Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fordham 79, Manhattan 75: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Jon Severe, Tom Pecora and Branden Frazier meet the media after Fordham's 79-75 win over Manhattan, one of Rams' biggest victories in recent years. (Photo courtesy of Jaden Daly)

Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello's opening statement:
"Tough loss for Manhattan. Any questions?"

Masiello on Michael Alvarado's three-point shot in the final minute:
"They went under on a pick and roll. I would have liked to have seen us go off the bounce and attack the rim. It's a good shot, he's wide open, I'll take that every day of the week."

On Jon Severe (30 points):
"He's a talented young man who could really play. There's a reason he's Mr. Basketball, he's a terrific young player who I have a lot of respect for."

On attacking the glass against an undersized Fordham team:
"I would have liked to have seen our guys be able to play, that's what I would have liked to see. I like to see our guys be able to play and allow us to play physical and show our front line, that's what I would have liked, but it's tough to do that apparently, but we'll adjust to that and we'll go from there. I thought Rhamel (Brown) did a terrific job tonight, I thought he gave us a lot of effort, a lot of good things."

When asked if he disagreed with a foul call:
"I don't get into officiating, it's not my job. I coach my team, good, bad, or indifferent. I don't comment on officiating, I just worry about my team and coach it."

On new emphasis on rule enforcement:
"Tom Izzo said it best. I believe his quote, I don't want to misquote him, but he said after the Barclays Center games that he's going to just tell his players to drive in, create contact, throw the basketball up and worry about foul shooting, because it's taking away defensive advantages for schemes and scouting purposes. I have to learn the rules better and try to do a better job, and I'll do that. If you ask me how I feel, just take Tom Izzo's article, whatever he said, I agree. Steve Masiello agrees with Coach Izzo."

On the first month of the season:
"It's been fun, I've had fun coaching the team. It's been exciting, we've been in some good games, been in some bad games. The good thing for us is it's not conference play. We've just got to get better, and I think we will. I like our pieces, our talent, I like our kids. I'm having a good time, win or lose, I love what I do. It's a good group to be around, they want it, they're in it for the right reasons."

On signs of growth:
"I think we're getting better, we held them to 26 percent in the second half. The problem is you gave a good team 53 percent, it gave them confidence to play with you. That's going to happen, they come in and they shoot 81 percent from the free throw line in the second half, they get to the free throw line 22 times to our six, it's tough. You look at our field goals, and they took 40 two-point shots and we took, I believe, 41 two-point shots. (actually 39)"

On George Beamon (24 points, 11 rebounds):
"He was good. Listen, we didn't shoot the ball particularly well tonight, 6-of-32 is not who we are from three, but I think when we want referees to adjust to the whistle, we as players and coaches have to adjust to the whistle. They call it that way, go to a bounce and force them to make a call, but George Beamon and Rhamel Brown were terrific tonight, really, really good. He (Beamon) shot a low percentage, give Fordham credit for that. I thought they came in and did a really good job on him defensively, I thought their zone slowed us down a little bit, and it's tough."

On offensive parity after no one else scored more than 10 points in Manhattan's loss to George Washington ten days ago:
"I think we have three guys averaging double figures, so I don't really subscribe to that. It's predicated on the defense. If you want to come out and stop George, great, Rhamel will hurt you. You want to stop Rhamel? Mike (Alvarado) will hurt you. You want to stop him, Shane Richards will hurt you even though he didn't shoot it great tonight. We have a lot of weapons that can hurt you, it's just a matter of us understanding how to get to them and where to go to them."

On how integral Beamon is to Manhattan's success:
"He's important. How integral is LeBron to his team, Kobe to his team? How integral is any best player to their team? Can we win without him? Yeah, we showed that last year. Did we struggle to do it? Yes, we did. Am I a better coach with George Beamon? Much better."

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, obviously, I'm very proud of these guys. We came in, (and) I knew how good Manhattan was. I talked to my assistants after I watched all their games and I said they reminded me a lot of our good teams we coached when we were at Hofstra in the mid-2000s because they're veterans, they're tough, they've been through the wars, and, you know, we were able to contain them tonight and these guys really competed for 40 minutes, including Mandell Thomas getting 10 rebounds, and I told Branden, (Frazier) Jon (Severe) and Mandell 'we need 60 a night from you three guys,' because that's the only way we can win with Bryan Smith down. We're a little light, so our bench isn't as deep as it was. We got great minutes from Chris Whitehead early, I think we did a good job in the zones, we played multiple defenses and the guys did a good job competing in those. They really did a great job on the offensive glass in the first half, and that's what kept them in the game. We couldn't make free throws and they were banging us on the boards, they had 71 field goal attempts, we only had 58 and we still found a way to win the game. Shooting from beyond the stripe and competing, I thought we did a great job on the offensive glass in the second half too."

On Fordham being able to close out the game:
"We talk a lot about in-game situations, we do time and score in practice. The advantage of playing three guards over the years, and now four guards, is that at the end of the game, you're in pretty good shape because guys can't pressure you, you've got good ball handlers on the floor, you can spread the floor and not turn the ball over. I think that helped us a great deal at the end there, and I was kidding with Branden and said it took him two times to finally free himself after the one went out of bounds there, but those were big plays and we were able to close out the game and make those free throws, we missed a couple down the stretch there. I was watching the game and I said 'win or lose, this is a hell of a college basketball game.' It was a really good, fun game to coach, and to watch the guys go out and compete for two different kind of styles, and (George) Beamon's becoming a heck of a player, you know? He had a rough night and he has 24 and 11, you know? He's a good one, as these guys are. I can't say enough about my senior (Frazier) and my freshman (Severe) here."

On Fordham's game plan against Beamon:
"Well, you've got to know where he is all the time on the floor, I coached a kid (named) Loren Stokes who was a lot like him, Everyone in the gym knew he was driving the ball right and he drove it right, and he still scored. Then, when you got into him, he'd step back and make a mid-range jumper, wide open three. Not the perfect form, but it goes down all the time. He's the focal point of everything we do, and they have another couple of guys, (Emmy) Andujar is a good stretch four man, (Michael) Alvarado beat us last year in the last minute of the game coming off ball screens and just toughing his way to the rim. They have great balance, (Rhamel) Brown is a force in the middle. That's a good basketball team, guys. If they win the MAAC and go to the tournament, they're the kind of team that'll beat somebody in the tournament because of their experience and their balance."

On Manhattan's size being a concern:
"You're giving up something to get something. What I was worried about was depth. If we got into real deep foul trouble and we had to go deep into the bench, we were going to have a hard time tonight. Mandell, once again, he should be sitting here too; he was playing with the flu, he was sick Saturday and he's still struggling, but he went and got 10 rebounds and he's up there chasing rebounds with the big boys. That's always going to be a concern for us, but then we've got to try and drag those people away from the basket, and they have to guard us on the other end too. It kind of gives us good spacing offensively by playing Mandell at the four."

On Jon Severe playing with two fouls in the first half and whether he would bench him:
"Not for a second. I just said 'don't foul anybody,' and the way he guards, it's not going to happen a whole lot anyway. Now, there's not much choice to it, you know? You could lose games in the first five minutes too, so I just figured 'hey, we're going to run with you,' and it worked out."

On playing Frazier, Severe and Thomas more than 30 minutes per game:
"We'll get Bryan Smith back, I think Bryan will be back next week, and some of the younger guys will develop. We're still waiting, as crazy as it sounds, on Manny Suarez and Antwoine Anderson, who were both going to be a big part of our bench rotation, and we're still in the appeal process with the NCAA with them. It's opportunities for people. I watched a lot of teams over my youth at St. John's and South Carolina when Coach (Frank) McGuire was there, and Coach (Lou) Carnesecca played six, seven guys a night, so it can be done. My concern at the end was the veterans that were on the floor. A Bronx guy told me a long time ago, Bobby Cremins always said 'seniors are worth three points, juniors are worth two, sophomores are worth one and freshmen are worth zero,' and at the end of the game, he said 'you add up what they have on the floor in a close game and then add up what you have, and it will tell you who's going to win.' Well, that formula went out the window tonight because we've got a special freshman and we have a senior who made the plays we needed him to make late in the game."

Branden Frazier (21 points) on his growth as a true point guard:
"It took time. I think right now as a senior, it's probably my biggest focus, when to shoot the ball. Last year, I probably forced a lot of shots and things like that, but bringing Jon in and having Mandell make shots and being that scorer for us as well, you just know that you don't have to do everything out there, and that makes me feel good. I used to feel like, when I was a sophomore and junior, that I had to do everything, but now I just feel like it's just lifted off my shoulders and I can rely on other people."

Frazier on what it means to win a rivalry game at Manhattan:
"It means a lot, just knowing the history that was before it, before me. This game has been going on way before my time, so just knowing that we could just get a win under our belt at Manhattan for Fordham is a good thing. They beat us the last two years, so we just wanted to come in here, and just play our hardest and get a win. That's what happened."

Pecora on how big a win this was for the Fordham program:
"You know what I liked about this game? I talked to my assistants about it, it's a bunch of New York kids playing against each other, you know? You look at both of our rosters, they're basically 75-80 percent New Yorkers, so the kids know each other and that adds to it. It was like an old school, I was talking to (assistant coach) Tommy Parrotta before the game about when he was at Fordham and they played Manhattan, a lot of guys from the Catholic League, a lot of guys from the New York Public League, played against each other, summers, all of that. In that sense, it was cool, but hey, it's a good win. It's a solid win, a nonconference win, it's a bigger win for us because we played poorly on Saturday against a good Sacred Heart team. Losing at home makes me sick, so until we find another win, it would not have been a happy Thanksgiving. I would have smiled, put on a happy face and made believe, but that's just coaching. You're just searching for the next one. We've just got to get consistent now. The effort that we put forth tonight for 40 minutes, if we do that consistently every night, we're going to win some basketball games this year."

Jon Severe on his first Battle of the Bronx experience:
"I'm kind of used to it from going to high school and playing against, like, Loughlin, so I expected it was going to be a fight."

Pecora on playing a zone defense:
"We've got to get better at it. It's early in the season, but it's a good weapon to have and you're going to see a lot more people playing it just because of this hand check rule too. It's something we feel comfortable with, our scouting reports dictate what we're going to do defensively, but I was pleased with it tonight."

Nuggets of Note:
- The beginning of the first half was the "Jon and Mandell Show," as Jon Severe and Mandell Thomas scored the Rams' first 25 points before Branden Frazier got on the board. All told, the three guards accounted for 86 percent of Fordham's offense on a night where the Rams ended the game with an offensive efficiency rating of 113, or 1.13 points per possession. Frazier and Severe also accounted for 26 of Fordham's 37 free throw attempts as the Rams forced Rhamel Brown to foul out, as well as drawing four fouls each on George Beamon and Michael Alvarado.

- For the second time in three games, Mandell Thomas emerged with a double-double. After racking up his first career double-figure point and rebound efforts with 18 points and 13 boards in the win against Lehigh, the rising star of a sophomore had an understated 17 points and 10 caroms against a bigger and much more physical Jasper front line, putting him squarely in the race for all-conference honors if he keeps this pace up in Atlantic 10 play.

- Many people were concerned about Fordham's two big men fouling out, each one played smart when they got into foul trouble. Ryan Rhoomes and Travion Leonard each ended the night with four fouls, but both asserted themselves once they were called for their third and fourth infractions, and were able to get into position to establish lane presence against Rhamel Brown, whose 12-point, 7-rebound, 9-block near-triple-double was minimized due to the Ram frontcourt playing what was, by far, one of their more impressive games in recent memory.

- The Rams hung tough on the boards as Pecora mentioned after the game, only surrendering three more rebounds than Manhattan, with everyone contributing at least two individual boards and limiting Manhattan's reserves to just 12 individual rebounds. Many of the caroms came on long bounces from missed three-pointers by Manhattan, who shot just 6-of-32 (19 percent) from beyond the arc.

- Finally, from a program standpoint, this victory, just the fourth true road win for Pecora since arriving on Rose Hill in 2010, is the biggest for the Rams since their 2010 upset and court storm against St. John's, where Brenton Butler turned a four-foul first half around into one of the greatest second halves of a lifetime. However, as Pecora mentioned in his press conference, the key is consistency, and the Rams will need to keep themselves on the accelerator next week against Furman, and also in the Holiday Festival against St. John's at Madison Square Garden after that.

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