Saturday, March 21, 2009

Down go the Lions!

This afternoon in Happy Valley, Fairfield's men's lacrosse team may have come an age. 

Nick Baglio scored in overtime to secure a 5-4 with over the Nittany Lions, an ECAC rival. Charlied Cipriano (12 saves) had four huge point blank saves in the fourth quarter to keep the game tied. IT was Cipriano's third straight double-digit save game of his career. Penn Sate took 38 shots in total to the Stags' 28, but only scored twice.

More to come as the story advances.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two for two for Fairfield lax

After the women knocked off Sacred Heart this afternoon, the men completed a sweep for the Stags lacrosse programs as they defeated Marist 8-6 in Poughkeepsie in a non-conference matchup.

Although Fairfield and Marist are used to squaring off in the MAAC, the Stags participate in the ECAC Lacrosse League, while the Red Foxes play in the MAAC as they do in all other sports.

The Stags were led by an outstanding performance from freshman phenom John Snellman, a Norwalk, Conn. native who scored four times in the victory. Snellman now has a team-high 10 goals on the season. Fellow Norwalk native and freshman Brent Adams added an assist, increasing his team-high points total to 12 (six goals, six assists).

It was a return to Marist for Stags first-year head coach Andy Copelan, who coached for two seasons there and posted 18 wins.

Snellman scored twice in the first 12 minutes of the game to put Fairfield ahead and the Stags then broke a 5-5 tie in the third quarter to seal the victory.

-Tom Cleary

Women's lax knocks off cross-town rival Sacred Heart 16-11

The Stags women's lacrosse team defeated Sacred Heart, 16-11, at Alumni Stadium for their fifth consecutive victory, improving to 6-1 on the season overall. Sophomore Kristen Coleman led the way for Fairfield with five goals on seven shots. Coleman now has 23 goals on the season, one behind team-leader Rebecca White, who scored twice against the Pioneers.

White, a senior captain, has also excelled defensively. She was named MAAC Player of the Week this week after leading the Stags with nine ground balls and three caused turnovers in their two victories over Mount St. Mary's and Lehigh. She had three groundballs against Sacred Heart.

The Stags outscored the Pioneers 12-2 in the first half, but Sacred Heart battled back with a 9-4 second half advantage, but could not get close enough to put enough pressure on Fairfield.

Fairfield has lost only once this season, at home against Yale in a devastating 11-10 overtime loss on Feb. 25. This season is following the same script of the last, when the Stags lost only to Yale before winning 17 consecutive games and then falling to Marist in the MAAC finals, costing the Stags a chance at the NCAA tournament.

Their next game comes on March 24 against Dartmouth as part of a three-game road trip. Fairfield returns home on April 3 for what could be its biggest game of the year against Marist. The Red Foxes are currently 3-1 and were selected second in the MAAC pre-season poll, behind Fairfield.

-Tom Cleary

Monday, March 16, 2009

A beautiful day for baseball?

It might not have been the best day for baseball, with mid-40s temperatures and a brisk wind blowing on Alumni Diamond, but nonetheless the Stags played their home opener against in-state rival UConn, losing a hard fought 5-4 game.

The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a ground out off of Fairfield starting pitcher Sam Robertson, a freshman from nearby Ridgefield, Conn. But in the bottom half of the inning the Stags jumped out to a 2-1 lead on singles by freshman Ryan Furbeck and Tyler Wosleger.

In the fifth inning UConn retook the lead when Pete Fatse hit a home run to right field, scoring three runs and giving the Huskies a 4-2 advantage. In the sixth inning the Huskies were threatening again, with runners on first and second with no outs. But shortstop Mike Olt lined into a triple play, hitting the ball to second baseman Tucker Nathans, who caught the line drive, threw to second base for a second out and then Furbeck threw on to first base for the final out.

The triple play, one of the more rare plays in sports, was the first since 1988 for the Stags. There was also a triple play turned in 2004.

UConn added a fifth run in the top of the seventh on a botched suicide squeeze attempt, when the batter missed the sign, but catcher Chris Horning dropped the pitch and the runner scored anyway. In the bottom half of the inning the Stags rallied again, with Furbeck and fellow freshman Mark Skrapits leading the way, each hitting RBI singles to pull the Stags within one run.

But that was as close as Fairfield would get.

The loss dropped the Stags to 3-8 on the year. After a rough start in Florida, the Stags have been playing better, defeating New York Tech in 10 innings on Sunday, following a 5-4 loss at St. John's the day before, when junior Bill Rafferty was thrown out at home plate in the ninth inning to end the game.

The Stags return to action tomorrow with a second away game at St. John's. After another in-state matchup with Quinnpiac at home on Thursday, the Stags start the MAAC season with three games at home against Siena this weekend.

-Tom Cleary

C-Bye-Bye to Fairfield's season

No CBI this year for Fairfield; the sixteen-team field was announced just before midnight late Sunday night, and the Stags - or any other MAAC team - were not included. Niagara (NIT) and Rider (CIT) secured non-NCAA bids earlier this evening.

Plenty of questions around this one: Did the CBI selection committee really feel that Fairfield, strong RPI, improved conference and all, was not worthy of a tourney bid? Hard to believe. The better question: did Fairifeld turn down the bid given the financial implications and added hastles a low level tournament would bring? Was Cooley already on his way to the Bahamas for that dream vacation he's been talking about for weeks?

Let the speculation (and countdown to Nov. 2009) begin.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Does this look like the face of a man that could restart Fairfield's season?

That would be Jeff Hironaka, the head coach at Seattle Pacific University - good lookin' guy - one of four members of the Collegiate Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament selection committee that is, as we speaking, tossing around potential candidates for the backup backup tourney's second season. 

Whether or not Fairfield is one of those names... well, you're guess is as good as mine. But here's a few random reasons the Stags have a prayer:

  • Fairfield finished the season with an RPI of 97. With the inclusion of the CBI, 113 D-I basketball teams will qualify for postseason tournaments. Add in the brand spankin' new tournament, which is in its inaugural season, and that total is up to 123 teams. You do the math. 
  • The Stags beat two teams (American and UT-Chatanooga) that won their respective conference and landed a spot in the NCAA tournament. 
  • Siena (26-7), who won a postseason game in the NCAA's last year and pulled off a nine-seed in this year's Big Dance, finished the season of an RPI of 19. Niagara (26-8), an NIT team, also had a very respectable RPI . Translation: The MAAC is good. Very good.
  • Crazy conspiracy theory: David McLaughlin, head coach at Stonehill, is one of four on the CBI Selection Committee. Where did Ed Cooley go to college again?
Any thoughts? Also, be sure to chime in on the Scout message boards, where they've already been talking about this possibility for days.

UPDATE [10:57] - Two years, two straight postseason births for head coach Tommy Dempsey and Rider, which was just named as one of ten participants in the inaugural Tournament (CTI). The Broncs will play Liberty in the first-round. The MAAC is now three-for-three in postseason bids. Fairfield, your rebuttal?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tonight, tonight

It all comes down to this. At 9pm tonight in Albany, Niagara and Siena will tip with a shot at the NCAA Tournament on the line.

As much as I hate to say it, a final other than these two would've been a disappointment - they really are the two most talented and complete teams this year. Fairfield is evolving into a top team, and Rider boasts the league's top talent, but these two are the creme of the crop.

Despite head coach Fran McCaffrey's warnings, it appears as if MAAC Player of the Year Kenny Hasbrouck will play. Hasbrouck ran into a defender yesterday against Fairfield and severely bruised his lower right leg. Will it affect the game? Based on McCaffrey's post-game reaction (When asked if Hasbrouck could have returned late in the game if it was closer and their season as in doubt, McCaffrey bluntly responded, "Absolutely not.") yesterday, I'm almost positive he will not be 100%. The kid may limp the entire game.

Check out ESPN2 (and Ben Doody's live Trentonian blog!) at 9pm for the game. That's what I'll be doing, now back in good ol' Fairfield, Connecticut.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MAAC Championship Semis: Fairfield v. Siena

Do you believe in miracles?

As Marist women's team appears to be on its way to the NCAA Tournament, head coach Ed Cooley and the Stags had a 10:00am breakfast at the Crowne-Plaza and then headed to a late morning practice. We have yet to see them today, though. The Times-Union Center reopens at 4:30pm for tonight's men's games, with warm-ups and shoot-around starting a little before six. 

Perfect timing to watch Duke/UNC and get your fill of MAAC Basketball.

Speaking of tonight's game, what do you think the odds are that Cooley, always a motivator, channels his inner Herb Brooks before tonight's game in the lion's den against Siena?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tip of the cap

First things first: a special thank you to all of our readers. Tom, Chris, and I appreciate it more than you know. We nearly reached 200 hits tonight - a record for the Mirror Sports Blog. The fact that you've made a choice to keep checking our blog and stick with our coverage means a lot to us. After all, it is the weekend and we are only a college paper. You're the heart of this blog.

So let's do it all again tomorrow, shall we?

If you're interested, here's our last bit of work for the night:

Women's Coverage, anyone?

We've given the men a lot of love tonight for their win over Manhattan, but how about a little coverage of the women's team? Here's a rundown of our post-game work today on the Fairfield/Canisius game:

Tom and I are finishing up some wall-to-wall stories and features for tomorrow's showdown with Siena. That should be up in about an hour.

In other news, the men's basketball team huddled at 9pm this evening at the Crowne-Plaza. No word on whether it was a practice, a walk-through, or a team meeting. This much is sure: they're as excited as I've ever seen them for tomorrow's game. More updates as they come.

Classy Cooley and Kelsey's

Just got back from the Times-Union Center (we'll watch the rest of tonight's games from the comfort of our room) in rainy Albany. We also happened to run into the Fairfield men's basketball team, who rented out Kelsey's Pub in the lobby of the Crowne-Plaza to have a meal together and watch the Siena game.

Anyway, as we prep our post-game coverage and our preview of the semifinals game against Siena, thought I'd share a little story: after the game, Tom Cleary, Chris Simmons, and I were chatting with WVOF's Brendan Monahan and a few other Fairfield students that made the trip up to work the tournament. Cooley, who had wrapped up his post-game press conference five minutes before, stopped by and thanked us. Thank us? Really? Humbling to hear the coach say a few nice words about our coverage.

Then he paused for a second.

"I'll see you boys tomorrow," Cooley said with a smile.

MAACs: Men's Basketball v. Manhattan

Courtside with Cleary and Connors (Pre-Game)

At forward. Number forty-four.

Leading up to last night, all indications seemed to point to junior forward Greg Nero attempting to play in this afternoon's MAAC Championships quarterfinals game. 

Turns out we were right, and we found out last night from the man himself. Nero, who we accidentally ran into at the Crown-Plaza gift shop after dinner, said he's feeling much better and is "ready to roll tonight". Surprisingly, he talked more about the flu and "nasty cold" going around the team (head coach Ed Cooley looked exhausted yesterday) than his back issues. But his consistent rehab and medication is going well, and the team doctors unanimously gave him the final nod.

You can't expect a lot out of Greg given the nature of his injury, but it certainly helps Fairfield's chances.

No. 3 Fairfield vs. No. 2 Canisius Game Blog

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mas MAAC Coverage

As if we're not doing enough, here's my favorite two other outlets for all things MAAC Championships:

As for a Fairfield update, the team is headed for a team meal at the Crowne-Plaza at 7pm. We'll hope to grab Cooley for a word or two sometime after that. Potentially, if all goes according to plan, we'll have an update on junior forward Greg Nero.

Chattin' women's basketball with Simmons

I ain't got time to bleed

When 'The Mirror's' own Chris Simmons asked women's basketball head coach Joe Frager about potential fatigue and Canisius' relatively fresh legs (their starters barely topped 13 minutes in this morning's win over Canisius) Joe Frager answered with, perhaps, the quote of the year: 

"Tired? If you're a competitor, tired isn't even in your vocabulary. You've got a lot of time to rest when this thing is all over. To heck with tired."

Think Coach Frager doesn't want a win tomorrow morning?

No. 3 Fairfield vs. No. 6 Siena Game Blog

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Real World: Albany

After a three-hour bus ride from Fairfield, a few VitaminWaters, and a classy open bar banquet later, and 'The Mirror Boys' have retreated to the Crowne-Plaza in Albany, N.Y. to relax and unwind for the night. Tomorrow and Saturday (assuming the Fairfield women pull out tomororw's game) will likely bring 15 hours and change of basketball, so we're trying to recharge our batteries for the weekend.

Here's a rundown of what's gone on so far:
  • Player of the Year's were slam-dunks choices (Siena's Kenny Hasbrouck and Marist's Rachele Fitz). Same, at least from my perspective, for Coach of the Year (Siena's Fran McCaffrey and Canisius' Terry Zeh)
  • An upset of sorts for men's Rookie of the Year, as Rider's Novar Gadson was edged by Iona's Scott Machado. Our main man, Ben Doody of 'The Trentonian,' will likely have plenty of commentary on this award, so I'll defer to him on this. I found this to basically be a toss-up. I heard some of what Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey said at the banquet, and he seemed to take the decision in stride, a far cry from his defensive press-conference on Sunday in Lawrenecville.
  • Saw Fairfield and Co. at the Crowne-Plaza. Just about thirty minutes ago the women's team was assembled in the lobby, heading to a late-night walk-through and (presumably) a pep talk. I'm sure that head coach Joe Frager will have them ready to roll come 11:30am tomorrow. He even skipped tonight's banquet to continue preparation.
  • A nice - and relaxed - head coach Ed Cooley made an appearance at the MAAC Championships Awards Banquet, dressed completely in black. As a Giants fan, I couldn't help but think of the team's flight to Phoenix a year ago for Super Bowl XLII, when everyone (players and coaches... and even Easy E) wore black suits and ties to take a stand against the supposed "funeral" game against the Pats. Maybe I'm overlooking it, but there could be something there. Cooley loves rallying cries.
  • I'd also like to think that the team is taking on Cooley's relaxed mood. Most of the players were roaming the halls and grabbing a bite to eat at the restaurant in the lobby. We even saw Mike Evanovich get some alone time and take a dip in the pool. Hey, whatever works.
More to come in the AM, including live game coverage and pre-, halftime, and post-game video from the Times-Union Center for the Stags game against Siena.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Team USA meets the Red Sea?

This from the desk of associate sports and information director Chris O'Connor:

"Former Fairfield University men's lacrosse players Greg Downing and Peter Vlahakis are among 84 players nationwide selected by US Lacrosse to try out for the 2010 U.S. men's lacrosse team that will compete in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship in Manchester, England from July 10-24, 2010. The tryouts will be held from June 7-10, 2009 at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.

A 2007 graduate of Fairfield, Downing is the Stags only three-time All-America selection, having earned honorable mention following her final three seasons. Downing finished his Fairfield career fourth all-time with 101 career goals and fifth with 141 points.

Vlahakis was a 2004 participant in the USILA North/South All-Star game, following his Stags playing career. He is all over the Stags record book in the face-of category, including the all-time leader with 620 face-off victories.

Fairfield is in its fourth season as a member of the ECAC Lacrosse League. The Stags are 1-1, having earned a season opening win over Delaware, 10-9, in Andy Copelan's first game as head coach. Fairfield is home on Saturday, March 7, when it hosts ECAC foe Rutgers, at Alumni Stadium, at 1 p.m."

All-MAAC'in it

Credit the Times-Union's Pete Iorizzo for breaking it first on his blog (I'll admit it, I saw it on his site before I even looked at the MAAC site myself), but the official, final All-MAAC teams have been released. For Fairfield, Greg Nero - despite his injury - was honored as a third-team selection. Baendu Lowenthal was an obvious slam dunk for first team on the women's side, and was joined by Stephania Geehan (third-team honors).

Here's a look at all of post-season team selections:


All-rookie team
Scott Machado, Iona
Anthony Winbush, Loyola
R.J. Hall, Marist
Novar Gadson, Rider
Kyle Downey, Siena

Bilal Benn, Niagara
Tyrone Lewis, Niagara
Ryan Thompson, Rider
Kenny Hasbrouck, Siena
Edwin Ubiles, Siena

Jamal Barney, Loyola
Ryan Schneider, Marist
Benson Egemonye, Niagara
Alex Franklin, Siena
Ronald Moore, Siena

Frank Turner, Canisius
Greg Nero, Fairfield
Gary Springer, Iona
Darryl Crawford, Manhattan
Wesley Jenkins, Saint Peter’s


Marie Warner, Canisius
Baendu Lowenthal, Fairfield
Thazina Cook, Iona
Rachele Fitz, Marist
Julianne Viani, Marist

Brittane Russell, Canisius
Kelly Regan, Manhattan
Tammy Meyers, Rider
Tania Kennedy, Saint Peter’s
Heather Stec, Siena

Amanda Cavo, Canisius
Stephanie Geehan, Fairfield
Anda Ivkovic, Iona
Erica Allenspach, Marist
Liz Flooks, Niagara

Cooley and Herbie's post-game thoughts

Despite the inherent disappointment in their voices, head coach Ed Cooley and senior guard Herbie Allen managed to maintain their optimism heading into next week's showdown against Manhattan in the MAAC Tournament. Cooley even sounded a bit excited toward the end.

Here's their unedited press conference. I'll have a column, a profile, and another random blog post later on today. Here's some things to note:
  • The 'we won a lot of battles today' line
  • Some lovin' for Sean Crawford
  • Cooley's hilarious 'Night Before you get married analogy' to Herbie, which was then directed at me.
  • A Nero update - sounds like he's going to give it a go in Albany. But Cooley referenced "a couple of active bodies". I guess that just means a well-rested group, because I can't see them forcing Peanut Johnson to play, and Warren's injury is most certainly season-ending.

Head Coach Ed Cooley

Opening remarks

Cooley: Obviously, I’m very, very proud of our effort; of our resiliency, especially down the stretch. We just couldn’t catch that last break. Whether they had a second shot. I definitely thought we had them on the ropes. We went with our full-court pressure. We just couldn’t get that one last rebound or that one last lay-up. But we have to try to put this one behind us quick and look forward to the MAAC Tournament. It’s the old cliché, but everyone is even going up there. We may be playing on someone’s home-court, but that’s a debate for another day. So, I’m really proud of our effort, and we’re looking forward to going up to Albany and giving it our best.

On the maturation of the team’s new lineup

Cooley: Well, it’s the only lineup I’ve got. I think our guys have done a really good job, I’ve been saying it now for a month. When you look at all the adversity, it’s helped us all grow in a lot of ways, not just from a basketball perspective but from a life perspective. Taking advantage of opportunity when it is given, and today was another good example to grow from. We may be on the losing end, but there were a lot of winning battles in this game.

On whether the team’s new lineup has changed the team’s identity

Cooley: Yeah, I think we have. Normally my teams are physical and long and girth-y and athletic. Again, but if you lose what we’ve lost… I told you guys the last time. If there is a coach in the country that can go through what we just went through, and win the game that we’ve won and compete the way that we’ve competed… send me that CD and take me to his clinic, because I want to buy stock now. It’s frustrating in some sense and rewarding in others, because we’ve seen so many other young man step up, in particular Herbie, whose here with us fighting through everything.

On the spark Sean Crawford provided off the bench

Cooley: Yeah, we talked about that in the locker room prior to us walking up. You know, again, someone stepping in… it was the right time and the right call for him. He gave us a big, big push. Hopefully it is something that he can continue to grow on. It was the right time to put him in.

On the quick turnaround to play Manhattan next weekend

Cooley: I think it is luck of the draw a little bit. Both teams are familiar with each other. I’m just glad we’re not playing Loyola. Two years in a row playing those guys up there and coming up short both times in the last possession, both games. I’m pretty sure Manhattan is happy to play us and we’re happy to play them, and that’s reality. If we do some little things, hopefully we’ll be fortune. We’ve got to get healthy, though. Got to get healthy. I’d love a couple of active bodies back that can help this young man go out in style.

On the status of forward Greg Nero

Cooley: Hopefully Greg watched. He’s actually home. He’s actually home resting. We’ll probably have a word on him Monday or Tuesday on his health.

Senior guard Herbie Allen

On his mindset heading into the MAAC Tournament

HA: I’m ready. We’re ready. We just have to come out this week. Come out and work on the little things that we did not do in this game, like box-out. We didn’t really box-out and get the rebounds; second shots really hurt us today. But our team always comes out and plays hard every game. I have no doubt that we came out (today) and played 110 percent. We’ve been in almost every game, except for one (at Niagara). I believe we kept ourselves in a hole. We were down nine in two different situations today, and we wasted a lot of energy trying to get back into the game. We just have to work on staying in the game and not getting ourselves into a deep hold. (Cooley: “That’s a great point”)

On whether he feels this ‘new’ Stags team can beat any team in the MAAC

HA: Absolutely, we’re going to play hard.

Cooley: Absolutely

On whether he approaches the MAAC Tournament differently because he is a senior

HA: I’m going to approach it like these last five or six games our team has played. We are going to come out and play hard and play forty minutes a game.

Cooley: I told Herbie, it is a lot like the night before you get married… these games like that. Do you really want to step to that altar? Oh. You’re saying to yourself, “This is it.” You guys will go through that, you wait and see. Absolutely. You can tell my wife that, I still think about that now.

In case you're in the Captial Region...

Here's a pocket schedule for next week's tourney:

Session I: Thursday, March 5, 2009 - Women's First Round

#7 Rider v. #10 Niagara                               12:00pm

#8 Manhattan v. #9 Loyola (Md.)                 2:00pm


Session II: Friday, March 6, 2009 - Women's Quarterfinals

#2 Canisius v. Rider/Niagara                      9:30am

#3 Fairfield v. #6 Siena                                11:30am

#1 Marist v. Manhattan/Loyola                     1:30pm

#4 St. Peter’s v. #5 Iona                               3:30pm


Session III: Friday, March 6, 2009 -Men's First Round

#8 Loyola v. #9 Canisius                              7:30pm

#7 Iona v. #10 Marist                                    9:30pm


Session IV: Saturday, March 7, 2009 - Women's Semifinals

Winner of Canisius/Play-In v. Fairfield/Siena         9:30am

Winner of Marist/Play-In v. Iona/St. Peters’            11:30am


Session V: Saturday, March 7, 2009 - Men's Quarterfinals

#4 Manhattan v. #5 Fairfield                                    2:30pm

#1 Siena v. Loyola/Canisius                                    5:00pm


Session VI: Saturday, March 7, 2009 - Men's Quarterfinals

#2 Niagara v. Iona/Marist                             7:30pm

#3 Rider v. #6 St. Peter’s                             10:00pm


Session VII: Sunday, March 8, 2009

Women's Championship Game (MSG)     12:00pm


Session VIII: Sunday, March 8, 2009 - Men's Semifinals

Manhattan/Fairfield v. Siena/Play-In                       6:00pm

Niagara/Play-In v. Rider/St. Peter’s                        8:30pm


Session IX: Monday, March 9, 2009 –

Men's Championship Game (ESPN2)                   9:00pm

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dempsey gets defensive

Here's some post-game quotes from Lawrenceville. I'll start with Rider, where head coach Tommy Dempsey used the press conference as a formu to voice his offense regarding supposed "harsh" coverage his team has received this season and the lack of recognition they're getting in league circles.  I suppose he's referring to the fact that the Broncs aren't really in conversation with the "MAAC Elite" (i.e. Siena and Niagara). But when you lose to St. Pete's and Canisius, what do you expect?

As for the 'consensus' comment, draw your own conclusions. But Ben Doody's words have readers drinking plenty of 'Hatorade' lately. 


Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey:

Opening remarks:

“Again, we just found a way to win. I think that’s what this team is pretty good at. It’s not always perfect, to say the least. I thought we were pretty sloppy today. But, again, we seem to come in here and talk about how it’s not perfect, but most of the time they’re wins. I think that, as you look back now… I know the consensus seems to be that it has been an up-and-down year, but the reality is that we have 18 wins, twelve league wins in a great league – I don’t consider that an up-and-down year. I think that’s a great year. We’ve won nine of our last twelve to end the season, and four in a row. That’s what I’m trying to focus on, the positives as we head into the MAAC tournament.


On his defensive reaction and his disagreements with public perception

“I think expectations have gotten to the point that the tone of everyone is always, “Ugh. That was sloppy. That was this, that was that.” I have to defend (my players) because look what we have done. The league is great. We’re three games clear of the team that finished fourth. We have beaten everybody in the league. I do feel like I have to defend. It’s been a very good year and I don’t feel like that is getting recognized right now.


On why that is the case

Just the consensus.


On the matchups against Fairfield today as compared to the (date) game at Alumni Hall

Well, they’re different right now. They’re big guys aren’t there. They’re playing a much quicker group and, in a strange way, they matched up (with us) a little bit better. Before the guys got hurt, they were so big and physical, and we were kind of stronger and quicker, whereas today they started a four-guard lineup and I felt they were able to guard us better. I thought their matchups, especially defensively, were better with this group versus when everybody was healthy.


On whether or not Fairfield’s lack of size and strength hurt them down the stretch

Yeah, I think we got the ball in the paint, we dominated the glass, we went to the free throw line – those kinds of things were the difference in the game. If we took care of the ball better, I think we would’ve been in better control of the game. We were a little sloppy today. I think we threw the ball around a little too much. 22 turnovers are very uncharacteristic of our teams. I think that is what gave them a chance to hang in the game.


Rider guard Ryan Thompson

If the team is playing with a chip on their shoulder due to a lack of recognition

Not really. It really doesn’t bother us. Everybody is competitive in this league. We take every game one-step at a time and treat every game as if it is our last.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Doody

Another Fairfield/Rider game, another 'Doody Calls' return to the Mirror Sports Blog.

Back by popular demand, the former E-I-C and current assistant sports editor/columnist at 'The Trentonian' was nice enough to sit down and chat with me about tomorrow's game and the state of our teams heading into tourney time. Ben's likely to be helping us (and maybe even crashing with us) with our wall-to-wall covearge in Albany, so be ready for plenty of quality input and insight come next weekend.

And without further adu...

Here's the Q's:
1. What is the fundamental difference between Rider now and the Rider team we saw at Alumni Hall in late January?
Ben Doody: Justin Robinson has moved permanently to the 2 (with Ryan Thompson at the point) and become a very serious scoring threat. Before the first Fairfield game, Robinson had scored in double figures four times in 15 games. Starting with that game, he's done so in nine out of 10 games, including the last seven in a row. One reason for that is he had arthroscopic knee surgery about three weeks before the season started, and it took him a while to get going. Another is that partially because Harris Mansell has been in and out of a shooting slump for most of the year, Rider has gone to Robinson more often. He's shooting 48 percent from 3, so I'd say they've been rewarded for doing so.

2. If Siena and Niagara are 1 and 1A in the MAAC, is Rider the hands-down "next best"?
B.D.: First, I agree that Niagara is No. 1A in the MAAC and not No. 2, which I wouldn't have said until the Purple Eagles took care of the Saints with such ease the other night in Lewison. As for as the best of the rest, you'd have to say it's the Broncs, since they're the only other team to have beaten Siena, and because they split with Niagara. But the gap between Niagara and Rider is bigger than the gap between Rider and the Manhattans and Fairfields of the world.

3. Post-season Awards: Is Ryan Thompson a first-team All-MAAC selection? Gadson a possible ROY?
B.D.: I think Thompson is a shoo-in for first-team all-MAAC and Gadson is in a two-way race with Scott Machado of Iona for ROY. Until the last two weeks, I thought Gadson was the clear frontrunner, but that was before Machado won two more ROWs and Gadson had several off-games. But Gadson took a step forward against Loyola. He was suspended for the first half for violating team rules (which can't help him but probably won't hurt him much either) and Rider trailed by 13 at the break. He scored 12 points in 13 minutes in the second half and Rider came back to win. To me, that's a pretty good demonstration of his value to his team.

4. Just by looking at season results, it seems as if the Broncs have been a bit streaky and an enigma (wins vs. Niagara and Siena, losses to Canisius, SPC). What gives?
B.D.: I think that's symptomatic of young teams. It's easy to forget because Thompson and Mansell are their most visible players, but seven of the first nine guys in their rotation are freshmen and sophomores. When you consider their ability to win without big-time performances from Mansell (the only contributor they'll lose to graduation), they should be better and much more consistent next year.

5. If Rider is to make a noise in Albany next week, (blank) must happen and (blank) must step up. [I think you know where I'm going with there. Any predictions are fine. Be as creative as you'd like.]
B.D.: The answer for the first blank is lights-out 3-point shooting, which they've gotten in both of their key wins this year. They shot 58 percent from 3 against Siena and 62 percent against Niagara. For the second blank, they'll need good performances from just about all of their regulars, but I'll say Mansell. When he's on, they have three very dangerous outside shooting threats (Thompson and Robinson being the others), which many teams don't have.

1. It's baseball season... any bold AL East Predictions?
B.D.: I don't think I wrote this anywhere, so I guess you'll have to take me at my word, but I predicted in our news room last March that the Rays would make the playoffs. Everyone laughed at me, then I laughed in their faces when the Rays went to the World Series. (Then they had the last laugh when the Phillies -- the team of choice in greater Trenton -- beat the Rays into submission in the World Series). Since the Rays making the playoffs is no longer an absurd concept and the Blue Jays and Orioles both totally stink, I don't have anything bold for you. I'll just second Baseball Prospectus' opinion and pick the Red Sox to go 98-64 and win the division and the Yankees to go 96-66 and win the Wild Card. Then the Red Sox will beat the Yankees in six games in the ALCS before losing to the Cubs in the World Series. Now there's an absurd prediction for you.