. (And congratulations to Ed Cooley and his Stags, who have had recent seasons diminished by injuries, illnesses and other problems that not once have detered their competitiveness in the MAAC.)

Yes, that means the hosts of this year’s MAAC Tournament, being held in Bridgeport, CT, are the top seed, a trend that this former Rider Bronc can’t wait to see end when the tournament moves to Springfield, Mass in 2012.

(Moving the MAAC Tourament to Springfield, Mass., in my opinion, is a terrible idea. But considering Rider’s recent history against top-seeded hosts in MAAC Finals, I’m willing to try anything.)


Surprisingly, the Peacocks control their own destiny in the MAAC. If they win out vs. Iona and at Rider they will pass both in the standings for second place. Their first game at home against Iona is almost like a seeding semi-final. The Peacocks need a win otherwise they will have been swept 2-0 by the Gaels and Iona would have a head-to-head tiebreaker. If St. Peter’s losses to Iona but beats Rider in the finale, then they would hold have swept the Broncs and hold that ever important head-to-head over Rider.

RIDER BRONCS (20-9, 11-5 MAAC)

If the win out at Marist and vs. St. Peter’s they’ll hold the first tiebreaker in the MAAC if they are tied with anyone at the end of the year. This is by virtue of their win at Fairfield on Super Bowl Sunday in a very confusing set of MAAC tiebreakers. However, they aren’t in full control of their own destiny. They need Iona to lose one of its remaining games. Like if St. Peter’s beats Iona and Rider beats Marist on Friday, it will set up a defacto championship for the second seed in Bridgeport, CT the following week. Rider also has the easiest game on the schedule this weekend facing last place Marist.

IONA GAELS (18-10, 11-5 MAAC)

Iona is very much in the same boat as St. Peter’s. They need wins against St. Peter’s and Fairfield for the following reasons: to sweep the Peacocks and to equal Rider’s tiebreaker by beating the Stags. If that happens, then Iona could be in the driver’s seat for the second seed. But that leads us to…


Okay, my resident Metro Atlantic tiebreaking expert actually thought about this for five minutes. Which means this is bad. Very bad. Consider this: Rider and Iona go 2-0 this weekend, finishing St. Peter’s at 11-7 in conference. Rider and Iona would be tied at 13-5, having split their season series and each beating Fairfield once. The next tiebreaker would be the fourth place team, which would be at least St. Peter’s but also could be Loyola (MD) if they win both games in Buffalo this weekend. If Loyola loses one of its games, Iona wins the tiebreaker for second by virtue of its sweep of the Peacocks. If Loyola and St. Peter’s finish tied, both Iona and Rider finished 3-1 against these teams (Rider swept Loyola, split with St. Peter’s, vice virsa for Iona). So what’s the next tiebreaker…well…uhhh…skipping all the way down to the end of it, our expert believes that a coin toss could be possible. And here’s the scary part. That scenario above, is very feasible.

So there you have it, the first Metro Atlantic entry is in the books. Many more to come from your blogging leader of MAAC Basketball. And I can actually say that.

Posted on: March 7, 2010 10:02 pm

Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Final Set Between Top Seeds

The Metro Atlantic semifinals concluded and the top teams in the regular season will meet for the title. Here are the recaps...

Siena 72, Rider 62

I said in my preview that Rider would need to rebound and Siena would have to be patient in this game. Well, both teams accomplished thier goals, but it was Siena that took the game with a 16-0 second half run that Rider never recovered from. The Broncs lead for most of the game, including a 30-28 edge at the half, but were unable to hold off the Saints' huge run keyed by Roland Moore (15 pts, 10 ast). Ryan Rossiter (10 pts, 18 reb), Alex Franklin (18 pts, 8 reb) and Clarence Jackson (17 pts) were able to solve the Broncs' zone defense and score in transition in the 2nd half as the Saints pulled away and never looked back.

Rider was lead by the efforts of stars Ryan Thompson (21 pts) and Mike Ringgold (20 pts, 14 reb). Thompson scored the first 9 Rider points and got the Broncs out to a quick lead. Rider remained in control for most of the first half despite trading baskets and the lead with Siena. Siena's Jackson hit two three-pointers during that huge run in the second half to bury the Broncs.

One thing of note is the play of Siena's Edwin Ubiles. Siena has the best starting five in the MAAC, but they need Ubiles to be able to score and his 4-14 shooting against Rider and 5-12 against Manhattan aren't helping this team. But give credit to Fran McCaffery's squad. For the second straight game they found themselves in a hole but didn't panic and took over the game late. And also to Tommy Dempsey's Broncs for a great game plan, especially defensively with a 2-3 zone Cuse's Jim Boeheim would have been proud of.

Fairfield 69, Niagara 63

Our second semifinal was another comeback victory, this one for the Fairfield Stags. A late second half run carried the Stags to victory as Derek Needham had 17 points and star big man Anthony Johnson had 21 points and 8 boards. The Fairfield bench took offense to me calling out the Stags' depth and got two great preformances from Colin Nickerson (14 pts) and Ryan Olander (11 pts, 9 reb). Tyrone Lewis lead the Purple Eagles with 20 points and Bilal Benn, Kashief Edwards and Anthony Nelson were all in double figures.

Yesterday, Niagara's senior experience helped them overcome a spunky Iona team, but the Stags were just too much. Fairfield coach Ed Cooley has been through everything you can think of to plauge a team and a program, and they've been resilient through it all.

I'm still working on my Marist women's piece, which I think will be a great feature entry. And I'll have my MAAC final preview and recap tomorrow as well.

And I'm now 7-8 in my pre-tourney predictions. But I'd much rather be 6-8...
Posted on: March 7, 2010 3:48 pm

Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Semifinal Preview

This is the worst case senario for MAAC fans. You're team is playing Siena, at home, in the conference tournament. This is where my Broncs find themselves right now. But maybe it's not as bad as it seems. These two teams have met in the title game before, two years ago by my count, the first of Siena's two consectutive MAAC titles and NCAA appearances. Maybe it's better to play them in the semis, but if this season's games were an indicator of what's to come, I'm in for a long day.

And should fans be suprised that four of the top five scoring teams in the MAAC made the semifinals? Or how about the top three preseason teams (Siena, Niagara, Rider)? No, not really, but then again, that's why I went 4-for-4 in my picks yesterday. But I'll be rooting hard against my pick in the first game. Here's the previews.

No. 5 Rider Broncs vs. No. 1 Siena Saints - 4 PM / MSG

Siena swept Rider this season and niether game was much of a contest as the Saints tallied two blowout wins, including an 80-54 thrashing in Lawrenceville, NJ on Feb 26th. That wasn't all that long ago, and aside from that game, the Broncs have been pretty good down the stretch.

Battle To Watch: Mike Ringgold (RIDER) vs. Alex Franklin (SIENA) - Two of the best all-around bigs in the conference.
Battle To Watch II: Ryan Thompson (RIDER) vs. Edwin Ubiles (SIENA) - Thompson struggled against Siena in the regular season and Ubiles didn't have a great game against Manhattan in the quarters.
Player to Watch: Novar Gadson (RIDER) - Had 25 points off the bench in that 80-54 beatdown mentioned above.

Keys to a Rider victory: Rebounding. They didn't do it against St. Peter's but the Peacocks shot themselves in the foot with 16 first half turnovers. Also, no bad three point shots (I'm looking at you Pat Mansell).

Keys to a Siena victory: Patience. They stayed in the moment against Manhattan despite being down and they didn't panic and won the game going away.

No. 6 Niagara Purple Eagles vs. No. 2 Fairfield Stags - 6:30 PM / MSG

These two teams split their regular season meetings, each winning at home. Niagara did force overtime a week ago at Fairfield before falling.

Battle To Watch: Derek Needham (FAIR) vs. Tyrone Lewis (NIAG) - Freshman going against the senior in a battle of scorers.
Player To Watch: Bilal Benn (NIAG) - A double-double machine leading the inside players for Niagara.

Keys to a Niagara Victory: Free Throws. They shot poorly from the stripe against the Stags in their OT loss and were less than stellar yesterday against Iona, letting the Gaels back into the game late.

Keys to a Fairfield Victory: Foul Trouble. More importantly, staying out of it. This isn't a terriblely deep team for Fairfield, but their bench won't be relied on for scoring in bunches aside from sharpshooter F Mike Evanovich.

I'll be writing up an entry on the Marist Women's MAAC title (congrats to them), as well as a semifinal recap later on tonight. Thanks for reading.

Now don't bother me for the next two and a half hours. Maybe longer.
Posted on: March 6, 2010 9:41 pm

MAAC Quarters Update - Siena Survives, Rider WIns

In two games so far up in Albany, the two teams that played complete games have been the winners. St. Peter's dug themselves a hole against Rider by committing 16 turnovers in the first half and Manhattan melted down emotionally against Siena in a second half that saw the Jaspers start with the lead and lose by 17.

Rider 69, St. Peter's 57

Ryan Thompson led four Broncs in double-figures, leading his team to victory against rival St. Peter's. The Peacocks couldn't comeback from a 15-point half time deficit and were on the wrong end of a 17-3 run to start the game. St. Peter's owned the boards, especially on the offensive end, holding a 44-29 edge in total rebounding. Rider owned the free throw line, going 31-46, most of the misses coming from Mike Ringgold (7-15 FTs, 15 pts), who is only a 31 percent shooter on the season. Ryan Bacon lead the Peacocks with a double-double, scoring 24 and grabbing 13 boards. Thompson's 22 point, 5 rebound, 4 assist preformance paced the Broncs, while Gadson, Robinson and Ringgold added double-digit points.

St. Peter's guards never got anything going, as starters Raymond, Leon and Jenkins went a combined 5-28 from the field and totaled only 13 points between them. Rider let St. Peter's back into the game late before putting the game away from the free throw line.

Siena 78, Manhattan 61

Manhattan held a 40-36 advantage at the break, but couldn't hold off Siena in the second half as this game turned into a blowout. The first half was back and forth after a quick Manhattan run to start the game. The Jaspers led the whole half and early in the second before Manhattan seemed more interested jawing with the Saints than playing basketball.

Losing that focus in the 2nd half cost the Jaspers their upset bid. That and Fran McCaffery probably laid into his Siena team at the break. The Saints forwards were able to dominate this game and Siena was able to contain Manhattan's guard play in the 2nd half, holding the Jaspers to just 21 2nd half points.

I'll have the two night games later. Currently Fairfield is looking to close out Canisus late in the 2nd half. Iona and Niagara wrap up the MAAC quarterfinals later.

Posted on: March 6, 2010 2:13 pm

Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Quarterfinal Preview

Sorry for not getting this up sooner, but I've been busy. So here are the quick previews for each game and a player to keep on eye out throughout the day.

No. 5 Rider vs. No. 4 St. Peter's - 2:30 PM

This could be the best game of the bunch as these two in-state rivals square off as it starts the quarterfinal round for the MAACs up in Albany.
Battle to Watch: Mike Ringgold (RID) vs. Ryan Bacon (SPC) in the paint. Both players are double-double threats.
Player to Watch: Ryan Thompson (RID) - Preseason MAAC player of the Year and the 2nd leading scorer in the conference.

No. 9 Manhattan vs. No. 1 Siena - 4:30 PM

Manhattan came out with one of its best games of the season yesterday. They have a quick turnaround, playing less than 24 hours ago and are playing the best team in the MAAC, the Siena Saints on their home floor.
Battle to Watch: Balanced Scoring - Siena has four players who average double-digit points, Manhattan only has two.
Player to Watch: Rico Pickett (MANH) - Did I mention he dropped 33 yesterday?

No. 7 Canisus vs. No. 2 Fairfield - 7:30 PM

Upstart Canisus takes on second-seeded Fairfield. This isn't an easy out for the Stags and the Griffs are looking for an upset and revenge for a season sweep.
Battle to Watch: Frank Turner (CAN) vs. Fairfield - Can the Stags slow down the Griff's star?
Player to Watch: Anthony Johnson (FAIR) - Stags leading rebounder and second in scoring this season.

No. 6 Niagara vs. No. 3 Iona - 10:30 PM
Another solid game pits the talented Purple Eagles against the suprising Gaels. Most preseason polls probably had these teams reversed in the standings, so it could be a great game.
Battle to Watch: Rebounding - Bilal Benn (NIAG) is one of the best rebounders for the league-leading board hogging Eagles.
Player to Watch: Tyrone Lewis (NIAG) - He's the best scorer for Niagara and third best in the conference. Scott Machado (IONA) leads the balanced Gaels' attack.

Posted on: March 5, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: March 5, 2010 11:55 am

2010 Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Tournament Preview

2010 MAAC Tournament
Albany, NY - Times Union Center (8,065 cap.)

Ahhh...March Madness is once again upon us and that means an entire month in front of the TV watching college basketball. This is my favorite time of year, it beats the Super Bowl and NFL playoffs, baseball and the World Series, everything. Maybe it's the brackets. Maybe it's the upsets. Maybe it's just the best post-season format in sports (and adding thirty teams would kill it, but that's for another day).

Either way, I get 5 weeks of great college basketball with the Metro Atlantic tourney this weekend, the Big East tourney next week and the NCAA tourney from mid-March to April. Okay, so not everyone cares about the MAAC tournament, but the Big East tournament is going to have huge bubble implications and well, the NCAA tournament is just great. Especially the first weekend with the first two rounds. Nothing can top that week.

So, without further ado, my Metro Atlantic tournament preview...

MAAC Standings

The bottom four in the standings will play (7v10 / 8v9) Friday in the first round. Those teams will be reseeded, the lowest seed playing No. 1 Siena and the higher playing No. 2 Fairfield in the quarterfinals. The other two quarterfinals are set all ready set (3 Iona-6 Niagara / 4 St. Peters- 6 Rider).

The Favorite - No. 1 Siena

I am getting sick of this team. But that's what happens when you're dominating everyone in conference play. No one can beat these guys. It's the best team and program in the conference. Fran McCaffery's four-headed monster of Alex Franklin, Edwin Ubiles, Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson (14 ppg or higher) have lead Siena to another regular season MAAC title and they're looking for their third consectutive NCAA tournament berth. But they'll likely need to win the tournament, as their resume lacks good non-conference wins. Either way, they're playing at home where they're 14-0 this season and are the odds on favorites to win.

The Contenders - No. 2 Fairfield, No. 5 Rider, No. 6 Niagara

Could Iona and St. Peter's (ranked 3 and 4 respectively) make noise in the MAACs, absolutely, but I wouldn't be picking them. Fairfield has quietly had the second best season in the conference, and they've been quietly good for a few years now. Ed Cooley's Stags have endured personnel problems, injuries and a host of other things in recent years and they still keep winning. Fairfield played Siena tough this year, though they lost both times, Siena had to hold on for a two-point victory in Albany on Feb. 8.

Niagara and Rider were pre-season favorites to contend with Siena for the MAAC title. Though they both didn't have great seasons, both overall and in the MAAC, both teams have the talent to beat Siena. Niagara actually has done it, an 87-74 home win Feb. 12. Niagara however lost the tie-breaker with Rider for the 5th seed since Rider swept the season series with the Purple Eagles. Personally, I'd want to be on the other half of the bracket, awaay from Siena, but that's because Siena crushed Rider in both meetings 84-62 and 80-54 this season. Rider however does have the MAAC's best non-conference win, at Miss. St, who was ranked 19th to open the season.

Cinderella Story - No. 7 Canisus

If you're looking for a team to win from the MAAC's bottom four and first round teams, the Griffs are your best bet. They'll have to beat hapless Marist (1-28) and then Fairfield to make the semifinals. Canisus lost both games to Fairfield this year, but by a total of only 8 points.

Quarterfinal to Watch - No. 5 Rider vs. No. 4 St. Peter's

These two in-state rivals split their season series, with each team winning on the other's home court. And these two student fan bases don't need much of a reason to get excited for this game. Only bad news - winner plays Siena.

MAAC Tournament Final That You Want To See... No. 2 Fairfield vs. No. 1 Siena

Okay, I know that chalk isn't all that exciting, but Fairfield has the best resume against Siena, even with two losses. They've been the only team to threaten Siena's home court this season, where the Saints are undefeated. For a national TV stage, these are the two best teams in the MAAC this season. Siena's NCAA resume probably won't be enough to make it into the big dance, so they'll need a MAAC tournament title to seal their fourth trip to the big dance.


First Round:
[7] Canisus, [8] Loyola MD
Quarters: [1] Siena - [5] Rider, [2] Fairfield - [6] Niagara
Semisfinals: [1] Siena - [2] Fairfield
MAAC Title: [1] Siena

Siena is just too good right now at home. Thankfully, the MAAC tournament is moving to Springfield, Mass for the 2012 MAAC tournament, a nuetral site for all Metro Atlantic teams. The 2011 Tournament will take place in Bridgeport, CT and the Arena at Harbor Yard, the off-campus home of the Fairfield Stags. Siena is the class of the Metro Atlantic right now and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. Regardless, even if Siena losses, they have earned an automatic bid to the NIT by virtue of their regular season MAAC title.

I'll be around all weekend blogging about the MAAC before focusing on the Big East next week. And now to channel my inner Dick Vitale..

March Madness is here BABY!!! Greatest time of the year!!!

Posted on: February 2, 2010 12:22 pm

Road Trip - Bridgeport, CT - Rider v. Fairfield

Okay, so Bridgeport, CT isn't much of a road trip. The Harbor Yard sports complex (Ballpark and Arena) sits just a short 15 minute drive away from my house. So when my Rider Broncs show up in town to play the Fairfield Stags, I don't need much of an excuse to go and watch my team play and remember the glory days of my time at Rider. Just for fun, I dragged my dad along with me.

Just to add a little more incentive, the Arena at Harbor Yard was celebrating its 1,000th event. The promotion, a free hot dog to all fans on the way in. Okay, it was a ticket to redeem the hot dog, and yes that sounds lame, but hey, I'm not going to start ripping on my home arena. Even if I could (and I can) I still wouldn't do it.

The highlights? Fairfield has a 6'9'' forward named Mike Evanovich who scored 24 points (not in the recap by the way, check the box score) who hit his first 8 3-pt FG attempts in the game. He was completely unconscious for the first half. My dad spotted him during warm-ups and said that he wasn't missing. I figured since he wasn't a starter that he could only hit uncontested jumpers. Boy was I wrong, but that's nothing new. Evanovich hit from everywhere on the court, 27-footers and probably a turn-around in there somewhere too. Rider had no answer for him. But that's the end of the Fairfield highlights.

Rider's Ryan Thompson, brother of the Sacramento Kings Jason Thompson, another Rider grad, is a nightmare for the Metro Atlantic (MAAC). The Stags had no answer for him either and if it weren't for Evanovich's shooting in the first half, this game would have been over well before halftime. Rider had verny balanced scoring in the first half before Thompson took over and led the Broncs to victory. There are NBA scouts giving him a look, and he has the skills. But he's a combo wing player (2 guard/small forward) at the next level and while I know he could play in the NBA, it would be hard for him to crack most starting lineups.

With about 7-5 minutes to go, a Fairfield fan sitting behind me promptly declared the game was over. Rider was up by double-digits and had all the momentum. Evanovich couldn't hit a three in the 2nd half (he played less due to foul trouble) and it took a late Fairfield run to get the defecit back to single-digits. Rider, not usually a good FT shooting team, shot 79 percent (26-33) and hit 10 of 12 in the final minutes to seal the win.

I also noticed Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey wearing sneakers for the game. I wasn't able to find the significance of this, but many basketball coaches have done this to support numerous charities in the past.

Overall, it was great seeing my old team win in my backyard. Rider had been struggling of late and it was nice to see the pull out a win. They'll need a good stretch in February to secure a good seed in the MAAC tournament in Albany, NY in March. And you can bet I'll be going to that.
Posted on: November 17, 2009 2:44 pm

Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Goes 3-0 In ESPN's Marathon

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) had three teams win nationally televised games today as part of ESPN's 24-Hour Marathon Tip-Off. But that's not what has the MAAC making headlines this year. The MAAC is generally a on-bid Mid-Major conference. This year however, do not be surprised to find two teams from the MAAC dancing in March.

But let's go over the today's games first before I get ahead of myself.

St. Peter's 58, Monmouth 34 -- 6 AM EST -- Easily the hardest starting time for the whole marathon, St. Peter's battle New Jersey rival Monmouth while most people on the East Coast were eating breakfast. Naturally, St. Peter's F Ryan Bacon scored the first points. (Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.) The Peacocks then went on to hold the Hawks to just 21% shooting (10-47) from the field for the game en route to a blowout win in Jersey City.

Niagara 76, Drexel 69 -- 8 AM EST -- Drexel lead early in this game, but after Niagara took the lead 20-16 with 9:37 left in the 1st half, Niagara led the rest of the way. The Dragons made it interesting at the end of the game coming back from 15 down, but never got closer than three points. Rob Garrison (20 pts) and Bilal Benn (19 pts) led the way for the Purple Eagles.

Siena 59, Northeastern 53 -- 12 PM EST -- Northeastern led by 14 points in the first half, but were unable to hold of the Saints in the 2nd half. Edwin Ubiles led the way for the Saints with 26 points on 11-18 shooting from the field. Siena as a team only shot 38.5% (20-52) from the field for the game but held the Huskies to 35% (22-63). Matt Jenning had 14 points for Northeastern.

All of these were home games for the MAAC teams, who all started the season on the road. Siena won at Tennessee St., Niagara blew a late lead at Auburn and St. Peter's lost on a buzzer beater to Seton Hall. Combine those games with Rider (2-0, wins @ Miss St, vs. Lehigh) and 2-0 Fairfield ( CCSU and Fordham) and you've got the makings of a pretty good conference resume so far. Rider will also visit Virginia and Kentucky later this week. Fairfield plays at Maryland tonight. Siena plays at Georgia Tech and Northern Iowa later. That means that the MAAC's conference power rating (related to the RPI) should be pretty high and a few more high-profile wins in November, could go a long way come March.

And with three legitimate contenders for the MAAC title, don't be surprised a MAAC team get an at-large bid come March. Siena is a few weeks away from potentially breaking into the Top 25 polls. Rider has a resume building win at Mississippi State, projected to win the SEC West. Niagara has played tough non-conference teams well in the past. Don't be surprised, especially if the Saints fall in the MAAC title game, to see them get an at-large bid. They have won 1st round games in back-to-back seasons and gave #1 seed Louisville a great game last March as well. Rider and Niagara have been very close gaining other postseason bids (NIT, CBI, etc.)

As always, the MAAC conferences games are always competitive, and look for the top half of the league to slug it out with each other in the coming months. Also, the road to the MAAC Championship once again goes through the Saints, figuratively and literally. The MAAC title game is in Albany, NY at the Times Union Center, the home of the Siena Saints.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com