Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, you know, there was a stretch there at the beginning of the second half (where) we went from up six to down six, and I think that was the game right there, and the separation at the end ends up being six. You know, (Derrick) Gordon did a great job on the backboard, he beat us up on the glass. I thought we did a great job on (Cady) Lalanne, we did a good job having other guys step up. Ryan Rhoomes, Dekeba (Battee-Aston) did a good job defending in the post, our weak side help was there, but you know, Lalanne's a good player; he didn't force things, he made sure he kicked it out, and in the second half, you know, there's that little, like, four-minute stretch, I watch the film now, and that's really what kind of killed us there, I think. We did a decent job taking care of the basketball, a couple of turnovers, you know, hurt us at about the eight-minute mark, I think, when we were making a run at them, and then (Trey) Davis was great tonight. He didn't miss from the foul line and he was solid from the floor. Those threes he made were deep and big, so...but we competed, and I told them we're right there. I said 'don't you dare lay down, don't you dare quit.' Last week's effort against Rhody, we come up a little short, today, we come up a little short, against two teams that are at the top of the league and have thirteen wins each, and we're there. We just have to continue to get better and continue to make a couple (of) plays, but once again: I'm looking at, you know, Eric Paschall and Christian Sengfelder and Jon Severe to make those plays. I thought Mandell Thomas did a decent job at the point again, he continues to grow. He didn't get enough shots for himself tonight, you know, but five assists and one turnover, that's a darn good ratio for a guy who's been playing the point for, you know, four, five games. We're just going to continue to grind. Like I said, we're halfway through the conference schedule, there's a lot of games left, and the A-10 tournament, and we're going to continue to get better, and we're going to find some wins."
On Christian Sengfelder (9 points, 16 rebounds) and whether he can still be considered a pleasant surprise:
"Without a doubt. Without a doubt, I mean, you know, we recruited him like a football player in the sense that I never saw him live. Tommy Parrotta saw him, and I watched film, and you know, we looked at his size, his ability to do things, and you know, he really didn't shoot the ball great tonight, (but) he made a couple of big shots, but...I was kidding with him because his national coach from Germany came to watch him, so I said 'do I have to get him an apartment to get you to get 16 rebounds every night, does he have to live in New York for the rest of the season?' But, you know, look: The freshmen, how much more can we ask, you know what I mean? They're making mistakes, but they're making aggressive mistakes, and when Eric attacks the rim, it's either a dunk, a layup or a whistle, but at times he still settles, you know, and I think that's the difference between him having a great shooting night and not. He's 4-for-15, a couple of fadeaways, you know, but there's a learning curve for freshmen, and Jon's playing again. I think Severe's playing again. You know, we've still got to work on his defensive effort for stretches, but he's playing, and that's why we've been in these last couple of games. We have another offensive option."
On Fordham's defensive effort:
"Yeah, and you know, we didn't have that many turnovers. You know, turnovers can be deceiving because it's where they occur, how they occur. Are they turnovers that go out of bounds? You know, now all of a sudden you're not leading the other way, but they were live turnovers. I thought the one out at halfcourt hurt us, I'm not sure if it was Mandell or Antwoine, (Anderson) but there was one on a crossover where we got sloppy with it, and boom, they go the other way, you know? So, we didn't have a lot of turnovers, but they were costly ones in the sense that they were live turnovers."
"Look, we executed a good defensive plan against them. Our thing was we had to make sure Lalanne didn't get the ball, because they can just pound you in the paint, you know, on post-ups. They did a good job of scoring in the paint driving the basketball, but we outscored them in the paint. We wanted to make sure they had to beat us over the top, and in the second half, the difference was Davis, you know? Davis made those two or three threes in the first half, they weren't making anything on the perimeter, and that ends up being the difference, those two threes, when you look at a six-point game."
On whether or not Fordham missed Branden Frazier more in a game like this against UMass' backcourt:
"Yeah, well they miss Chaz, (Williams) we miss Branden, you know? There's always that 'well, (if) we had this guy one more year, you know?' Kervin Bristol, when he was here our first year, we were like 'damn, we should have redshirted him,' because he could have been really good in year three, you know, but you've got to let them go after four years, you've got to set them free. So, but once again, I think the success Branden Frazier had morphing from a combo guard to a point guard is helping Mandell tremendously, because he sees his future with the ball in his hands, and he's working really hard, watching film and doing things on the floor as a point guard and making sure we don't have empty trips, and that's important. You can't afford to have empty trips. You know, we had seven more shot attempts than they did this evening, but a couple of them rattled halfway down, you know, and (if) a couple of them go down, it's a different game."
On shot selection and the looks Fordham is getting:
"Oh, no doubt, no doubt. I think, you know, we've made some adjustments to what we're doing offensively, we're sharing the ball better, and I think having Jon on the floor making some shots creates space, and when you have space, you become a better offensive team."
On confidence in one-possession games:
"Hey, look: When we first got here, we were getting blown out all the time, guys. I mean, thank God I'm friends with guys in the league. I mean, the first couple of years, there were guys that could have put the wood to us by 40 every night, and out of the goodness of their heart, we were losing games by 20, 25, just about every night, you know what I mean? So now, you know, we're there. The young talent level's good enough, and it's there, so we just have to continue to coach them up, you know? Tomorrow, we're going to be right here where you guys are sitting now, we're going to watch a bunch of film of this game, we're going to start watching some Saint Louis, we're going to go out (and) walk through some things, but a lot of guys played a lot of minutes tonight, so we won't go live, and then we'll get ready Friday and prepare for Saint Louis on Saturday, who's playing very well, (and) beat St. Joe's at home last night."
On only committing 10 turnovers tonight, and how it is encouraging going up against Saint Louis' defense:
"Yeah, they're just tough as nails, and Jimmy Crews, I'm old enough to remember him as a player. He was a tough son of a gun, and they play a lot like Indiana defensively. It's going to be a much different game than this in the sense that you're not giving them any space to shoot the ball on the perimeter. They shoot the ball well and they defend really tough in a tough man-to-man concept, so it's going to be a different game and a different challenge for us."
On rebounding and executing the game plan:
"It was good. Well, that's what I said at halftime. I said, 'guys, the reason we're in this game is we're doing a great job executing the game plan,' and that's a sign of maturity. So hopefully, we're maturing in that sense. But that is exactly why we were able to stay in the game. I mean, hey, we lost our way for about four or five minutes, and that cost us the game, and they didn't. They continued. That was their speed. All of a sudden, there were turnovers, they were getting out on the break, they were doing this, you know, and the pace of the game; we came down, shot a quick three one time. Miss, long rebound, it's like an outlet for them, boom, and they're off and running. Now, I'm happy about the job on the boards, but our guards (have) got to do a better job rebounding, you know? I mean, I just said to them, Derrick Gordon's 6-2 1/2, you know, Eric's 6-6. Bryan Smith, you know, played 25 minutes, had one rebound. He's the same size as him. We've got to put a body on him, we've got to make, you know, he gets 10 rebounds, we maybe win this game, you know what I'm saying? So it's those little things, and obviously, you guys, it drives a coach crazy, because you see those things, and some people say, you know, 'I'd rather get blown out than lose a close game.' Not for me. I want to compete, and I want to look at this and be able to show my team tomorrow 'here's a handful of things that we could have done that could have changed the game,' and they're little things, and you know, the little things add up, and they become big things."
Nuggets of Note:
- The loss, Fordham's 15th of the year against just five wins, not only dropped the Rams to 0-9 in Atlantic 10 play, it was also Pecora's 100th defeat since replacing interim coach Jared Grasso in 2010. With just 39 wins in that same time span, Pecora has a .281 winning percentage that has dropped his career record 32 games below .500 since arriving at Rose Hill from Hofstra five years ago.
- While Trey Davis' 26 points led all scorers, it was Derrick Gordon who set the tone with a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double. By Gordon not having a true matchup at the point guard position, it enabled him to create advantages in UMass' favor by attacking the lane and picking up the pieces on the defensive glass, similar to how Chaz Williams was able to raise his rebound totals not just for the Minutemen, but also for Pecora at Hofstra before transferring.
- Leading 41-35 after 20 of the Rams' best minutes of the season, Fordham came out flat to start the second half. A 25-8 UMass run, started by the pair of Davis threes Pecora mentioned in his press conference; and one which culminated in a one-handed Jabarie Hinds dunk, essentially iced the game. Fordham resumed a slight advantage shortly thereafter, but essentially traded baskets with the Minutemen rather than capitalizing off misses and empty possessions.
- Ryan Rhoomes and Bryan Smith were the only Rams to shoot 50 percent or better from the field, combining for a 10-for-15 effort. The rest of the team was a paltry 14-for-49, just one more field goal than the duo of Gordon and Davis, who went 13-for-22, shooting 59 percent from the field.
- Finally, in a sport where officials are criticized far too often than praised, the work of Jeff Anderson, who worked the game alongside two fellow respectable referees in ACC veteran Ray Styons and local regular Ron Tyburski, was exceptional yet again. Anderson, who was part of last season's NIT championship crew, has proven on several occasions that his vision and ability to judge the legitimate calls from those that fans and media like to nitpick is deserving of high-profile assignments. Perhaps his work will be rewarded with another long run into the NCAA Tournament.