Sunday, November 23, 2014

UMass Lowell 64, Fordham 57: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, guys, that was embarrassing. They're a young team who played extremely hard, and obviously, they played with a chip on their shoulder and they had a lot to prove. I just told our group we will, my job is to make sure we have a spirited practice tomorrow, and if these guys learn how to compete and play against smaller, tougher players, because that's what we came across. We came across guys that were undersized, but I think that was the epitome of 'it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.' They just wanted it more than we did, you know, we dominated them on the glass, we fell in love, for whatever reason, we fell in love with the three-pointer. We were 3-of-6 in the beginning of the game, and like a young, immature team; which is what we're playing like, and our veterans have got to help us in the process of maturing these guys, you know, we fell in love with the three, we wound up shooting 27 three-pointers. Granted, four or five at the end in the last two minutes, you're trying to play catch-up, but see, that's not the way this team is built. We're not that great a shooting team, we're decent, and our good shooters are struggling. Jon Severe hasn't been making shots. Eric Paschall didn't make shots the last two games, and look, it's his second college game or third college game, but half your field goals can't come from three when you're that size. But it's on me. I've got to find a way to get these guys motivated and get these guys, get Bryan Smith and Mandell Thomas and Ryan Rhoomes leading this group, along with myself, obviously. So, the burden, when we lose, it's me, and you know, this is not a good one. I'm not going to lie to you. I thought it was a game, we played poorly in the first half, and at halftime, I was saying to myself, 'well, I'm glad we got that out of our system,' and we came off a game at Maryland where we played really hard and really well, and none of that tonight. I didn't see the intensity, I didn't see the toughness, so hopefully it's a lesson learned to these young players, but winning Division I basketball games against anybody is a tough thing, and if winning was easy, everybody would do it. I tell the team that all the time. They let them take the fight to us after the initial. Once again, we jump out on people, and as an immature team, I think we think 'alright, we got this one in the bag, we're up 11-3 or whatever,' and then we go to the bench and boom, they make a run back at us, so we've got a lot of growing up to do. We've got a lot of growing up to do. That's it. Your thoughts?"
On Eric Paschall and whether he might be getting trigger happy from three-point range:
"Very much so. Without a doubt. I said to him, 'look, you've got a chance to be a big time player. You're bailing teams out by jacking up those threes, you know?' and when he gets a good look at them and he's patient and he's in stride, it's one thing, but, you know, our shot selection was atrocious, and that's why we shot 34 percent."

On why he said this loss was embarrassing:
"Well, I just, look, my teams, I've always had teams that played hard and competed, and I didn't feel like we played hard enough tonight, and we didn't compete hard enough, and that...nothing strikes a chord with me, or any coach in my opinion, more than that, so that's what we need to do. We need to realize that, you know, you're not going to get what you want out of life, you're going to get what you deserve, and we didn't deserve to win tonight. They did, because they kept hanging around, hanging around, and I think in the back of our guys' minds, we were like 'alright, alright, we'll make some shots, we'll make some shots.' It's an immature way to look at the game, and I've got to get them old. That's my job. With seven freshmen, I've got to get them old and I've got to get more from Rhoomes, and more from Thomas, and more from Smith, because those are the three veterans, so they've got to demand more as well. You know, Ryan Rhoomes had a double-double, but in the first half, he didn't get a whole lot done at all, you know? So, if he plays like that in the first half, heck, we've probably got an eight or ten-point lead in the first half. And then we missed eight free throws. We shoot damn near 90 percent from the foul line every day in practice, and then we miss eight free throws, and look, you can make excuses. I'm not making excuses. You could say 'they're young,' you could say blah, blah, blah, 'come on,' all that nonsense. Players play, man. Players play. I've coached freshmen that have dominated games."

On Jon Severe's slump being a cause for concern:
"Yeah, he's got to make some shots and he's got to stop turning the ball over. When you look at his numbers overall, you know, he's got to just...the only way you get out of a shooting slump is working. So, what do you do? I would hope he would be in the gym tonight after everyone gets out of here. They can be in this gym until midnight. I would hope he'd be in here shooting a couple of hundred jumpers with a teammate or with the gun, and that goes for a number of the guys. The only way you get out of slumps, in any sport; you take more BP in baseball, you just live in the cage and you get your mechanics down. Well, it's no different shooting a basketball, so you know, I tell them all the time; and this is the God's honest truth: I don't just decide who plays, they do. So after practice each day, my staff and I watch practice separately and come together as a group and discuss practice, and who's playing well and who deserves minutes and all of those things, so you know, you want to get on the floor, you've got to perform every day in practice, and that'll get you more minutes. Jon got 17 minutes tonight, you know? I'd like him and all the other guards, in a perfect world, they'd all be playing about 25 minutes a game, but the bottom line is, who are you going to go to? With the exception of, I mean, guys, we shot 34 percent. Rhoomes, you know, Paschall was 7-for-16, everybody else was 3-of-7, 3-of-8, 3-of-11, Mandell Thomas. Alright, that's back-to-back games now he's like 6-for-31 or 7-for-31, something like that. You've got to make shots, you've got to make plays, you've got to finish."

On Ryan Rhoomes and his expectations with Ryan Canty out for the season:
"Yeah, we need a lot, and tonight's a tough game for (Dekeba) Battee because they're so small, you know? We played a little bit of zone when they were out there, but they went on a stretch where they missed jumpers in the zone, we weren't able to come down and score. They went on a stretch where they missed free throws, we weren't able to come down and score, and you know, the most important statistic at the end of a game is obviously offensive field goal percentage."

On frustration of not being able to take care of "the little things" in a game:
"Well, look: The bottom line is if you make free throws, if you make layups and you don't turn the ball over, you're going to win a lot of basketball games; and we missed layups, we missed free throws, and we turned the ball over. That's why we didn't win tonight. The glaring stat is the turnovers, you know, and Zarkovic; who just played great against a Big Ten team in Maryland, I think he had one, two turnovers? And you know, to come in tonight and have six at home against a team from a lower level conference, you can't have it. Can't have it. And once again, always a freshman. Eric Paschall, five turnovers. Always a freshman. So what? So what? They're the best players, that's why they're on the floor. They're outplaying other people in practice, so they've got to respond. But you're right, those are the little things that matter. If you hold a team, they shot 42 percent; 36 in the first half, 48 in the second. If you hold a team to 42 percent from the floor, and you outrebound them by 14, you should win the basketball game. The only way you can't is by turning the basketball over, and you know, 18 turnovers did that, so that took care of that."

On whether tonight's game was a must-win situation:
"In their eyes or mine? I mean, we look at the game differently, obviously, but I mean, look: Maybe we learned to lose this week, you know what I mean? That's one of the issues with going and playing games like that, but you've got to be resilient enough to build off it, and now we have the opportunity to put it behind us and, every game's a must-win in my eyes. Must-win? S***, come on! You've got to go out and you've got to win every game. It's not okay to lose. You never want to do that, and at the end of the year, games balance out. You think 'oh, we're gonna get this one and we're not gonna get this one,' it never plays out that way, so you've got to bring it every night. That's what college basketball is all about."

Nuggets of Note:
- UMass Lowell, in just their second season at the Division I level, showed their inconsistencies despite landing four players in double figures. The River Hawks were outrebounded 52-38, and shot 7-of-26 from the free throw line, good enough for 27 percent.

- Fordham managed only five field goals in the final 14:33 of the game, and of those five, three of them were stat-padding baskets for Eric Paschall in the final 1:42. That adds up to a stretch of 12:51 were a Jon Severe teardrop floater and a Christian Sengfelder mid-range jumper. UMass Lowell went on a 24-11 run in that span, with seven of the Rams' 11 points coming at the foul line.

- Despite UMass Lowell playing carelessly through most of the night, the River Hawks only turned the ball over eight times, and forced 18 Fordham miscues. Forward Kerry Weldon, who at 6-5 was the America East school's tallest starter, ended the evening with 12 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting.

- After missing the season opener against NYIT due to a violation of team rules, Jon Severe's season stats read like this: 39 minutes, 2-for-13 from the field, 0-for-5 from three-point range, 1-for-3 at the free throw line, seven rebounds, five fouls, one assist, seven turnovers, four steals; and most importantly, only five points. Severe, the 2013 New York State Mr. Basketball, who has been subject to transfer rumors and chastised for having maturity issues more often than not, was expected to be the biggest piece of the puzzle for the Rams, yet is; for all intents and purposes, the sixth or seventh man, for what appears to be a multitude of reasons.

- Finally, November 23 was once again unkind to Fordham, as tonight's defeat was played out on the one-year anniversary of the Rams dropping an 85-73 contest to a then-winless Sacred Heart team that many had expected would serve as a doormat for Fordham, whose next contest would be the "Battle of the Bronx" at Draddy Gymnasium against Manhattan, a game the Rams ultimately won behind Branden Frazier, who is greatly missed in this lineup not just for his scoring punch, but also for his discipline on both sides of the ball. Without him, Fordham looked like a CYO team that had difficulty getting out of its own way on more than one occasion tonight. Some may blame it on youth, some may blame it on coaching, but at the end of the day, there is more than one thing wrong with this team, and it might take the rest of the year to figure it out.


  1. The rest of the year, December 31, 2014 until a coach is found?

    1. They'll give him the end of the season, but that's not going to be what everybody wants or likes at the moment.

  2. They should make the change now. Why wait another 10 win season. It's a joke.

  3. The Fordham men's basketball program is a full scale dumpster fire, and Pecora is a primary cause for that. Pecora can't coach, its that simple. His success at Hofstra came through the talents of a few NBA quality guards who ran the offense and defense for him. And with all that talent at Hofstra, Pecora still never made the NCAA tourney.

    Pecora is a good salesman and what he sells best is himself. He'll make a very good color commentator for college hoops. But as a coach, he leaves a lot to be desired. Aimless ball movement on offense that usually leads to a panicked shot from NBA 3 range late in the clock. terrible shooting percentages and shot selection. No rotation on D. His players regress in stead of improving.

    There is a lot wrong with Fordham's men's program, but if they ever hope to correct things they need to replace Pecora. Paschall and Severe will probably transfer, and who can blame them? Fordham belongs in the Patriot league, where they have done very well in football. The A10 delusion is a part of the problem there.