Without Mandell Thomas, Jon Severe's 23 points were even more important in Fordham's win over Loyola. (Photo courtesy of Richard Restivo via Big Apple Buckets)
Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement: (All quotes courtesy of Anthony Sulla-Heffinger, who formerly covered Fordham for the New York Post and still freelances for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com, and was on hand at the Rose Hill Gym this afternoon)
"Our free throw shooting continues to be great, and, you know, I was upset with these two guys (Branden Frazier and Bryan Smith) Saturday because I told them as veterans, as my senior and my junior, they have to control games late, they have to take games over, they have to make shots, and they have to feel comfortable taking them and knowing that I trust them. So, that was a big game for Bryan with 17 and 7, and for Branden with 16, nine assists, three rebounds. You know, we only had six turnovers the entire game, so that speaks volumes for the job he's doing now at the point. So, a very good win, a bounce-back win, it looked like we showed some spirit, and we've got two days off. We're going to come back on the 26th and go twice and go on the 27th, and then get ready for our little mini-two-day tournament, three-day tournament there with Harvard up here and then one day to prepare for a good Siena team up there. You know, we've got a week off until conference matchups, so I'm excited."
On how Fordham has grown, and also on clinching another winning nonconference season:
"I think it's difficult. You get some experience, we talk about that all the time, and the experience with these two guys, (Frazier and Smith) and as I've said in the past; even as sophomores, the amount of minutes that they got last year, you know, Tra(vion Leonard) and Rhoomsie (Ryan Rhoomes) and even Jermaine, (Myers) and then to do this without Mandell, (Thomas, who missed today's game due to a pulled hamstring suffered against Monmouth on Saturday) you know? It's big, it's a big win for us, because he's obviously a big part of our seven-man, eight-man rotation. I thought Tra and Rhoomes did a good job on the backboards, they played well together, they took care of the basketball, I mean, they only had one turnover between the two of them. I'm always concerned about our turnover numbers going up when we play big, and I think there's more talent on the floor. Obviously, they've gotten better as players, they've worked harder to develop as players, and then the players we've brought in are a little bit better, so that's why the outcome is good."
On taking care of business at home:
"(The) first step in rebuilding, I don't have to tell you guys, you've all been here with me. It's been a tough job, there's been a lot of heavy lifting and there's been a lot of hard work has gone into it and a lot of challenges, but you've got to be good at home and I don't care who you're playing in this building, I expect us to beat them. We go on the road, I expect us to win, find a way to win, but at home, I expect to win in this building. We had a great crowd today, my assistants did a great job with youth groups with the students away. I was shocked when I came out to see what a great crowd we had here on the 23rd, and we were concerned about having a 4:00 game, I did it for Porter, (Moser, Loyola's coach) he's a good friend, a good coach, and he couldn't get a flight back tomorrow...the last flight was 8:40, so I'm like 'alright, we'll move the game up.' Thank God it worked out. That's why we played at 4:00, (and) a great crowd."
On his halftime speech:
"It wasn't over the top. Coaching's different, there's like six words I can't use at all anymore that I used to use all the time when I was a young coach, so they're pretty mellow. Really, we just addressed business, we told them all what they need to do. One of the neat things we did was we brought a group in over the fall called 'The Program,' and it was sort of a special ops group, and all the kind of special ops Army, Navy SEAL people, and they come in for two days. It's really intense, it's really wild, and the gentleman who was involved as the director of our group, we had come back to the game today for military day, he's a vet of the Middle Eastern wars, and I surprised them at the 12-minute mark before the game, I had him come in and speak to them. So I'm going to yell at him because they didn't come out in the first half the way I expected, and it took my halftime speech to get them going, but it was a good win for the team, it was a good win for the program. They're a good basketball team, and I can enjoy Christmas."
On Jon Severe (23 points, 6 assists) and attacking the basket to score:
"Well, the thing is he's capable of it, you know? I mean, there's a lot of guys out there that can just make jumpers. The good thing about Jon, Branden, Bryan, Mandell is that they can do both, so they can keep you off balance, but, yeah, he drove the ball a couple of times with a fury, you know? Then he got to the rim and he made some great baskets, so I think we all did a good job of putting it on the deck more in the second half. We talked about that...you fall in love with the jumper early in the first half, (but) when we drove the ball, we had much better success."
On Fordham's defense in the second half:
"Well, we got out of the zone, and I think what hurt us in the first half was (that) they were 6-of-10 from three. So, I mean, boom, all of a sudden, you're deep into a possession and then they reverse the ball and knock down a three. So by going man and being able to stay close to (Devon) Turk and not allowing him to get as many looks in the second half, that was a big difference maker. It gave us great energy, and we can run, you know? The expression we use is 'rebound to run,' so when we go rebound, Bryan had a number of big time rebounds. I thought he did a good job in traffic of going and getting rebounds, and he had seven, and Frazier had a few tonight. Our guards have got to rebound for us to be successful, but that becomes like an outlet because they get the rebound and then they can start the break by putting the ball on the ground."
Branden Frazier on having space to create his own shots:
"Every time down, it seemed like a different defense. In the first half, we weren't being patient enough, we were just rushing shots and just getting them up. In the second half, we just kind of came back down, made the right shots, got them to the rim, and we responded on open looks, so I think that was the difference. In the first half, we were settling for the jump shot."
Frazier on playing with two forwards more than usual:
"We haven't done it the first couple of games, so we may have fallen off a little bit, but we know how to play with two bigs. We know our jobs, they know their jobs."
Bryan Smith on his performance:
"It felt good. I just wanted to play confident and be aggressive so I could help the team, and be more aggressive so we could get the win."
Pecora on responding after a loss on multiple occasions this season:
"Yeah, we've never lost two in a row, (this season) right? We talk all the time about one-game winning streaks, you know, and just having one-game losing streaks. It's good, and bouncing back shows a lot of pride, plus if you're down nine at home and come back, but I could feel it (the energy) in the first minutes of the second half, you saw us just come out, and we kind of pounced on them, and then when we passed them, we just kept going. We didn't have that lull that's kind of taken the wind out of our sails."
Smith on his second half approach:
"Just don't let them get any touches, almost face guarding them. The less touches you get, the harder it is to score. He (Devon Turk) was the main reason they were in the game, he made all them threes."
Pecora on seizing opportunity:
"We talked about it at the end, I said, 'Look, we're getting ready for Harvard to come in here.' Like everyone else, we expect them to come in and we expect to beat them, but yeah, two years ago we did all we needed to do, and we had a good day, they had a rough day shooting the ball, and we found a way to beat them, but we fear nobody in this gym. It's hard to get people in this gym, it's hard to get people to come play us in the home-and-home, especially with who we consider a marquee opponent, you know?"
Nuggets of Note:
- Fordham picked up the 600th win in program history at Rose Hill Gym today, and did it with an emphatic 23-point second half swing where the Rams outscored Loyola 54-31 behind a 58 percent (15-for-26) shooting effort from the field.
- As tweeted before the game by Mack Rosenberg, the voice of the Rams on WFUV, Fordham has become an Andy Pettitte-esque stopper this season when taking the court immediately following a loss, as the Rams have won each of the four games following their defeats. In fact, this win was the most decisive performance following a loss that Fordham has had all season, with the last two (Manhattan and Colgate) being a pair of four-point road victories.
- Today's win was only the third time all season in which the Rams have broken the 80-point plateau, with all three coming at home, and each of the other two (the season opener against Saint Francis and November 15th against Lehigh) also resulting in wins, giving Fordham a perfect 3-0 ledger when reaching that offensive zenith.
- One underlying set of numbers on the stat sheet tonight? That would be the free throw disparity, particularly in the second half. Fordham went to the foul line 23 times, making all but two of their attempts, whereas Loyola only got two shots at the charity stripe, splitting them. Without Fordham's 20-of-21 effort at the line after the intermission, Loyola wins the game 69-63 and deals the Rams what would have been yet another crushing home defeat.
- Finally, Branden Frazier continues to prove that he deserves a game ball for his evolution into a pure point guard from the combo guard who, for his first three years in the Bronx, seemed to never meet a shot he didn't like. Give Frazier mounds of credit for his latest tour de force, which included nine assists to back up his 16-point outing, which is magnified even more in the absence of Mandell Thomas.