Wednesday, February 15, 2012
With squads battling for seeding in their upcoming conference tournaments, the Rider men’s basketball team will be in the national television spotlight a full week before the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship begins when the Broncs host Loyola of Maryland on ESPN2 on Friday, February 24, at 7 p.m. in Alumni Gym.
The contest will pit the resurgent Broncs against a Greyhounds team that is tied for first place in the MAAC at 12-3, and 19-6 overall. After starting its season by dropping 10 of its first 11 games, coach Tommy Dempsey’s Rider team has stormed back to an 11-16 record, and a solid 8-7 mark in the MAAC heading into a showdown against first-place Iona on February 15, in a game seen on ESPN3. At halftime of the Iona game, 218 Rider student-athletes will be honored for their high GPAs as part of Academic Achievement Night.
The Broncs won five out of six games and eight of their last 12 before suffering a controversial loss at Niagara on February 11. Following that game, the officials, game clock operator and instant replay operator were reprimanded by the MAAC for their inability to “manage their responsibilities in the expected manner,” according to the conference, costing Rider the victory.
Junior Jonathon Thompson hit a three-point shot at the buzzer that was said to be late after a review of the instant replay system. What the replay system failed to show, however, was that when Rider inbounded the ball to start the final play, the clock started too soon.
Rider is 6-4 at home this season and has all three of its remaining MAAC games in the Broncs’ Zoo. Rider has won 148 of its last 204 games in Alumni Gym, a winning percentage of .725.
The Broncs have been led by a trio of seniors, Jeff Jones (12.9 ppg), Brandon Penn (12.6 ppg) and Novar Gadson (10.2). Jones is averaging 13.7 points per game over his last seven games, while Penn is averaging 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds over his last 15 games and Gadson needs 63 points to rank in the top 10 all-time at Rider in both scoring and rebounding at Rider. Brothers Jason Thompson ’08 and Ryan Thompson’10 (no relation to Jonathan), are the only Broncs to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
Ten of the 18 games at the 2012 MAAC Basketball Championships are set to air on one of the ESPN platforms during the annual joint championships, which will be hosted for the first time at the neutral site MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. from March 1 to 5.