Baggett Looking to Build from First Year’s Success
There were a lot of accomplishments for the Rider University men’s basketball team in Kevin Baggett’s first season as head coach. The Broncs won 19 games, including eight on the road, and finished second in the MAAC, and received a bid to the College Insider’s Tournament (CIT). Baggett is looking forward to building on the foundation that was established in his first year at the helm, after 16 seasons as a high level Division I assistant coach.
The Broncs will look to a pair of seniors, forward Danny Stewart and guard Anthony Myles, for leadership on and off the court. Both have been key contributors during their Rider careers, and will look to continued development. Stewart and Myles were both voted to the All-MAAC Preseason Second Team, as chosen by the league’s head coaches, after earning All-MAAC Third Team honors at the conclusion of last season. The 6-7 Stewart averaged 10.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for Rider last season, and was fourth in the MAAC in rebounding and seventh in field goal percentage. The versatile, 6-4 Myles was in the league’s top 18 in scoring, rebounding and three-point field goals, while starting all 34 games. Another veteran who will be called upon is 6-9 Junior Fortnat, a rugged junior forward who led the Broncs in field goal percentage. Guard Tommy Pereira is a three-point threat, and hit 40-of -107 (.374) from behind the arc last year. Sophomore Zedric Sadler looks to be the heir apparent to the graduated Jon Thompson’s point guard position. Sadler averaged 5.1 points while playing 22 minutes per game as a freshman last year. Freshman Jimmie Taylor, a first team All-State selection in Florida, will get a long look in the backcourt. Shawn Valentine, a 6-7 forward, and Khalil Alford, a 6-4 guard, also saw significant action for the Broncs as freshmen last season.
The Broncs will face a challenging schedule which includes games at Lehigh (Nov. 12), at Purdue (Nov. 17) and at Villanova (Dec. 21) as well as a spot in the 47th Cable Car Classic , facing Rice in the first round. Rider will have five games broadcast as part of the MAAC’s TV package, including at Monmouth on Dec. 5 (ESPN3) the first-ever MAAC game for the Hawks. Rider will be at Manhattan on Jan. 24 (ESPNU or ESPN3), will host another in-state rival Saint Peter’s on Jan. 31 (ESPNU or ESPN3), host Iona on Feb. 21 (ESPNU or ESPN3) and will be at Iona (ESPN3) on March 2.
Rider Women’s Team Looks to improve on 15 win Season
The Rider University Broncs women’s basketball team is coming off of its best finish since the 1994-1995 season with 15 wins. The Broncs and seventh year head coach Lynn Milligan finished the 2012-13 regular season fourth in the MAAC with a league mark of 10-8 and 15-15 overall record while also advancing to the MAAC quarterfinals round. The Broncs were selected to finish fifth in the Preseason Coaches’ poll earlier this fall.
The Broncs have high expectations and will be led by top player and Preseason All-MAAC First Team selection 6-0 guard/forward MyNeshia McKenzie. McKenzie ranked 2nd in the MAAC grabbing 9.8 rebounds, 4th in scoring with 14.2, and 8th in steals with 1.9 per contest. The Springfield, Pa., native led the Broncs in scoring, rebounds, steals, assists and minutes as she was named to the All-MAAC First Team. She will enter the 2013-14 season only needing 5 points to eclipse the 1,000 point mark. The Broncs will also look for points from the team’s returning top three-point threat in junior Emily Fazzini. The 5-10 guard from Wayne, Pa., held a .311 three-point shooting percentage and knocked down 1.2 three-pointers per game last season. Fifth-year senior Shereen Lightbourne, who missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, also returns to the Broncs lineup after not seeing action since 2011. The 5-10 guard was team MVP from the 2009-2010 season after leading the team in scoring and field goals made as a sophomore.
The Broncs women’s team will face three NCAA qualifiers in their nine non-conference scheduled games. Rider opens the 2013-14 season on Friday, Nov. 8 when the Broncs travel to Easton, Pennsylvania to take on Lafayette College. The Broncs will appear in two games on the ESPN networks as part of the MAAC’s television package. On Thursday Feb.6 they will host last season MAAC runner-up Iona College in a game that will feature three Preseason All-MAAC First Team members. On Thursday Feb. 13 the Broncs will travel to Bridgeport, Conn., to face Fairfield University in a battle of Preseason top five teams. Both games will be featured on ESPN3.