Monday, December 22, 2014

Manhattan 71, Fordham 57: Quotes from Tom Pecora

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, I said, we always give the team three keys to the game, and number three is generally the most important, we underline it, and it was 'the tougher team will win this game,' and they did. I think, you know, the worst thing you can do at times with a young basketball team is jump out and get an early lead, because they start thinking 'oh, we're better than these guys, the game's over,' and they just kept grinding and grinding, as I knew they would, and they would come back. The other thing we talked about is the veterans stepping up for us. With seven freshmen, it's really important that the veteran players step up and have big games, and we knew (Emmy) Andujar was a key for them, you know, we talked a lot about Shane (Richards) being able to shoot the basketball and (Ashton) Pankey around the baskets, so their three veterans, I thought, stepped up and did a really good job. Our guys struggled at times, they were up and down, but it's hard when you look in a timeout or you look at the bench or just now speaking with them and you have, you know, you're looking at freshmen and you're trying to get freshmen to make plays to win you games, and it's not an excuse, it's just the way it is right now, but I thought they did a good job. I thought their energy, obviously we come out 20-8 and they go on a 22-5 run, I think, to end the half, and then the first five minutes of the second half when they came out and hit two threes, and God, we shoot free throws in practice every day, and we don't leave until we shoot 80 percent as a team, so to come out and shoot 48 percent and miss 13 free throws in a game where you lose by 13 or 14 points can be challenging. So, as I've said before, their youth is making me old. We talked about ball security, and we turned the ball over 18 times, and that's obviously not acceptable too, but that's it. Back to work, we get a couple of days off here for the holiday and we'll be back and practice a couple of times on the 26th."

On what he sees from his team:
"Well, I think at the end, it gets a little different. They have a lead, so they're defending a little differently. We played small at the end to try and come up and go after them defensively, we didn't do a great job with that, but we did string a bunch of stops together, so the difference was stops, you know? It's a lot easier to score off misses than it is after they get organized in their defense after a made basket, but I think that was a big part of it at the end, you know? We opened the floor up a little, but that's the way they want to play, but God, I think we had it at 10 and Eric (Paschall) missed a dunk and a free throw, and then Nemanja (Zarkovic) missed two free throws at ten, you know? You want to break that 10-point barrier, and then things get a little dicey, and the pressure goes to your opponent, you know, all of a sudden they're giving up the lead, but at 10, they still feel pretty confident, but I think those were the big differences. We started hot and we ended cold, that's for sure, especially in the first half."

On whether Manhattan's depth wore Fordham down:
"Not a whole lot. I think we played eight, I mean, we throw some guys in there early, you know? Dekeba, (Battee-Aston) Manny Suarez, but you know, Bryan Smith, Mandell Thomas and Nemanja all played, so I guess we played an eight man...a seven or eight-man rotation, which is what we usually do. I think, look: There's a timeout every four minutes, we're all using most of our timeouts. College basketball now, you're playing three or four-minute spurts, and we're in good enough shape to do that, so I don't think the fatigue factor wears you down as much as it used to, but yeah, I mean, we won the battle of the backboards, we, you know, we both went to the foul line an equal number of times, so I thought in the second half, though, there would be effort plays that we had talked about: Being the first to the floor on loose balls, 50/50 rebounds, stepping in, (and) taking charges to protect the basketball. We didn't make those effort plays in the second half, and they did."

On free throw shooting:
"Yeah, like I said, look: We're pretty good free throw shooters, I mean, we have a couple of guys that aren't, but guys like Eric Paschall shooting 80 percent from the foul line, he shoots 3-of-7, you know what I mean? So I don't think, check with me in February. If we keep shooting 48 percent, I'll call you, I promise."

On defending Manhattan's three-point shooting:
"Yeah, well more so, I thought, in half court with the zone trap. We didn't have a ton of backcourt turnovers that led to layups, but in the frontcourt we talked about...when they extend like that on you, what you need to do is not try to run offense, you need to basically rip the ball and try to go by someone. It's similar to what Georgetown did for years, they just come out and take you out of offense, so you know, the guys needed to turn and get the ball in the lane, and when we got the ball on the baseline, I thought we did a good job. We did a poor job with Richards, and that was, you know, 4-of-6 from three, that's the whole game for them. The term we use is 'X-ing someone,' which means you don't help off of them, you stay with them. We were in a defense where we switch assignments on screens and dribble handoffs, twice he got really good looks off of those, another time, one of the guys ran at a non-shooter when he was open in the corner instead of just staying disciplined and running to him, and look: That's the best they've shot from the perimeter. Obviously, we came out zone, and our goal was to make them beat us over the top with the exception of Richards. I thought (Rich) Williams' two threes were huge. I think he had great confidence, and he made those two threes and that really extended their lead at the beginning of the second half."

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