Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fordham 71, George Mason 65: Quotes from Pecora, Smith, Sengfelder

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, it was very similar to the game we played down there a few weeks ago. We were challenged, we knew Eric (Paschall) wasn't going to be 100 percent, (and) that's 18 points a game for us, so our guys had to step up, but I think it was quite fitting that Bryan, (Smith) being a senior, being a few miles from home, being in Brooklyn through and through, Midwood High School and all of those things and being our lone senior, for him to make plays...I told him I loved him so much after he made that crazy turnover. I still ran a play for him after that in the press offense to get the ball, but and then for Christian, (Sengfelder), this is very close to Munich as well! So, there's a couple of good German restaurants, Christian, that you could go to around here, so, you know, once again, we're a young team with seven freshmen, but Bryan Smith...the job Bryan has done throughout the year, whether he's played well or he hasn't, he's always been a steady force. He's been tremendous in practice, great in the locker room, and the job that he has done has really allowed Christian and Eric to mature a lot quicker than some of our freshmen have in the past, because they've had great leaders, Bryan Smith and Ryan Canty; who's out, but will be back next year as a fifth-year senior. So, you know, it was one of those games where we couldn't get that separation. We talked about playing better defense, but in the second half, they were drilling some shots. You know, we always, one of our game goals is always to win the battle of the boards, and we did by two, and (Shevon) Thompson, he's a beast, I mean, he's really, really difficult to prep for, and we threw three or four different defensive schemes at him, with different people going in and doubling him on the catch, doubling him after the dribble, doubling him big on big, guard on big, so we just kept him off balance, and I think that was a key for us tonight."

Bryan Smith on getting a second Atlantic 10 tournament win in as many years:
"It's satisfying, I mean, we played the same team two years in a row, and to get them both times is a great feeling. I mean, we worked hard to get wins, we had some wins that we shouldn't have, we lost close games, but this is satisfying."

Smith on Christian Sengfelder and whether or not he was capable of a big game:
"Definitely. Chris, he works hard every day, like, that's his demeanor. He's always a hard worker, a good guy, I mean, I knew one of these days, it was going to happen sooner or later."

Christian Sengfelder (27 points) on his 10-of-13 shooting:
"I don't follow it at all when I'm playing. I just want to make baskets, help the team win, and if I shoot 10 out of 13 and we win, I'm happy. If I shoot 5 out of 11 and we win, that's fine too. I'm just trying to help the team win. Everything is great. To win an A-10 game, and then win the first game in the tournament at Barclays Center, it's a great feeling. I'm happy to be here, blessed to be here, I like it."

Sengfelder on feeling additional pressure with Eric Paschall not 100 percent:
"I'm trying to come into games without having pressure at all, like just trying to take the pressure off of me. We played the last two games without Eric and we lost both games, so there was a little bit of   pressure on me, and on the team as well, it kind of compensated. Eric was out, but as I said, we try to get good games without any pressure, any thoughts in my mind, just play the game."

Sengfelder on preparing for VCU:
"Watch film, talk to coaches, I work real closely with them, like Bryan said, after every practice, how I could play them, I talk to Coach Pecora, Coach (Tom) Parrotta, everybody. I don't know, we'll figure it out."

Smith on what he tells freshmen going into tournament games:
"I mean, I tell them that it's much more intense. I mean, the time from the tipoff to when the clock hits 0:00, I mean, that's the difference right there. I tell them it's more intense, that's it."

Smith on playing in Brooklyn:
"It's a great feeling, I mean, I had a lot of friends and family here cheering me on, cheering the team on. I mean, I'm glad I get to win in front of them, especially like 10 minutes away from here, that's where I live."

Pecora on winning an Atlantic 10 tournament game for the second straight year, addressing criticism of a slow rebuild:
"Look, you know, it is what it is. I think that, when you look at Eric being Rookie of the Year and Christian being on the All-Rookie Team, you know, you have bookends at the three and four spots, we have Canty and (Ryan) Rhoomes coming back next year to play the five, Mandell, (Thomas) who's basically been playing the point guard spot for about a month, will have a whole spring and summer under his belt, and fall next year as he prepares, we'll have a senior point guard, and then with Bryan the only one leaving, I think the future's bright, but that's the way I've always looked at things, no matter how this season goes with the team. Very rarely have I come out in a season and said, you know, 'this team's in trouble for next year.' You know, what I complimented them on, and you guys have heard me say this before: We had our 88th practice yesterday, and they had three bad practices all year. So for a group with this many young people to just go out and compete like that every day and not lay an egg, it speaks in volumes. They just never quit. They believe in themselves, they really do, and a lot of it comes from these two guys, (Smith and Sengfelder) from Mandell, Ryan Rhoomes, but I just can't shake Mason! It's like, you know, I've been with them for so many years now, from my years in the CAA and everything we went through in 2006, and then to continue to play them, and it just seems like every year in the A-10 tournament, we'll get them, or we've gotten them, rather. So now, we'll just prepare for VCU and you know, we'll be up watching film and get ready for that when we get back there."

On Christian Sengfelder:
"Yeah, it's awesome, and he just, again: You hear it about a lot of kids, he just keeps getting better and better. We have a hard, physical practice, I come back out 20 minutes later and he's still shooting with one of the coaches. He's just got tremendous, pays attention to detail, his work ethic. We really, I recruited him like a football coach. I watched him on film, and after watching, like, three or four films on him, I sent Tom Parrotta over to Germany, and he called and he's like, he sent back a picture of him standing next to him to show me how big he was, he said; and Tommy's almost 6-6, 'you know, he's big and he's good,' so I said, 'bring him to the Bronx!' So, we were able to get him in on a visit, and it's all worked out, but I'm excited about coaching him. He's a lot of fun to coach."

On preparing for VCU:
"Yeah, I mean, you know, it's interesting. We haven't, and I'm probably jinxing myself here, I mean, we've had some games where we had a lot of turnovers against them, but the key, when we've played tight in close games, is you just can't have live turnovers. You can't turn the ball over in the backcourt, you can't turn the ball over where it's live and they can go the other way. I'm sure they're going to be all fired up, they've been through a little bit of a rough patch, and I know Shaka will have them very well-prepared, but, you know, it's mid-March. We know what we have to do. We know how we have to execute against that kind of pressure, and then we've got to punish them for it. We've got to make some plays on the offensive end after you get by the first wave of pressure."

On how different Fordham is since playing VCU on January 4:
"Much better. When I saw the league schedule come out, I was like, I mean, we opened right out of the gate, a young team in January, it was tough. We played VCU and Dayton the first two home games, and then we got a GW team in there. Our road games were tough, but we're more mature. We're playing with a different point guard now, with Mandell, I think Christian's skill set at the four can be very helpful when attacking teams that press, so hopefully all those things come into play."

On Sengfelder's efficiency:
"Yeah, well, I think, what he did a great job of in the first half, he slipped a few screens, and, you know, he got them off balance with that, got a couple of layups, you know, instead of setting his screens, so by doing that, it really softened them up around the basket, and they were concerned about that, and in turn, he was able to pop and get a couple of good looks. The good thing is, he doesn't force many shots. He doesn't get...I don't remember him, honestly, I don't remember him getting a three-pointer blocked this year, because he's got a great feel, you know, if somebody's going to contest it, he's not going to take it. So, I think his shot selection is exceptional as well."

On Mandell Thomas' steal and layup late in the second half:
"Yeah, I was shocked he didn't make the All-Defensive Team, because obviously, he's not (Briante) Weber, but he was second to him in steals in the conference. He's a real good defender, you know, he has total freedom to do that in the course of what we do, you know, I let him just kind of read the quarterback, so to speak, and see if he can jump the pass and go the other way, so that was a big-time play, you know? At Richmond about three weeks ago, in a tie game with about a minute to go, he tried to jump one, and man, he missed it by that much, and we lose the game by three, but I told him after that, 'you've got free rein.' His instincts are great, and then that was a big play for us, because we were struggling at the offensive end, missing some free throws, and we're the best free throw shooting team in the conference, you know, we're up in the 80 percentiles there, so that hurt us a little bit there."

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