Bryan Smith broke out of his shell today, scoring 15 points in Fordham's 81-75 win over Siena. (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)
Head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"These are trying times in that I'm not accustomed to winning games when you let your opponent shoot 54 percent from the floor. We showed them we were immature because we thought the game was over when we were up sixteen. (in the second half) We let them back into the game. This is the reason why we won: (points to Chris Gaston and Branden Frazier, both of whom were alongside him in the press conference) Our veterans stepped up. That, and the home crowd."
On what he can take away from the win:
"We have to get one of our bigs playing at a high level. Our margin for error is so small because of our lack of experience. When you attack zones, you can't let them put you to sleep."
On what he thought were the turning points in the second half:
"The things that won the game for us were Mandell's (Thomas) Jordan-esque block and Branden's back tap."
On Mandell Thomas: (8 points, 4 rebounds)
"He's earning minutes, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him in the starting lineup shortly."
On Bryan Smith: (15 points on 6-of-10 shooting)
"He was good, he was really good. When you look at the big wins we've had, Bryan Smith scores, and we need that third option."
On Siena in general:
"They're better than their record, and I told Mitch (Buonaguro, Siena's head coach) that."
Chris Gaston (25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) on Siena's adjustments against him in the second half:
"They doubled down on me, so I tried to play more of an overall game."
On playing at Rose Hill Gym:
"I love it here. It's a great experience, always has been."
Branden Frazier (20 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds) on his performance and clutch mentality:
"I felt like they wanted to double me off the screens. Basically, I was just feeding it to Chris. I want to be the guy who goes to the free throw line and makes it. That's my mindset."
Nuggets of Note:
- First and foremost, guard Khalid Robinson suffered a sprained MCL this week in practice; and will be out 2-3 weeks according to Pecora, which will sideline him at least through the end of nonconference play, and possibly through the Rams' first two Atlantic 10 matchups against Duquesne and Massachusetts as well.
- Today's win was Fordham's first wire-to-wire victory of the year, and a big reason why the Rams never trailed was their astounding 69 percent shooting from the field in the first half and 59 percent for the game. Fordham also had a plus-2 assist to turnover margin, (20 helpers versus 18 miscues) and scored 19 first-half points off just eight Siena turnovers.
- The 47-point opening half for Fordham obliterated their previous season high of 37 over the first stanza, and Chris Gaston scored 20 of his game-high 25 in the opening half. Conversely, Branden Frazier continued to shine in crunch time, with fourteen of his twenty points coming after the intermission. Frazier's ball handling was also spectacular, with ten assists against just three turnovers.
- The Rams allowed four Siena players to score in double figures, but Fordham really made O.D. Anosike, Siena's MAAC Player of the Year candidate who is usually a walking double-double, uncomfortable early and often. The senior forward from Staten Island finished with just 16 points and six rebounds, but was double-teamed in the paint frequently as Chris Gaston got the better hand of his defensive matchup.
- Finally, Bryan Smith came out firing from the opening tip, knocking down a wide-open three from the left corner for the game's first basket, and ended the day with a 15-point effort on 6-of-10 shooting, a far cry from his enigmatic and somewhat inconsistent recent performances.
Fordham hits the road after the Christmas holiday, taking on Georgia Tech Saturday in Atlanta before returning to Rose Hill for a 4pm New Year's Eve tipoff against Monmouth.