Just like that, Rider basketball fans have gone from fervent followers of their team to merely casual observers of the upcoming NCAA tournament. The only thing worse than watching the Broncs’ play in last night’s 43 – 42 upset loss to Fairfield in the MAAC Conference Quarterfinal game, was listening to color analyst Rob Kennedy say at least six times during the course of the game, “neither team is going to concede anything.” Hey guy, thanks for that brilliant insight.
In my last post, I laid out what Rider needed to do (in some cases, what not to do) in order to beat the Fairfield Stags. Here’s a review of those keys to the game:
For me, the biggest reason why Rider lost this game was because they committed 21 turnovers. Coming into the game, Rider was averaging just over 15 turnovers per game in the regular season. That was enough to put them in the 14.3 percentile in that category of Division I schools. Sloppy play did Rider in in the first half: mostly errant passes to nobody in particular, but the Broncs also committed several traveling violations. Junior forward Daniel Stewart was called for two and he led Rider with five turnovers in the game. Guards Zedric Sadler, Anthony Myles and Nurideen Lindsey each had three turnovers.
Controlling Offensive Rebounds
Unlike the teams’ previous two contests, Rider actually had more offensive rebounds than the Stags in last night’s game (15 – 8). It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rider also led in second-chance points (12 – 8).
Stopping Maurice Barrow
The opposing player I was most concerned about coming into the game, Fairfield junior forward Maurice Barrow, really didn’t have a very strong game at all. He had nine points, five rebounds and an assist in 40 minutes of play. Rider left him open on three three-point attempts and he missed all of them. To his credit he took a charging call in the first half which, to me, looked like he was moving his feet and he should have been called for a blocking foul. In the second half, he did sprint down the court to make a very nice block on what would have been an easy layup for a Rider player. Aside from those two plays, he was really a non-factor in the game.
There were a few things I didn’t account for in this game:
- Fairfield senior guard Derek Needham is very good. He had 19 points, two assists, two steals, and only three turnovers in 32 minutes of playing time.
- Rider had 14 points in the first half. In fact, Rider’s last points of the half came with 5:28 remaining. Their last field goal came with 9:08 remaining.
- Neither team shot well in the first half. Rider was especially lacking at the free-throw line, shooting a measly 4 – 10 from the charity stripe.
- Rider’s transition defense was terrible. This means that Rider was on the offensive side of the court, or in other words, the basket that Fairfield was defending. Rider would either miss a shot and Fairfield would get a rebound, or Fairfield would get a steal or block and create a scoring opportunity going the other direction. In these “fast-break” opportunities, Fairfield had eight points while Rider had zero.
This is the second year in a row that the Fairfield Stags have ended Rider’s season in the conference tournament. But Fairfield has just been upset by the sixth-seeded Manhattan Jaspers. In the other conference bracket, the fourth-seeded Iona Gaels have upset the number-one ranked (and projected MAAC representative in the NCAA Tournament) Niagara Purple Eagles. I may not have a dog in this fight anymore, but even as a casual observer of the NCAA Tournament, I’m pretty psyched to see a conference championship between a four seed and a six seed.
Let the Madness in March continue!
Would you watch the NCAA Tournament if your school was eliminated before it started? Leave a comment below.