Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fordham 74, Howard 59: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, I said a very solid second half, I was very pleased with it. All the adjustments we made, they were able to execute the game plan, which was to pound the ball inside against their zone, and we held (James) Daniel to four points in the second half, so that was big for us. We reached a bunch of our game goals, holding a team under 40 percent from the floor, they shot 37, not allowing anybody to score 20, I think Daniel had 19, a lot of good things, 37-24 on the glass, 12 offensive rebounds. We went from shooting 48 percent from the foul line last game to 92 percent this game, so their youth is making me old. Mandell, (Thomas) great job, you know, playing with poise, getting where he needed to get, Christian (Sengfelder) dominated the second half, which is the way he's capable of playing, 8-of-14 from the floor was huge. So, that's it. We'll take it."

On Fordham's 79 percent assist rate (22 assists on 28 field goals):
"Yeah! Well, once again, Manhattan extended the floor against us, that's something we talked about and worked on, and they (Howard) did the same today, so yeah, you've got to learn from your losses, that's for sure. It appears that we did tonight, anyway."

On Mandell Thomas' 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds:
"I told him he had to get 10, (rebounds) I told him I want 10 rebounds tonight because I know if he gets 10 rebounds, that means he's playing hard, he's not just floating around every now and then, teasing us with great athleticism. So he had five at the half, he only got one in the second half, so I'm mad at him. We can live with it tonight, but I expect him to go out...he's got the ability to go do that, to go fill up a box score and do everything that needs to be done, you know? He had seven assists too, and only two turnovers, so that's good. That's the kind of ratio he needs to have."

On this game and Wednesday's game vs. South Carolina State preparing Fordham for Atlantic 10 play:
"Yeah, well, you know, once again, we talked about that. I said 'we have to build off the second half,' I just said to them, and you know, we have to play back-to-back halves like we did in the second half tonight to beat South Carolina State and build off of that, and then go into A-10 play and go get some wins in the A-10, which I anticipate us doing. I expect us to do it. We continue to get better, and we just have to keep working on the little things, and we'll be okay."

On veteran leadership:
"Yeah, and even Rhoomesie! (Ryan Rhoomes) Rhoomesie has 11 and 9, and Mandell has 17 and 6 and seven assists, and that's what we need. That's the leadership we need. It's great, and we have Christian, and we have Eric, (Paschall) you know, playing big roles as freshmen, as Antwoine (Anderson) is, but you know, nine assists, one turnover, Antwoine, that's a great line, and I don't think he played very well. I was on him about defending Daniel better, so, you know, we need to have that veteran leadership. That will lift up these young guys tremendously, and it will allow them to play with less pressure on them to make shots, and I expect it from Mandell and Ryan and Bryan Smith, who was solid tonight as well."


Mandell Thomas on his performance:
"I just think it's important for me to get the freshmen going, get them comfortable, because I've been out there, I'm a veteran, and I think I could ease my way into the game, but I've also got to stay aggressive, though, let the veterans know I've got their back, and that's what I did tonight. Overall play, rebounds, because I know Coach always gets on me on rebounds, but I think I did a better effort trying to get more rebounds tonight."

Pecora following up:
"Yeah, well, you know, once again, we've talked about this earlier in the year, you have good balance. We have a number of guys that are scoring double digits, you know, I talked to Ryan Rhoomes about four points at the foul line, four points on offensive rebounds, and a couple in transition in the course of offense gets him his double-digit points. I know him and Christian are going to battle and rebound the basketball, and I mean, yeah, that's what good teams are. Good teams have four, five guys in double digits, and it's a brush fire, you know? You can't put it out, somebody's always picking somebody else off, so that's a good thing, obviously. Balance is a good thing."

On Fordham's transition game:
"Well, we had nine turnovers at the half, three on ridiculous alley-oop decisions, you know? It's like 'man, just be solid and get us a layup, you know?' We're trying to get separation, 12 or 14 points. We don't do it in practice, so I don't know what goes through their minds at times, they think it's going to happen during games. There's a time and a place for it, I understand that, but it's got to be a good decision and the time has got to be right, so I was happy with only five turnovers in the second half. Our goal is 12, 13 tops each game. I thought the zones were good, we just put some of that new stuff in, and we're going to continue to do it. We need to do that in conference especially, we've got to take teams' legs away, you know? We've got to slow down the pace a little bit and be able to run out of the zone, and I think we did a decent job of that tonight too. Weak side rebounding wasn't great out of it, we still have guys turning and going and rebounding instead of going to put a body on somebody, but we'll work on that."

Christian Sengfelder on his acclimation to the offense:
"Yeah, I think so. I think I'm adjusting every day, every day I practice, because we compete really hard, especially like, on our positions and with Rhoomes, so yeah, I think I'm adjusting every day and I'm getting better, and trying to feel more comfortable, especially with the leadership we've got from Rhoomes, Smitty (Bryan Smith) and from Mandell. They bring us into this game, they give us advice to feel more comfortable, to make the right decisions."

Pecora on Fordham's 4-6 start:
"Well, look: You can't , you know, live with a rear view mirror, but obviously, we're upset about the two games we lost at home earlier in the year, (to UMass Lowell and Maryland Eastern Shore) we'd like to have those back, you know? I said we should be 6-4, not 4-6 right now, and maybe even better than that, so, but once again, if we learn from some of those experiences and it makes us a better team and allows us to win more games, starting with South Carolina State and then moving to conference play, that's what it's all about. I think, you know, if you look at the youth of this team, I mean, Bryan Smith's the only guy that won't be with us next year, and Ryan Canty comes back and joins us next year, so you know, it would be foolish to think we're not going to grow and become a better team as we move forward."

Pecora on shortening his rotation:
"Yeah, well, one of the things with the young guys; and it's not an issue with Christian, it's not an issue with Eric or Antwoine as often, but some of the other guys, they didn't have a good week of practice, so, you know, you're not going to get what you want, you're going to get what you deserve, and what you earn. So, a couple of the guys came through and they, you know, the holiday blues and, you know, you're in high school a year or so ago and all of a sudden, they think 'oh, it's Christmas practice, we're going to screw around, I'm not going to come in and be ready to go,' so maybe they learned a lesson, and, you know, it's amazing how that can be a motivator if guys are sitting on the pine for a while, you get them going more in practice maybe."

(In the Manhattan game) "The foul shooting was bad, I thought, our lack of aggressiveness in the second half bothered me immensely. One of the terms we use all the time is 'first to the floor,' and that, you know, when you look at certain statistics, when you look at offensive rebounds and when you look at, you know, those 50/50 plays when you watch tape, the rebounds, when two guys have it and that ball's rolling on the floor, when guys are genuinely giving up their bodies to get it as compared to guys who are diving because they know Coach wants them to dive. Thosse are the plays that tell the tale, and in the second half, I thought Manhattan, their veterans played better, obviously, and you know, that was part of the issue, but they played harder than we did, you know, for a good stretch of that game, and you're not going to win...we're not this crazy talented team that's just going to beat people on talent every night. It's going to be a grind."

Nuggets of Note:
- Christian Sengfelder scored all of his 19 points in the second half in what was, by far, one of the German freshman's best games in a Fordham uniform. After being rendered a non-factor over the first 20 minutes, Sengfelder broke the ice on scoring after the intermission and scored all of the Rams' first 11 markers after the intermission.

- With 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds, the crowd of 1,568 at Rose Hill Gym, and those watching at home, were treated to the Mandell Thomas of old. The junior guard, whose explosive style took on a life of its own around this time two years ago, came close to what would have been the Rams' first triple double since the 1990-91 season, and set the tone for an offense that shot 54 percent (28-for-52) from the field tonight, and 65 percent (17-for-26) in the second half.

- As it usually is for Fordham, it did not come easy. The Rams led wire-to-wire, but allowed Howard to tie the game on several occasions late in the first half before taking a slim 28-26 cushion into the locker room, allowing the possibility of another letdown similar to the aforementioned UMass Lowell and Maryland Eastern Shore games to conclude November. To Fordham's credit, however, and specifically Christian Sengfelder, the Rams took care of business in the second half for some of their best basketball of the young season. The transition defense was spectacular as well, registering 23 points off 14 Howard turnovers.

- Finally, with one more game before Atlantic 10 play starts, South Carolina State may not necessarily be a trap game for the Rams, but their Wednesday matchup at noon must not be taken lightly, even with VCU coming into Rose Hill to open the A-10 portion of the schedule Sunday afternoon. Should Fordham not get out of the blocks in their final non-league tuneup, it could send the downward spiral that has plagued Pecora over the years into a continued frenzy.

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