This is somewhat of a first for Rider head coach Kevin Baggett.
After winning MAAC Coach of the Year and leading his team to their first 20-win season since 2011, his name has begun to surface in rumors around the vacant head coaching openings at Fordham and George Mason of the Atlantic 10.
The 48 year-old Baggett received his first head coaching opportunity quickly after his former boss Tommy Dempsey left Rider to go to Binghamton in May 2012.
“I just think it speaks for not only the last couple of years, but it speaks for even being an assistant, I’ve been in this thing 19 years, finally glad that I’m getting some type of recognition,” Baggett said. “But it doesn’t come just because of me, it comes because of the guys that I have around me, our players, our coaches and I’m appreciative of everybody because you can’t get there alone.”
“So when I have opportunities and people have interest, it’s a blessing to the people that are involved in my coaching and in my life that are helping me to get to where I am, including my athletic director and our administration, which has been great and very supportive in helping us get there.”
It’s also a lot easier to ask “What if?”, after the Broncs lost senior and first team All-MAAC center Matt Lopez to an ACL tear. Baggett’s team would have had a better shot in Albany had the 7′ senior been available and possibly broken the school’s two decade drought for an NCAA tournament appearance. The Broncs’ chances ended in the MAAC tournament quarterfinals when they fell to Saint Peter’s 68-59.
Baggett was an assistant at Rider for six seasons and associate head coach to Dempsey for four years, before being quickly elevated to the head coaching job. When Dempsey took the job at Binghamton, Rider closed in and hired Baggett on the same day the America East school announced its hire.
So entering the coaching carousel, as a head coach, is a new position for Baggett. However, he enters from a position of strength, even after meeting with both openings, he will either stay at Rider, possibly get a contract extension, or get a new job; seemingly a win-win situation.
“It’s all speculation, that’s pretty much what it is at this point,” Baggett said. “I can just say I’m appreciative of people that have taken interest in me and that’s where I’m at. I’m at Rider, I’m loving Rider and I’m enjoying the opportunity.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.