2008-09 Rider Basketball Preview: #120
Overall Rank: #120
Conference Rank: #3 Metro Atlantic
2007-08: 23-11, 13-5, 1st
2007-08 postseason: CBI
Rider cannot lose a player like Jason Thompson and be better. Thompson, who was drafted 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings, averaged 20.4 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks during his last season with the Broncs. But the proverbial cupboard is nowhere near empty. Coach Tommy Dempsey’s team will take a step back this year, but they can also begin to cement themselves as an upper echelon team in the conference.
Besides Thompson, Rider only lost a couple roleplayers. Forward Joel Green and guard Kamron Warner averaged around ten minutes per game. Green’s experience would be helpful for what is now an inexperienced group, but Rider fans will only be focusing on the absence of Thompson…and rightfully so.
Can any of the newcomers at least play Thompson’s old position? At 6-8, Jermaine Jackson certainly has the size to play the five spot in the MAAC. However, the lefty is not your traditional big man. Jackson can knock down the three-pointer and use his athleticism to get to the basket off the dribble. His skills put him at the small forward spot, but his size will force him into the four and five spots for now. But it is not like having a 6-8 guy who can shoot the ball and beat opposing big guys off the dribble is a bad thing. Brandon Penn and Novar Gadson will add some size to the wings. Unless Rider plays small a lot, which is very possible, Penn and Gadson will be a ways down the depth chart this season. A.J. Fofanah, a walk-on guard, will also be suiting up for the Broncs this year.
Who to Watch:
He might be shorter, but Ryan Thompson is hardly the forgotten Thompson brother. At least he will not end up that way. As a sophomore last year, the younger Thompson ranked second only to his brother in points, rebounds and blocked shots. The 6-6 guard also dished out a 3.4 assists and had 1.7 steals per contest…both team highs. There will still be a Thompson leading this team and he will have plenty of other weapons in the backcourt. Harris Mansell is a superb shooter from beyond the arc and Justin Robinson showed plenty of promise during his freshman year running the point. Add Lamar Johnson, Matt Griffin and Harris’ brother, Patrick, to the mix and Rider has a ton of depth and experience on the perimeter.
They will need that experience in the backcourt since Mike Ringgold is the lone returning forward on the roster who played more than four minutes a game last year. Ringgold, a 6-7 sophomore, started all but one game as a freshman and proved to be a capable scorer around the basket and a tough rebounder. His airball to hit free-throw ratio is way too close to even and he only hit 31.5 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe. If Ringgold expects to become a better scorer around the basket, which he is very capable of doing, he will have to start hitting his free-throws much, much more consistently. It is possible that Ringgold could play the five spot and Thompson could play the four. It will be a little different for Rider running a four guard offense, but having a 6-6 guard like Thompson, who has plenty of toughness and defensive versatility, will make it much easier. That will be the only way to get the best five players on the floor at the same time, especially while the newcomers adjust to their roles, so do not be surprised to see the Broncs play small from time to time.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Justin Robinson, Sophomore, Guard, 6.4 points per game
Harris Mansell, Senior, Guard, 13.7 points per game
Lamar Johnson, Senior, Guard, 4.6 points per game
Ryan Thompson, Junior, Guard, 15.0 points per game
Mike Ringgold, Sophomore, Forward, 7.1 points per game