Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, at halftime, I said to this group...obviously, we were throwing the ball all over the place in the first half, and I said that if we could keep it under 20 turnovers; which would have meant we would have had six in the second half, we had 14, I believe, at halftime, that we would be able to be right in this game to win it, and as you saw, we had 28. I know we had two in the last minute when the game was out of reach, but nonetheless, and that's the key: When you don't turn the ball over against them, you're going to have a chance, you do turn the ball over against them, they get out on the break and (get) buckets. You know, we had two more field goal attempts than they did WITH 28 turnovers. We got them to turn the ball over 17 times, but you know, we didn't take advantage of it. They get 36 points off of turnovers and we get 11, so you know, hopefully a lesson to be learned by some of our young guys, and by our veterans, you know? I've told you on more than one occasion, we need big games out of veterans to win in the A-10, and you know, I thought Mandell Thomas competed his tail off, but we didn't get a whole lot from Bryan (Smith) and we didn't get a whole lot from Ryan, (Rhoomes) especially in the first half, and we need that leadership, you know? We need veteran leadership. So, hopefully it comes again on Wednesday when we go up to Rhody, but obviously they're a very good basketball team and you know, they could wear you down. I think (Briante) Weber is just exceptional in his ability to take care of the basketball and finish plays around the basket, they have great balance, and that's why they're such a good team."
On Jon Severe's return:
"Well, it's good. Obviously, he's the only guy that made a three, I think today, or made two of our four, rather, but yeah. You know, you can't play 20 minutes and have one assist and five turnovers, so he's giving the ball back, you know, we had two guys with six turnovers and two guys with five turnovers, so having Jon back on the floor was important. I was happy to see him out there, but you know, like the rest of the crew, he's got to continue on ball security, working on taking care of the basketball. You're putting them up, and then you're giving it back on the other end with that, but I was happy to see him on the floor, and I was obviously happy to see him make a couple of shots."
On whether opening Atlantic 10 play against VCU would help down the stretch:
"Hopefully. You know, that's one of the things I talked to them about, you know, the first five games are tough because three are on the road and the two we have at home, the students aren't here, and they're two of the premier teams in the league (VCU and Dayton) right now, two of the top four teams in the conference, but that's why it's such a good league. There's no nights off, you know, we'll go to Rhody and then we'll go down to Philly for the following trip, and then you get to come back home against GW, who's at the top of the league, so January's a really tough month for us, but (we've) got to find a way, man."
On how to prepare for VCU:
"Yeah, I mean, I'm familiar with them, but you know; they pressed when Anthony was there, Anthony Grant, as well, and we played against them a bunch when I was at Hofstra, so you know, it's all about ball security. When they lose games, you'll see turnover numbers are down around 15 for their opponent, and that's why they win games; whether it's, you know, an up game or a game in conference when they lost over the years. So, you know, you go through your press offense, you talk about little things, and then the old Mike Tyson expression comes into play, 'everyone's got to play until they get hit,' and some of our young guys, you could see they didn't respond when they got punched in the nose, you know? And that's what it's all about. Hopefully it's part of the growth process and the learning curve, and they're tougher because of it."
On what he saw from Eric Paschall and Christian Sengfelder:
"Yeah, I mean, look: They both competed. Eric's assist-to-turnover ratio, I talk to him about it all the time. He's got to take care of the basketball, and he's too big and strong to let people rip the ball out of his hands, but I mean, you see flashes of brilliance from both of them. You know, they have the physical size to compete in this league, they both work hard at what they're doing, they're getting better each day, but are they ready to go out and have a marquee game against VCU? Not yet, but I believe the future's bright with those two guys, you know? I think they're playing very well. Obviously, both were Rookie of the Week earlier in the season, too."
On why Fordham failed to remain in the game after getting within one point:
"I think it's the turnovers. I think, well, obviously, we didn't shoot the ball well, (we were) 4-of-23 from three. I told them we got some real good looks from three, you know? There was one, I know Christian got a look, I think we might have been down 11. That's a key play, because you put eight up on the board there, it's a lot easier to chase from eight than it is from eleven, so I think that was it. When you play a team like this timeout-wise, you know, I anticipate using two, if not three, in the first half, just so you don't lose your wind, you don't lose momentum. The magic number, I said, was eight. We can't let them get an eight-point lead, if they do, then we've got to burn a timeout to get ourselves back into it. You know, I call timeouts when we play opponents like this when we're at the foul line, so you get the entire timeout plus going back out, being on the foul line, so you get extended time to...instead of having to make subs and go deeper into your bench so you can keep your core players on the court, all of those kind of things. But you know, we called timeout, came out, they went on another run. The timeout didn't take away their momentum. I thought, out of timeouts, we got a couple (of) pretty good looks and we didn't make plays, and that hurts too."
More on Jon Severe:
"Well, he had two good practices, three good practices actually, because we went twice two days ago, and then we went once, long time, yesterday, so he had three good practices. Look, I'm excited about him being back, the team is excited about him being back. We're all rooting for Jon Severe, that's a given, and then his role will be defined by his performance, as everyone else's will be."
VCU head coach Shaka Smart's opening statement:
"It's good to be in conference play. I thought both teams played with really good energy. Our guys did a good job getting their hands on the basketball. We needed that because we turned the ball over more than we normally do. I thought we were a little jittery at times, which led to all of those turnovers, trying to make home run plays. I really like Fordham's young guys, I think those guys are going to be really good players. They've just got to keep getting better. That's basically the same place we are, we've just got to keep improving and making strides."
On matching up with Fordham:
"I mean, we just do what we do and, you know, there's some teams, we feel like we do apply a level of pressure if we're engaged in our full court press, we feel like we can force a good amount of turnovers, but you know, it's always most important to play with good soundness and get stops in the halfcourt, which I thought at times we did today, and then there was other runs that Fordham had that we were struggling to get stops."
On sharing the ball and adjustments Fordham may have made:
"No, I think our guys, as you mentioned, shared the ball well early. If anything, they made an adjustment in terms of matchups where they were a little more man-to-man oriented. They've been playing a lot of zone lately, and they played some zone today, but we moved the ball decently well. We missed some open shots in the first half. Assists are a number where, obviously they're high if you're making shots, and if you're not, then you could make good passes but you're not going to get an assist. We need to do a better jbo sharing the ball in transition. I thought we had too many two-on-ones and three-on-twos that we did not convert."
On how important this game was with four of VCU's first six Atlantic 10 games on the road:
"Yeah, it was important to get a road win under our belt, and obviously, in order to be competitive in a league like this, you have to find ways to win on the road. Hopefully, this was a good learning experience for all our young guys, that, hey, when you come into another team's home gym on the road, it's just a different feel. The crowd is more into it than a nonconference game, you know, people want to take you out, so hopefully we can learn from that and be ready to go."
On turnovers and overcoming jitters:
"Yeah, you know, I think trying too many, as we call them, 'home run plays.' Just make the simple play, make the easy play, hit singles, and I think good things will happen from there. As you mentioned, the second half, I think we settled down better and only had five turnovers. We've been taking care of the ball really, really well the last few games, so hopefully this was an anomaly."
Nuggets of Note:
- The 28 turnovers forced by VCU were a season high for Shaka Smart's team, besting their previous high water mark of 24, set on December 2 against Illinois State. VCU scored 36 points off the 28 miscues, and their "Havoc" defense asserted itself progressively as the game went on.
- Even if VCU could not score off every turnover, they did manage to record 21 steals, also a season best. All but two players registered at least one theft for VCU, led by six from two-time reigning Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year Briante Weber, who moved into the top five in the nation for career steals during the afternoon.
- In the losing effort for Fordham, Mandell Thomas recorded his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but aside from the 15 points amassed by Eric Paschall to lead the way, it was the only other double-figure scoring performance for Fordham. Ryan Rhoomes and Christian Sengfelder, the latter of whom was held to single digits only once in the last five games, combined for only 10 points and 16 rebounds.
- A 7-1 run out of the second half got Fordham within one point at 38-37 with 18:35 remaining, but 14 unanswered points by VCU snuffed out any hope of an upset before a crowd of 2,719 at Rose Hill Gym that saw the visitors lead wire-to-wire despite a 14-for-30 performance at the free throw line.
- Finally, easing himself back into competition for just the fourth time this year and first time since a November 23 loss to UMass Lowell, Jon Severe made his return with 11:18 remaining in the first half, and quickly scored seven points in his first four minutes of action. The sophomore also sparked a defensive resurgence with a steal in the open court, but only managed two more points the rest of the way. Nevertheless, one would expect him to see a fair share of minutes in Fordham's next game, on the road Wednesday against Rhode Island.