Jon Severe, Tom Pecora and Bryan Smith meet media after Fordham's season opening 87-67 win over Saint Francis University. (Photo courtesy of Jaden Daly)
Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Obviously, we're pleased to start with a win. We played well, we took care of the basketball, but I think we fell in love with the jumpers from the free throw line a little too much. When you're shooting the ball as well as Jon (Severe) was and Bryan Smith was, he was 50 percent from three, it's hard not to when you're getting those good looks. It's a great weapon, and the advantage of playing the way we're playing is we have four guys on the floor that can make shots and shoot the ball, so I was happy with that. We did a decent job on the glass, in the first half, they had eight offensive rebounds, we were up a good amount at the half, but they had one more shot attempt than we did because of their offensive rebound efforts. So, we talked about four offensive rebounds in the second half, they got five...I know they got one in the final seconds. We have to do a better job of containing the basketball. You know, I'm a coach, I'm going to find fault. That's my job, especially early in the year, and we have to work on getting better, but obviously, to come out of the gate like this, it's a good feeling. I can't remember the last time we won a game by 20 points."
On Jon Severe, who set a freshman debut record with 28 points:
"Not every night's going to be like this, but many are, and he's getting great support and leadership from Bryan, from Branden Frazier, and he's got a lot of growing up to do, but that's typical of every freshman. Obviously, he's a huge weapon, and the great thing about it now is that people are going to see this tape and it's going to force him to work incredibly hard because people are going to work incredibly hard, and they're going to put defenders on him all the time."
Jon Severe on his record-setting night:
"It was great. I think I should have had a better defensive show tonight. In the exhibition game, I had a bad shooting night, so I've just been getting more shots up. I think I'm taking too much shots, (so) I try to get my teammates involved."
Severe on playing against Malik Harmon, his high school teammate:
"That was good, the whole Christ the King (team) was here in front of us."
Pecora on Malik Harmon:
"He's going to be a good player for them, you know? He's a guy we looked at really hard, we were trying to decide whether we needed to bring in a freshman point guard to be a part of this. I like Malik, he's a great kid, he works hard, and I think he's going to be a great player for them."
Pecora on Fordham's defensive efforts:
"In the first half, we talked about it at halftime, what did I say, five or six minutes? We played real good defense, and that's when we were able to extend the lead. The first ten minutes, we scored, they scored, we scored, they scored, and then we decided to bear down. Bryan's got a huge impact on that, he can jump out and switch on everything, and he did a really good job, I thought, (of) getting his hand on the ball, pressuring the basketball and making those kind of plays. I was happy with that stretch, but once again, they went to the foul line a ton more than we did actually in the second half, and we have to understand, we talk about playing each possession like it's the last possession of a game. You can't just say 'hey, we're up 25, I'm going to take this possession off, because it's going to bite you in the tail down the road."
Junior guard Bryan Smith (18 points, 8 rebounds) on playing in the frontcourt:
"It's more physical, but that's why we're in the weight room. Everybody gets stronger, so it makes it easier for times like that."
Pecora following up on Smith playing out of position:
"When I was at Farmingdale (junior college) a bunch of years ago, I told the team, we had a bunch of crazy big guys, and I told them 'everyone here is a one,' and they were all like 'finally, a coach who understands my game!' We never really played with numbers here, we always play with three guards and two forwards, so now I guess we're playing with four guards, but Bryan scores inside, he scores outside. It's a tough matchup for big guys to come out and chase after him on the perimeter, and obviously with Jon's ability to shoot the ball, with Bryan's, with Branden's, with Mandell (Thomas)'s, it's going to stretch our defenses, and as our bigs get better, it should give them more scoring opportunities as well."
Pecora on his expectations from the frontcourt:
"I expect more consistency, to be quite honest. I expect them to be better defenders, I expect them to rebound the ball better, and I expect them to stay out of foul trouble. They're out there just whacking people, but you know what? It gives us 15 fouls, that's fine. A lot of them were because of dribble penetration, and they were forced to step up and make plays. So, I think if we get better at containing the basketball, some of these foul trouble issues with the bigs will go away."
Smith on his confidence level:
"I'm feeding off of everybody. Coach always had a lot of faith in me, even if I'm not having a good shooting game, he always tells me to keep shooting the ball, (and) that I could make the shots. Everybody always had faith in me, and that gives me confidence."
Pecora following up:
"Bryan's an exceptional shooter, you know? He's got (a) good shot discipline to keep his mechanics, I mean, he scored sixty-something in a high school game. I've recruited guys that couldn't score 67 if you left them in the gym alone at night. He's got the ability to score the ball, so does Jon, so does Branden. Branden's leadership, he's becoming better and better as a point guard. Obviously, he'll have a great challenge on Tuesday, (against Syracuse) but we've got some work to do."
Pecora on maintaining Fordham's offensive productivity:
"That's the game plan. I think I'm going to put guys on the floor that deserve to play, and right now, these guys deserve to play, they're doing a better job every day. We compete for minutes every day. If there's an epiphany, and all of a sudden these big guys are kicking everyone's tail in practice, then we'll start playing big. That's the only way we know how to do it."
Pecora on Branden Frazier acting as more of a facilitator:
"Depending on the matchup, who he's against, but I think he did a great job of letting guys run out their streaks, too. When guys were hot, he continued to get Jon the ball. When Bryan made a couple of shots, he gave it back to him, and that's what good point guards do. You know, when a guy's got it going, let him run the streak out and see how many in a row he can make."
Nuggets of Note:
- First up, Tom Pecora can look here to remember the last time Fordham won a game by 20 points before tonight, as the Rams last accomplished the feat on December 8, 2008, when Dereck Whittenburg was at the helm for a 79-58 victory over Lafayette at Rose Hill.
- Fordham won tonight's game in two places, first at the three-point line, making thirteen of the 28 trifectas they attempted, while Saint Francis made just six of their 26 tries from beyond the arc. In addition, the Red Flash's sharpshooting duo of Ben Millaud-Meunier and Dominique Major managed just five and six points, respectively. Moreover, Fordham's 28-8 run to end the first half after Saint Francis took a brief 19-17 lead with 9:02 remaining before the intermission effectively took the Red Flash out of the game, with the big blow being a 17-0 Ram spurt keyed by the starting backcourt of Branden Frazier, Mandell Thomas and Jon Severe.
- Four Rams ended the season opener in double figures, with Frazier accounting for 10 points, Thomas chipping in with 15 of his own on a night where the sophomore looked like a surefire all-conference player, Bryan Smith adding 18 points and eight rebounds in one of his best games in a Fordham uniform, and Severe with 28.
- The Rams also defended the ball exceptionally well, forcing 14 turnovers while committing only eleven miscues on their own end, with seven blocked shots; three of which came from Frazier, to go along with it.
- Finally, although Mandell Thomas and Bryan Smith poured in a combined 33 points and 15 rebounds, the star of the night was Jon Severe, who set a Fordham freshman debut scoring record with 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 7-of-10 from three-point range. The reigning New York State Mr. Basketball continued to put on a show as the night went on, draining three consecutive threes in the first 2:54 of the second half to send a crowd of 2,036 into a frenzy. Severe's showing is among the most impressive by a freshman in the area in recent years, even more so than Maurice Harkless' 32-point, 13-rebound effort in his Big East debut against Providence in December of 2011. The only question for the Rams now will be what Severe does for an encore not just against Syracuse on Tuesday, but for the rest of the season as well.