By Jordan Hall
With the exception of Pittsburgh, Rider’s first three games of the 2011-12 regular season aren’t eye-popping, but the Broncs face serious challenges to open the year.
On Friday, Rider travels to Robert Morris for a showdown with the Colonials of the NEC. Robert Morris is not a household name, but the Colonials were picked to finish second in the NEC, return four starters from last season and have made two of the last three NCAA Tournaments.
One day later, the Broncs play the 10th ranked team in the country in one of the most feared arena’s in all college basketball. Rider squares off with Pittsburgh, a member of the Big East who is 149-12 in the Petersen Events Center, its home floor.
The Panthers also welcome back the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, senior guard Ashton Gibbs who shunned the NBA Draft for one more year of college ball.
Following their Western Pa. road trip, the Broncs return to campus for their highly anticipated home opener against Drexel on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 6 a.m. Yes, at six in the morning, Rider will battle the Dragons on ESPN as part of their 24-hour college basketball marathon.
Drexel is a big, physical club who is seen as a mid-major elite. Head Coach Bruiser Flint’s squad is picked by many experts to win the CAA, a conference that was slated as a top-10 league in America by CBSSports.com.
Rider faithful, do not be upset if the Broncs string together a 1-2 or an 0-3 start. The schedule starts tough, but tough is good. Rider wants to be challenged, and it’s getting just that.