Men’s College Basketball
Rider Announces 2014-15 Non-Conference Schedule
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—A short trip to cross town rival Princeton University and a trip to the University of Kansas highlight the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 Rider University men’s basketball schedule, which also includes a return to the Orlando Classic.
“Scheduling is very important,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, “and you have to find that balance. We need to play teams better than we are so we can get our players better, get them to improve, but at the same time you want to schedule teams that you have an opportunity to compete with and win the game.”
The Broncs begin the season 6.3 miles up the road at Princeton November 14. “We had one of our worst losses two years ago at Jadwin so we are looking forward to going back and having an opportunity to be on the better end this time around,” Baggett said. “The fans and the people in the community always like this rivalry.”
Rider travels to Philadelphia to play in the historic Palestra, taking on the Penn Quakers November 18. “Penn was young when we beat them last year but they have some good recruits coming in,” Baggett said. “I expect that to be another barn-burner.” Last year Rider won 89-88. “We know going in it will be another tough opponent. The last time we played at the Palestra we weren’t that successful.”
The home opener is November 21 when Rider hosts Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks hosted Rider in the opener last year and shot 59 percent from the field, 60 percent from three point range. “I don’t think they still have missed a shot.” Baggett said. “We’re looking forward to getting them in our home and hopefully we can do the same to them. We know they are good and well coached.”
The last week of November will be spent on the road, traveling to the 59-year old Phog Allen Fieldhouse to take on the Kansas Jayhawks November 24 as part of the Orlando Classic. “Our guys are excited to play Kansas and to also play Kansas at Kansas,” Baggett said. “The last time I was there I was on an official visit and Larry Brown was the head coach.”
The Broncs played in the Old Spice Classic in 2008 and return to Orlando this year in a field that includes Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Marquette, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Santa Clara. “This might be one of the toughest fields yet,” Baggett said.
Rider went 1-2 last time at Disney and will play November 27, 28 and 30 this year. “We beat Penn State and lost to Kansas State and NC State in games we had a chance to win late in the contest,” Baggett said. “I’m excited that we get to play some great teams and excited for the guys to go away and do some team bonding.”
Two of the four December games are home, Morgan State on December 18 and Central Connecticut December 3. “Morgan State ended up in the championship game of the MEAC,” Baggett said. “That is a challenge. We played really well at Central Connecticut last year (89-73 win) but they could be one of the better teams in the Northeast Conference this year.”
Rider travels to Hartford December 13. The Broncs won at Hartford in the CIT in 2013. “That group we beat is back for its senior year so Hartford is going to be very tough,” Baggett said.
Rider brings 2014 to a close with a December 29 game at Wagner. “Wagner finished last year really strong in the NEC,” Baggett said. Rider beat Wagner 79-58 last season. “They have a lot of new players this year,” Baggett said of the Seahawks.
“Scheduling is probably one of the top three things I do as a coach, as far as importance,” Baggett said, “but of all the things I do scheduling ranks near the bottom as far as something I enjoy to do. It’s tough. It is hard to get teams to come play us at Rider.”
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule will be released in September.