Men’s College Basketball
Season Begins Tuesday
BETHLEHEM, PA—The 2013-14 basketball season begins Tuesday night as the Broncs take on the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh University.
"We're excited that the season is finally here," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, "and we are looking forward to playing Lehigh Tuesday night."
Rider won the 2012-13 season opener at home against Robert Morris and won the 2009-10 season opener at #18 Mississippi State.
Lehigh (0-1) began the season Friday, losing 81-62 at the University of Minnesota. In that game senior Mackey McKnight, a Preseason All-Patriot League pick and the leading returning scorer from last year (11.9 points and compiled a team-high 93 assists), compiled 18 points. Austin Price added 15 points and Jesse Chuku grabbed 10 rebounds for the Mountain Hawks.
The Mountain Hawks have 15 players from 15 states on their roster, including three from outside the United States. Lehigh is picked to finish sixth in the 10-team Patriot League.
Lehigh enjoyed three 20-win seasons with three national postseason appearances in the last four years, but graduated C. J. McCollum, who is now a member of the Portland Trailblazers. “I congratulate their program for producing an NBA lottery pick last year,” Baggett said, “but I’m glad he’s gone.”
Lehigh also graduated its second and third leading scorers from last year. Lehigh has won 25 of its last 29 games in Stabler Arena and is 117-37 (.760) at home in the last 11 years. Lehigh won the Patriot League in 2012, 2010 and 2004.
The Broncs and Engineers (nickname at that time) were Middle Atlantic Conference (early 1970s) and East Coast Conference rivals (1974 to 1990). The series history began in 1965-66 and Rider holds a 31-20 advantage. Rider won the last two meetings, 86-71 on November 16, 2009 at Rider and 69-68 on November 20, 2008 here in Bethlehem. Before that the last meeting was a 76-69 Lehigh ECC victory during the 1989-90 season, Lehigh’s fifth win in a row over Rider.
The Broncs return a pair of Preseason Second Team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference performers, senior guard Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) and senior forward Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti). Stewart already ranks 13th in career rebounding at Rider (694) and needs just 36 points for 1,000. Myles needs 86 points for 1,000.
The key newcomers are a pair of freshmen from Florida, point guard Jimmie Taylor (Suwannee, Fla./Suwannee)and forward Kahlil Thomas (Parkway, Fla./Blanche Ely). Both enjoyed their Alumni Gymnasium debut, with Thomas compiling 23 points, six rebounds and three steals in the exhibition win over Division II East Stroudsburg, while Taylor added 14 points, three rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Rider-Lehigh game can be heard on 107.7 FM The Bronc and on www.GoBroncs.com. The game is also televised on the Patriot League Network. The free video can be viewed here: http://www.lehighsports.com/sports/2013/6/4/Broadcasts.aspx