Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fordham/Northwood Preview

Fordham gets a visit from a legend tomorrow night, as Rollie Massimino and Northwood University come to Rose Hill for lone exhibition game Rams will play before November 8th season opener. (Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Daily News)

Tomorrow night's exhibition game at Fordham will be an interesting contest for a number of reasons.

First, there is the start of the new season, a time where everything you build comes to life, and also a time in which Ram fans eagerly await the coming of head coach Tom Pecora's vision of the future to fruition. This said future became brighter than it had ever been in recent years this past April, when Jon Severe spurned several high-major programs on the heels of being named Mr. Basketball in New York State to sign with Fordham and join the backcourt duo of Branden Frazier and Mandell Thomas.

Second, it gives Pecora an opportunity to test several different lineups as he prepares for his fourth season at the helm in the Bronx, a campaign that officially gets underway one week from tomorrow against Saint Francis University. Despite the talent Fordham possesses in the backcourt, the Rams are already somewhat thin up front; as not only was Manny Suarez ruled a partial qualifier, forcing him to redshirt this season, but both Travion Leonard and Ryan Canty have battled back injuries during practice as well. The two are expected to play tomorrow, with Leonard to be used sparingly according to Pecora, who could very well start freshman wing Jake Fay in the paint alongside Ryan Rhoomes.

Finally, the precursor to the season will be graced with a magical aura on the opposing bench, as soon-to-be enshrined Hall of Famer Rollie Massimino leads Northwood University into battle against Fordham and Pecora, his one-time protege at UNLV in the mid-1990s, where the architect of Villanova's 1985 national championship team gave Pecora his start in the college coaching ranks as an assistant on the Rebels' staff.

The Seahawks, who finished 30-4 last season behind a seven-man senior class led by former Iona castoff Ra'Shad James, averaged 87 points per game a year ago, but will now entrust their offense to sophomore shooting guard Kevin McDuffie, Northwood's top returning scorer with a 4.8 point per game average off the bench as a freshman. Senior Jerrod Owens is the leading candidate to replace Tyrone Davis and his eight assists per game at the point guard spot, while burgeoning junior big man Stephon Smith arrives from San Jose State to provide much-needed size on a front line that Fordham should be able to match up with easily. Northwood plays a second exhibition game Sunday against Penn State before opening their season a week from tonight against Clearwater Christian.

For the Rams, hope springs anew once again, beginning tomorrow night.

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