Playing the hot hand, Thompson vital in MAAC playoffs

By David Pavlak

From top to bottom, in  every sport, both collegiate and professional, there are locker-room guys who are there to help build chemistry. These players may not always be the ones putting up the most points night after night or making the highlight reel plays, but they are the glue of the team — they keep everything together during the good times and in times of distress.

Thankfully for the Broncs, they have the character locker-room guy who also knows how to score and defend the basket.

Jon Thompson of the men’s basketball team is made of so much glue, you might as well call him Elmer’s.

One of two seniors on the team this year, Thompson leads the Broncs in scoring, averaging 12.8 ppg. Over the past 10 games, the Broncs have gone 7-3, dropping games to Manhattan, Iona and Fairfield while picking up two wins over Marist and first-place Niagara, and one against St. Peter’s, Charleston Southern and Canisius.

As he helped the Broncs achieve the second seed in the MAAC championship, Thompson’s numbers spoke for themselves, as he averaged 17.3 ppg:

Manhattan – 18 points

Fairfield – 10 points

Marist – 23 points

Niagara – 18 points

Iona – 26 points

St. Peter’s – 14 points

Marist – 13 points

Charleston S. – 15 points

Niagara – 25 points

Canisius – 11 points

Where Thompson really shines is on the defensive side of the game. Against talented Niagara guard Juan’ya Green, one of the top contenders for the MAAC Player of the Year award, Thompson held him to shooting 1-16 from the field, finishing the first meeting between the two teams with a lowly two points. Green is averaging 17 ppg this season.

During the second meeting between Niagara and the Broncs, Green shot 9-19 and scored 27 points. How did Thompson respond? He shot 8-13 and knocked down 25 points of his own, virtually wiping away the work of the talented guard. The rest of the Broncs outscored Niagara and Rider won 68-59.

As the Broncs sit with the number two seed in the MAAC championship, they will take on the winner of the Fairfield vs. St. Peter’s matchup. The Broncs won both contests against St. Peter’s this season, 66-54 and 72-57. However, Rider lost both games against the Stags, 52-65 and 59-69.

Rider is looking to get back to the MAAC championship finale for the first time since 2008 when they lost to Siena, 53-74. The Broncs have yet to win the whole thing. If Thompson continues his dominant streak, there might be some new hardware in the Broncs’ future.

 

Contact this writer at pavlakd@theridernews.com

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