Saturday, December 7, 2013

St. John's 104, Fordham 58: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Making his Madison Square Garden debut, Orlando Sanchez led all scorers with 19 points as St. John's routed Fordham in Red Storm's most efficient performance of season. (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"You learn from it. We're young, we didn't execute a game plan. Part of our game plan was to make them beat us over the top and they shot the heck out of it. If they shoot the basketball like that, they're going to be a tough team to beat for a lot of people, but we didn't execute and kicked the ball out after we penetrated. I think it became a little bit of a macho thing, our guys are competitors and they wanted to try to get the ball to the rim, and that's not our world, you know? Our world is out around the arc, and getting out there and kicking and getting really good looks. I thought we got a lot of good looks in the first half, and I felt confident at halftime that we were going to be able to get back in the game if we continued to get those looks because we would knock them down, but obviously, that wasn't the case. I feel for Jon Severe, obviously, he comes in here; a New York kid, lot of hype, and his first time in the Garden, you know, and he lays an egg, but he's going to be a good player. So, I trust him and I know there'll be better days for him, and he'll continue to work hard on that. This is one you put behind you. We have a game Tuesday. I don't know how football coaches do it, waiting a week after a tough loss, so we can turn this around quick."

On Jon Severe and his being held to nine points on 1-of-21 shooting:
"I think it was them, (St. John's) and I'm sure they were highly motivated. They had heard enough about New York's Player of the Year and all that nonsense, and they came out and they made an extra defensive effort on him and he forced it a little bit, I thought. I thought there were opportunities for him to knock down open jumpers and he decided to drive the ball, and vice versa, but it's all part of the learning curve for a freshman, no matter how good they are. There's a growth cycle, and he's got to experience big arena, big team, and they're similar to some of the teams in the A-10, so a day like this will help him prepare for some of the better teams we play as we move forward."

On St. John's shooting 67 percent from the field:
"At halftime, I looked that and said 'they can't keep shooting this way.' I wasn't concerned about them making the perimeter shots, because I thought if they made; I knew coming in that if they shoot the ball well from three, we're not going to win this basketball game, you know, and they go shoot 9-for-15 in the game. What concerned me was the dunks, the breaks, the layups. We needed to stay disciplined, and I think once we mature as a team, we'll be able to do that and execute the game plan through a half and not panic, and I can see it in their eyes, you know? Our lack of depth caught up to us too. We were tired and they were still sprinting up the floor."

On Severe missing two breakaway dunks:
"Look, he was frustrated too. He's a very competitive kid and he's a very good basketball player. He wasn't today, so he's just trying to make a point on it, but that kind of sums up his day. You know, you miss a dunk, it goes up off the heel of the rim and goes out, it becomes an outlet pass going the other way. It happens."

On Orlando Sanchez and his difficulty as a defensive matchup:
"That was the best I've seen him play. I know he's a good player, I saw him in junior college when he played, but when he's making perimeter shots like that, it's a totally different dimension because of his length and his size, and they play him as a three and as a four, so having that on the floor, they created great space today, and once they create space offensively by shooting the ball that well, then their athleticism around the basket and ability to put the ball on the deck really blossoms, it really shows."

On St. John's and their evolution:
"Well, I think if they continue to shoot the ball like this, I see great things, you know? You can only coach one team, but when you watch a team and get familiar with personnel; and obviously, us playing them each year, I know some of the guys, but if they continue to shoot the basketball like this, that gives them that great balance that they need. They shot well, I thought they played with great energy, but I think they always play. (that way) They always defend, they're a good defensive team. I think they're under 40 percent as a team, 39 and change as a team defensive field goal percentage, and that's the mark of a good defensive team. They rebound the basketball, so I think that they're going to be fine. I don't think there's any glaring issues. What I've always said is, as we game prep for this and we put a game plan together, myself and my staff, we talk about 'they've got to beat us over the top, it's got to be a one-shot game, we can't allow them to get a lot of offensive rebounds. They didn't need the offensive rebounds, nothing was coming off, you know? It was all going in, and in turn, when making shots, it allows them to get organized defensively and be that much better a defensive team, and there's a big difference in teams defensively off misses and off makes."

On Travion Leonard's 8-point, 9-rebound effort in 19 minutes:
"There's numbers, and then there's soft numbers. I am happy with Tra's effort, Tra lost 80 pounds, he's still working on his conditioning. At the end of a game, I look at him and (Ryan) Rhoomes together as a two-headed monster, and I combine those numbers and say 'that's what we got out of the five spot tonight,' but there's numbers and then there's soft numbers when games are out of reach, but I was happy with some of the things Travion did, I thought he competed well."

On his postgame address to the team:
"I told them, 'Look, guys. There's a couple of things we've got to change. It's not what happens to you in your life, it's how you respond to what happens in your life, so we've got a practice tomorrow, (a) practice Monday, and then take that beautiful bus ride up to Hamilton, New York to play Colgate and find a way to win that game and then move on. We've got a home game next Saturday, so that's what we'll do."

Nuggets of Note:
- The 104 points for St. John's were the highest point total for the Red Storm since defeating Providence by the final of 104-70 on February 15, 1999 at Alumni Hall, one month before a Mike Jarvis-led St. John's team reached the Elite Eight behind Ron Artest, Erick Barkley and Bootsy Thornton. It was also the first time Fordham had given up 100 or more since a 102-58 loss to Richmond on January 25, 2012.

- Five St. John's players ended the day in double figures on an afternoon where Fordham shot 19-of-80 from the field against a 67 percent shooting effort from the Red Storm, including 79 percent in the first half. Orlando Sanchez led the charge with 19 points, while D'Angelo Harrison added 13, JaKarr Sampson and Sir'Dominic Pointer 12 each, and Phil Greene 11 of his own. Mandell Thomas (15 points) and Branden Frazier (13 points) were the only Rams in double figures, as Pointer came within a rebound of a triple-double, finishing with nine boards and 11 assists.

- For a near-13-minute stretch of the first half, St. John's made 17 consecutive shots as Fordham struggled to get into an offensive rhythm, effectively putting the final outcome on ice before the intermission with their explosive spurt over a 12:56 time span. (This nugget brought to you by Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News)

- Fordham has been prone to giving up big games to St. John's forwards in the past, and today was no exception due to the lack of an inside presence against St. John's mounds of interior depth. The efficiency was so high for the Red Storm that shot blocking sensation Chris Obekpa did not even need to come anywhere close to his school record 11 blocks, set last year against the Rams in this same Holiday Festival matchup. Overall, St. John's outscored Fordham 44-22 in the paint, but that margin is much closer than the actual game proceedings let on.

- Finally, three days removed from a 31-point win over Furman that was the largest margin of victory in Pecora's three-plus years at Rose Hill, Fordham unfortunately followed up with a lack of effort reminiscent of the final days of the Dereck Whittenburg era in 2009. After a gritty road win against Manhattan, one would expect the Rams to play with a similar intensity against St. John's, especially considering Pecora's past record against them and desire to make this into a heated rivalry, yet it seemed that once Fordham's roster recognized it was overmatched, it reached a point where it looked as though the second half was mailed in. Granted, missing 76 percent of your shots will make any day seem that way, but even a fraction of the effort against Manhattan on November 26th would have gone a long way this afternoon.

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