When it comes to a "go-to" guy to talk about just about anything MAAC related, Rider coach Tommy Dempsey has become one of the best because he is nothing but honest, a trait very much appreciated by those of us who write about the conference.
The latest evidence of that is Dempsey's admission that he cast the lone non-Siena vote in the preseason poll designed to predict the upcoming season's order of finish. And, he readily admitted that the team he picked to win the regular-season title this year is his own.
Here's how Dempsey defended his vote, as reported by Pete Iorizzo of the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union:
"I'm not going out of my way to disrespect Siena," Dempsey said. "I would never do that. But the kids have to know that I believe in them. If I go and pick Siena first, what does that say in my own locker room?
"I think Siena’s terrific. I think Fran’s (McCaffery) a terrific coach. I think Niagara’s terrific. I think Joe (Mihalich) is a terrific coach. But I can’t worry about their programs. I have to worry about our own.”
Dempsey went on to say that he's not concerned about whether Siena uses his vote as bulletin-board fodder and additional motivation.
"They don't need to be motivated by us," Dempsey said. "They know they have the bull's-eyes on their backs. They know everybody is coming to get them. I think we're 3-3 in our last six games against them. Their kids will be plenty motivated when we come in to town on (Dec.) 23rd."
What's wrong with Dempsey's pick, and his subsequent comments?
Absolutely nothing. His team has four very good starters returning, including the preseason pick for the conference's Player of the Year in 6-6 guard Ryan Thompson. The team also has a strong transfer, Jhamar Youngblood from Monmouth (where he was the Northeast Conference's Rookie of the Year as a freshmen) coming in to complete a strong starting five. Depth there is solid.
Rider is, in everyone's opinion, one of the conference's top three teams this season.
Dempsey used the preseason coaches' poll to let his team know what he thought of it, to instill a dose of confidence.
What's wrong with that? Dempsey is just being honest, and that's always the best policy.