Chaz Williams left yet another strong impression against former coach Tom Pecora, as former Hofstra guard scored 22 points in UMass' 77-73 victory over Fordham. (Photo courtesy of CollegeChalkTalk.com)
Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"I was very disappointed in the way we came out, the inability to pay attention to detail and execute the game plan. You've got to be locked in, (in this league) the teams are too good. Hope is not a game plan. It was a golden opportunity for us, we could have come out of the gate 2-0 in the league, but you expend so much energy in digging yourself out of a hole that we just couldn't get over the top."
On Fordham's lack of execution:
"We came out immature. Between me, Chris Gaston and Branden Frazier, we've got to get through to these young guys. Until we defend and execute every possession like it's the last possession of the season, for the A-10 championship, WE WILL NOT WIN CONSISTENTLY. THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE. It was disrespectful to the game of basketball and what we've been working on. Two years ago, I'd have been happy with this performance, but now we're beyond that. It bothers me when we let opportunities like this slip by."
On UMass' Chaz Williams, (22 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) who he once coached at Hofstra:
"He was dominant as always. He's the ultimate point guard. Whenever we're not playing against him, I root for him."
UMass head coach Derek Kellogg on Williams:
"He's starting to play complete basketball games. We need him to play that way right now, especially with Jesse (Morgan) injured."
On Fordham and their frontcourt:
"That's a team that's going to do well in the conference, especially at home. They have a nice little setup here and they do great things. I like the size of those guys, and we recruited (Ryan) Canty. They just need some playing time to fully mature...I think it's great that they still have Gaston around to learn from. They have some great pieces under the boards."
On Gaston and Frazier shooting a combined 2-for-17 in the first half and getting better as the game went on:
"I was kind of waiting for that little storm to come."
Chaz Williams on the physical style of play:
"Being a kid that grew up in Brooklyn, that's how we play."
Nuggets of Note:
- The double-double for Chris Gaston (20 points, 13 rebounds) was the fourth of his season and 56th of his career. Branden Frazier led Fordham with 21 points, and both Gaston and Frazier had 18 points each in the second half, following a first stanza where they shot a combined 2-for-17.
- The frontcourt has a promising future. Ryan Canty had another solid game before fouling out, (6 points, 13 rebounds) and Travion Leonard had one of his better games in a Fordham uniform, especially under the rim.
- Despite outrebounding the Minutemen 55-42, Fordham only had six assists while committing 14 turnovers. The Rams also outscored UMass 22-12 on second chance points, but were dominated on fast breaks to the tune of 17-4, with most of the transition offense coming from Chaz Williams, a one-time guard for Pecora at Hofstra before transferring in the wake of his dismissal and resurfacing at Fordham.
- Terrell Vinson dominated Fordham with 16 first-half points, but was a nonfactor after the intermission. In his absence, UMass got 12 points off the bench from Trey Davis, whose four free throws in the final seconds helped preserve the victory; as well as 11 from Freddie Riley, who got the start in place of an injured Jesse Morgan. Said Derek Kellogg of Riley: "It's great to see him mature and become an all-around basketball player."
- Finally, although he is listed at only 5-9, (he looks even smaller than myself, and I am 5-7) Chaz Williams is the epitome of an explosive floor general. With his innate ability to set his teammates up while simultaneously creating his own opportunities, he is very reminiscent (at least in my opinion) of a smaller and faster Scott Machado, the former Iona point guard and reigning MAAC Player of the Year who saw limited action for the Houston Rockets earlier in the season.
Fordham returns home to Rose Hill one week from Saturday following a two-game road trip to Charlotte and Dayton by hosting the Rhode Island Rams on January 26th in what amounts to a homecoming for Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley, the New Jersey native who led Wagner to a 25-win season one year ago.