Team preview: Rider

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 20, 2004, 3:37 PM ET
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COACH AND PROGRAM

Don Harnum crosses over, just for a moment, to discuss how he'd attempt to defend Jerry Johnson.

"I think he's kind of a scary guy to prepare for because he's so capable of dominating a game," the Rider coach says of his star guard. "His whole game starts with his ability to shoot from long range off the dribble and he's probably the fastest guy in the league with the ball. He's a nightmare [to play against] in transition defense.

"He's a clutch player. He's made big shots his whole career and he's not afraid to take and make big shots. It's a lot more settling for me to know that he's on our side."

Settling, indeed.

Johnson, a 6-0 senior, has made life easier for Harnum since the moment he arrived on campus from J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa. He was voted MAAC Rookie of the Year after his freshman season, earned first-team All-MAAC honors as a sophomore and junior and has been selected second-team All-MET by the All-Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association the last two years.

With 1,494 career points, Johnson already ranks seventh in Rider history and -- barring any unforeseen circumstances -- will end his career second on the all-time list. Last season he ranked fourth in the MAAC in scoring (18.7 ppg), second in 3-point field goals made (2.71 per game), fifth in free-throw percentage (.816), and sixth in assists (3.9 apg), steals (1.61 spg) and 3-point field-goal percentage (.400). He also averaged 3.4 rebounds per game.

Now, the really scary part.

"He's gotten better every year," Harnum said. "He's playing more like a point guard now than he ever has."

"The encouraging thing is that as good as his stats are and as dominant as he is, I don't think that we are going to be a one-man crew this year."

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