Tom Pecora and Ryan Rhoomes meet the media after largest margin of victory in Pecora era was recorded in Fordham's 79-48 rout of Furman. (Photo courtesy of Jaden Daly)
Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Obviously, Saturday (against St. John's) is more important, but my impressions are this: We were them a few years ago when we got here, so the opportunity for us to go out and take care of business, I think we learned a little bit from our slip-up against Sacred Heart and us not taking care of business, and we built off a good Manhattan win, so those are the positives. Now we have two days to get ready for a very good St. John's team, they're long, they're athletic, you know, they try to turn you over and beat you up on the offensive glass. Those are going to be two keys for us, but a total team effort, I was thrilled with Ryan. (Rhoomes) Before the game, I said 'go get 20 rebounds tonight,' and he came out of the gate and was playing that way. If I played him more minutes than 22 minutes...he got, how many again? 14? So it's on the board, and those are the kind of nights he can have because he's so active, he's so strong, he's done a great job in the weight room and he can do that consistently, so one of the things we always look at is him and Tra(vion Leonard) at the end of the night, and you look at the two of them, they got 22 points and 19 rebounds out of that spot, and that's what we need. We know what the guards are going to give us, they've been very consistent, we did a good job defending the three, and they had a couple of guys we were concerned about shooting the three and they shot 0-for-11. Not a whole lot of complaints here. It got a little sloppy in the second half with turnovers, I think we only had one turnover in the first half, but as we started to go up and down, it got a little sloppy in the second half and it got up to 13, which is unacceptable. We always want to have under 12 as a team, but we have five or six game goals we try to reach every night, and I think with the exception of that, we made just about all of the other ones."
On Fordham's ball movement in the backcourt:
"Well, yeah, it just creates great space by having the four of them there and their ability to shoot the ball. People have to extend out and guard them, and that obviously gave Ryan some chances in the post, but it also spreads the floor and offense is about spacing. They play off their instincts, by nature, they're unselfish and they're pretty good passers, they'll kick it and they're willing to make that extra pass. I thought we got some good baskets in the first 10 minutes of the game, especially off almost the extra extra pass, you know what I mean? It got us some really good looks, so I was very happy with their unselfishness."
Ryan Rhoomes on stepping up for his career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds:
"I felt I was in the zone pretty much from the beginning of the game, and I came down and told my team that. I felt good today, I went out there and just wanted to play. Like Coach said, he wanted me to go out there and get 20 rebounds, so I kept that in the back of my mind."
Rhoomes on anchoring Fordham's zone defense:
"With the zone, I'm the quarterback, so I've got to tell everybody where to go, what's going to happen. We still have to get a lot better at it, but I think we're starting to get better."
Pecora on Fordham's evolution from when he took over in 2010:
"It takes time, and I said to them in the locker room 'the reason we're not there any longer is because of them.' It's because of Ryan, it's because of Jon Severe and Branden Frazier, because of the guys who decided to come to Fordham and take a chance and help us rebuild this thing. So it's always about the product you put on the floor."
On Jon Severe's defensive efforts:
"Better, a little more active, you know? He's still trying to figure out things, and he'll make some mistakes at times being overly aggressive and in turn, open up the gap in the zone, and tonight, we wanted them to beat us over the top the way we were playing the zone, but there's a lot of different ways for us to play that, a lot of different things for us to get out of that. He's getting better, he's still a freshman. It's amazing, he's putting up these numbers but he still doesn't know what he's doing a lot of the time out there, and that's just natural for a freshman, but he's got a lot of raw talent."
On his concerns against St. John's:
"(Chris) Obekpa's the best shot blocker in the country. He's going to have to come out and block some threes, I guess, because the way we're kicking it now, taking it to the rim is probably not going to be a huge option. They are incredible at chasing the ball when it goes to the rim and blocking shots, I've seen some tape of them already and I saw one of their games, so that is their strong suit. We've got to attack it inside out, and whether it's with a post up or a kick out; Ryan did a good job and Tra did a good job tonight, or by dribble penetration and then making that extra pass and drawing them away from the basket."
On Chris Obekpa:
"He's an exceptional shot blocker, he's as good as anybody I've seen."
On Jon Severe's efficiency and what he can do to surprise Pecora:
"There's a lot, and I'm going to expect it Saturday."
Rhoomes on being a team leader:
"We're all brothers, so somebody has to step up, you know? It doesn't really matter with the sophomores or classes with our team. Whoever wants to step up and be that person, it's not just me. We have a lot of people. You might not see it, but there's actually a lot of people that put their input in, but I'm just the more outspoken one."
Pecora on what allows Severe to score even when being aggressively defended:
"Well, he's explosive, you know? He's got great legs, and people talk about shooting form and all that, and he has that. Great shooters have great legs. He's got great footwork, he's always on balance when he shoots the ball, even on fadeaways. To have the ability to score and get yourself up off those stepbacks, big time shots, he can score in transition and he's not just a catch/shoot guy. He can put the ball on the ground and go by you, so you've got to respect that. He keeps people off balance, he's not one-dimensional offensively."
Nuggets of Note:
- The 31-point win was Fordham's largest margin of victory in the Tom Pecora era, and largest since 2007, when Dereck Whittenburg was still at the helm of the Rams. It was also just Pecora's third career victory of 30 or more points, with both of the other two coming in his final season at Hofstra in 39-point victories against Farmingdale State and UNC Wilmington in 2009 and 2010, respectively. (That nugget comes courtesy of Jerry "Defiantly Dutch" Beach) Ryan Rhoomes also set career highs in points and rebounds with his double-double totals of 15 points and 14 boards.
- Along with Mandell Thomas (19 points) and Jon Severe, (23 to lead all scorers) Rhoomes helped account for 57 of the Rams' 79 points, or 72 percent of the offense on a night in which Fordham posted a 158 offensive efficiency rating in the first half, or 1.58 points per possession. The Rams finished the game at a 122 efficiency, or 1.22 points per possession, which is even more impressive considering Branden Frazier only managed four points while being much more of a facilitator with the basketball, recording nine assists.
- Fordham took advantage of Furman's 0-for-11 night from three-point range and lack of a true big man to outrebound the Paladins 45-25, including 20-7 on the offensive glass behind 16 offensive caroms from Rhoomes (9) and Bryan Smith (7) combined. Smith posted 12 rebounds overall.
- The Rams led this game wire-to-wire, as Smith's layup in the first five seconds was all the insurance Fordham would need. The junior from Brooklyn was making his first appearance in the lineup since the Rams' 80-72 win over Lehigh on November 15th, with an ankle injury holding him out of the last two contests against Sacred Heart and Manhattan.
- Finally, looking ahead to the Holiday Festival matchup against St. John's, it is not necessarily a Red Storm runaway. In the last three meetings between the two schools, the games have been decided by a grand total of 20 points, with the largest margin of victory in that stretch coming last year in a 58-47 St. John's win behind an explosive second half from JaKarr Sampson and school record 11 blocks from Chris Obekpa one year after the Johnnies eked out a 56-50 victory against the Rams despite playing only six players. Of course, the 2010 renewal of the "Battle of the Whitestone Bridge" was Fordham's impressive come-from-behind 84-81 upset at Rose Hill Gym, which featured two separate 16-0 runs in the second half to erase a 21-point lead and give the sellout crowd a reason to storm the court after the game.