Preview: Rutgers vs. Rider

Friday, December 21st, the Rider University Broncos (7-4) ride into the RAC for a 7:30 game. This will be Rutgers' 4th in-state match-up this season. The Scarlet Knights haven't had an easy time with these teams and Rider may be the best of the bunch so far.

Back in the saddle again. This season the Broncos are looking to return to the form that saw the program advance to five conference championships in 13 seasons. They’ve set the bar very high and expectations as a group is to go to the NCAA tournament. That is there number one goal.

Here are there top players:

#1 – Jason Thompson 6’11” 250 F - 20.5 ppg, 11.6 reb with 36 blocked shots… 54.9%fg / 55.6% ft

#32 – Harris Mansell 6’3” 215 G - 13.9 ppg, 3.3 reb… 44%fg / 80% ft / 40.4% 3pt

#5 - Ryan Thompson 6’6” 210 G – 14.0 ppg, 8.0 reb…54.1%fg / 79.6%ft / 42.9% 3pt… little brother to Jason

Star forward Jason Thompson is coming off of a 20 point, 10 rebound per game season. He is the marquee player, but he has a strong supporting cast around him that is about 8 players deep. They are not a one man team. Harris Mansell started 30 games last season and led the MAAC in 3 point percentage. He was 3rd in scoring, 3rd in rebounding and 3rd in assists for the Bronc’s. Ryan Thompson was only a freshman last season but has gotten stronger and is driven for perfection. He was among the top MAAC rookies and has certainly elevated his game.

They have put together a challenging schedule with the likes of NC State, Penn State, Kansas State and Rutgers. They hung tough with NC St losing by 9, beat PSU by 9 and lost to K State by 13. Not bad. Rider and Rutgers have played one common opponent…. NJIT. Rider took them out by 26 points.

Great expectations. The Broncs want to turn these beliefs into realizations by standing and delivering. They are hunting for signature wins. They truly believe they are one of the better mid major programs. The key… they believe.

Rutgers needs to be rough and ready to go.

Corey Chandler (14.1 ppg) is breaking out and becoming the star that many had hoped and he needs to stay the course against Rider. JR Inman (16.2 ppg, 8.5 reb) must maintain his form as a leader, scorer and rebounder and needs to create some space against Jason Thompson. Anthony Farmer has used his veteran savvy well and Mike Coburn must play within his game, don’t force anything. Hamady N’Daiye had a wonderful showing against #1 North Carolina and must continue his climb up the ladder. Byron Joynes is looking healthy and strong. Lately the nicest surprise has been Earl Pettis. He is starting to gain some valuable playing time and is just beginning to show what a great athlete he is and what a valuable contributor he could be. Time to step it up Jaron Griffin, the kid is coming on. The timing could be right for more frequent appearances by Justin Sofman and his long shots from the cheap seats. He could get the Knights into a nice scoring rhythm. Courtney Nelson must simply ease his way back into the flow and get healthier. No need to push for too much.

Rutgers most disappointing statistic, but the easiest to remedy, is the paltry average attendance of 3,761 fans per game. That number includes the North Carolina sellout !!! This has the mark of a great game and Rutgers will desperately look to the “sixth man” for undying support. The crowd could be the difference

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