Sunday, February 27, 2011

Women's Preview: Rider vs. St. Peter's

Here's another in the series previewing the upcoming women's MAAC post-season tournament.

No. 7 Saint Peter's (5-13, 5-24) vs. No. 8 Rider (5-13, 5-24), Thursday at 2 p.m.

WHAT SAINT PETER'S HAS: Strong youth ... that recurring theme, again. Off-guard Theresa Manigrasso and point guard Aziza May are two of the top freshman guards in the league. Jynae Judson is a 2nd-team all-MAAC pick. And, the Peacocks seem to be getting things together at the right time. They ended an 11-game losing streak this past weekend with wins over Rider and, then, the biggest upset of the women's season ... .a 60-57 victory at Loyola, handing the Greyhounds their third loss of the conference season. The only other team to beat Loyola this season was Marist.

WHAT RIDER HAS: Yes, young talent. Freshan forward MyNeshia McKenzie is the top frosh rebounder in the MAAC (7.30) and has an emerging offensive game. Sophomore 6-2 Caitlin Bopp (8.5) is No. 2 in the conference in rebounding. Junior Sarah Homan, a 6-3 forward, gets 6.2 rebounds per game. Rider is the conference's second-best rebounding team.

WHAT SAINT PETER'S DOESN'T HAVE: Enough experience to go very far. The Peahens still play bruising defense and still crash the offensive boards in traditional fashion, but don't have the height to make that style effective. Senior forward Jessica Coles, a slender 6-footer, is the tallest starter. Quiana Porter, at 6-2, provides the team's only height but she's a reserve. And the team doesn't take care of the ball very well when it's not in Aziza's hands. Judson has 111 turnovers, an unusually high amount for a player who isn't the team's primary ball-handler.

WHAT RIDER DOESN'T HAVE: Outside of its ability to pound the boards effectively ... not much else. The Broncs finished 9th in the conference in scoring (52.4 points per game) and last in points allowed (69.1), last in field-goal defense and 3-point field-goal defense. It also committed more turnovers than any other league team by 22 total.

HOW SAINT PETER'S CAN WIN: Play like it did against Loyola, earning a 49-36 edge in rebounding that resulted in 15 more shots than the Greyhounds took. Still, teams taller than Loyola, and there are several in the MAAC, won't allow the Peahens to control the boards like they did in that contest. Saint Peter's could advance to the quarterfinal round, but almost assuredly won't go farther than that.

HOW RIDER CAN WIN: Somehow find an offensive game, and play better defense ... but that's a mouthful. Its inside players all need develop a better touch around the basket. That's probably coming in the future, but probably not this season.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: The winner advances to Friday's 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal round contest against top-seeded Marist.

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