Sunday, December 14, 2014

St. John's 74, Fordham 53: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, you know, I thought we played well for about 15 minutes, and after that, we looked like a young team playing against a veteran team, which is what we were. I thought they did a great job on the defensive end, I think the maturation of some of their players in regards to shot selection and things like that, we wanted to force them to beat us over the top, but they didn't bite. They were very patient, they were able to drive the ball and get in the lane and kick and get real good looks at it, and we hurt ourselves obviously with turnovers. But, you know, I look out there at times and I see three, if not four, freshmen, so there's an upside and there's a downside to that. We'll get better, and they're a good team, they're worthy of their Top 25 ranking, and obviously a veteran team that's going to win a lot of games, I'd imagine; and we're going to take tomorrow off and start preparing for Manhattan next Monday at Barclays."

On improved ball handling in the second half, and Eric Paschall:
"We take good things away from all of it, you know? With the freshmen, you just break down every tape and we show them little things. One of the things is they rest when they're tired, they rest on the defensive end, and veteran players rest on the offensive end, you know, and they continue to defend, so that's what hurt us. We got into just exchanging baskets, and a good number of the, you know, two or three of (Antwoine) Anderson's turnovers were charges. So once again, we're talking to them about being aggressive, but you've got to know when to pull it up, put it off the glass, take a pull-up jumper. Paschall, you know, you can see flashes of it, and as I've told a number of you prior to the game, we're really used to working on getting him in great shape, because in preseason, he was banged up, so he didn't get the full gist of our conditioning program, and we're still working on that, but he could be a special player. He's got a chance, and Christian Sengfelder was coming off a big game, and I thought he really competed for a freshman too, so those are two big bodies and two cornerstones, along with Anderson, that we can build off, I believe."

On whether St. John's smaller lineup and transition game compromised Ryan Rhoomes:
"Yeah, no doubt. I think their transition game and just their speed, you know? They're just a little quicker to the ball and all of those kind of things, so this wasn't a great game in that sense, and then actually, when (Chris) Obekpa left, it was even harder for him because they went and played small and switched everything, and that made it tougher for Ryan."

On continuing to play hard despite trailing by double digits:
"Yeah, well, look: Here's our focus for this year with this young group, seven freshmen and a few of the veterans: All I've said to them is, 'Guys, if you give 100 percent and you stay focused, we'll have a chance to win a lot of games,' but we lost our focus the last five minutes of the first half, and then all of a sudden, you're playing catch-up, and young teams put their heads down. The only thing I said to them in the press conference was 'we're going to show a body language tape tomorrow, and I'm going to show you guys when you make mistakes, you're putting your heads down.' Next play, man. Next play. That's what good college players do, but that's all part of staying focused and the maturation process and all of that. So, that's our war cry, you know? Give 100 percent and stay focused, and they're continuing to work on that, so I'm very happy that a lot of them are working on it and getting better at it, alright? We weren't better or good enough to do it for 40 minutes tonight, but hopefully we will be next time we get on the court."

On facing Manhattan one week from Monday:
"Yeah, I didn't even see them because I wasn't even sure if we could watch them because it's not a true tournament where you play someone the next round, so we didn't scout them, but in this day and age, you know, we have every game they play, they have every game we play. They're a good team, you know? (Emmy) Andujar's very, very good, (Ashton) Pankey's a good player, obviously Stevie (Masiello) does a great job with them, so I'm going to try to wait until tomorrow to start worrying about them or thinking about them."

Nuggets of Note:
- Fordham led the first 10 minutes of the game, thanks in large part to a solid offensive showing from Antwoine Anderson, who scored nine points before running into foul trouble and having a hard time handling the ball against St. John's zone defense and half-court pressure. Seven of the Rams' ten field goals in the opening stanza came in the first 10:25, when Fordham was on top of St. John's.

- Chris Obekpa was ejected from the game with 3:48 remaining in the first half after receiving his second technical foul three minutes after being assessed his first in an incident where Anderson was also called for a technical. When Obekpa departed, St. John's led 28-25. The Red Storm went on to close the game on a 46-28 run, including an 11-3 spurt to head into the locker room up 39-28 at the intermission.

- Fordham got the better of St. John's on the boards, which is usually the case given the desire of Steve Lavin's teams to do most of their damage in transition, but that was about all the Rams were able to emerge victorious from. Rysheed Jordan, whose 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting tied a career high set on February 16 against Georgetown, proved to be the difference, as did D'Angelo Harrison, who poured in 22. Together, Jordan and Harrison shot 71 percent from the field (17-for-24 combined) and accounted for 62 percent of the Red Storm's total offense.

- Although Eric Paschall led the Rams with 14 points and eight rebounds, and did not have the Madison Square Garden debut that Jon Severe struggled to with his 1-for-21 shooting last year in this game, he was not given the ball as much as a player of his talent should have received. Paschall can be a potentially program-changing player, and a perennial all-Atlantic 10 talent. However, it gets harder to justify his potential when the entire offense consists of moving the ball around the arc for half the shot clock and then relying heavily on the three-point shot, which comprised 22 of Fordham's 49 field goal attempts.

- Finally, the Rams head into the Battle of the Bronx one week from Monday against Manhattan with a 3-5 record, one game better than the Jaspers' 2-6 ledger going into Barclays Center after their loss to Rutgers Sunday afternoon. A key for Fordham going into this game will be their backcourt, as it was both Severe and Branden Frazier who made the difference last November in a 79-75 win at Draddy Gym. In addition, the loss of Rhamel Brown allows Ryan Rhoomes to match up better with Ashton Pankey, and potentially establish himself under the rim early and often.

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