Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fordham 66, La Salle 61: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer's opening statement:
"My message to the team after the game was that regardless of what conference you're in, in Division I basketball, this is what a conference game looks like, and it doesn't look like this every night. There will be nights where offensively, we play really, really well, and maybe we can get away from somebody, but in general, conference games are going to be five-point games, one-possession games, and we need guys to play well to win them. Certainly, our defense in the second half was a big reason why we won, meaning that we did play man-to-man for a lot of the second half, and we were able to get a lot of stops. A lot of people made free throws down the stretch, including Ryan Rhoomes and Antwoine, (Anderson) and I told Ryan in the locker room that I've coached a lot of great players, and the second half that he just put forth was the best I've ever seen as far as just a second half of basketball. He was dominant, and 25 and 18, great numbers."

On starting Atlantic 10 play 1-1, and what it means as conference play heats up:
"We didn't have a lot of wins like this in the non-conference schedule, meaning we won games by double figures, so we're going to have to get used to games like this, because you can't run away from everyone in the Atlantic 10. There are going to be grinds, and you need defensive stops; which we got in the last eight minutes of the game, you need to make free throws down the stretch, you need to have better value for the ball in the second half than you did in the first, and then you need dominant performances from your seniors. That's what Ryan gave us in the second half."

On encouraging signs during Fordham's second half:
"I think the biggest difference in the second half was simply that Ryan Rhoomes went out and got every ball off the glass. His teammates did do a better job of throwing the ball into the post in the second half. We got the ball in the post the first half too, in the second half, he got it over and over, but the ones he didn't get in the post, he went and got off the glass."

Ryan Rhoomes (25 points, 18 rebounds) on his performance and praise he received:
"It feels real good. At the end of the day, I just wanted the win, so it doesn't matter if I got a career high in rebounds. I just want to win. I could have zero points, zero rebounds. As long as we win, I'm happy."

"It's real nice to hear that. I never really heard that the past few years, you know? It's really nice to hear Coach wanted me to go out, and praise me for accomplishing my goals and doing what I had to do on the court."

Neubauer on Antwoine Anderson (11 points, 9 assists) and his performance:
"We need contributions from a lot of people. Obviously, different people can do different things. Everyone has a different strength, and Antwoine did pass the ball very well today with his nine assists. Just looking at this box score, I think the biggest thing to note is that other than Ryan Rhoomes, not a single player played well offensively. Defensively, we had a lot of guys give amazing effort, but if you go up and down this box score, I don't think there's anyone who's going to say 'man, I really did a terrific job with the offensive end.' That's why I used the phrases I'm using to describe how Ryan Rhoomes played, because no one else could find a way at the offensive end, and he carried this team."

Update on Joseph Chartouny:
"He's got an ankle injury, and we don't know when he'll be back."

On importance of Atlantic 10 games:
"It's not about how important they are, because every game in our program is important. What it's about is we're going to have conference games that are like this, meaning close games where you have to guard and you have to make free throws down the stretch. You have to do one or two things in close-possession games. The other thing we're going to learn from this game is our best offense, and we've said this to the team before: Our best offense is Ryan Rhoomes going and getting it off the glass. Our second-best offense is Ryan Rhoomes getting the ball in the post, so we're going to continue to build off that idea."

On Fordham's 34 free throw attempts:
"It's important because first of all, La Salle has struggled to guard the arc this year. However, in general, John Giannini's teams always guard the arc really well. The point is, it was a struggle from the perimeter, so you've got to find other ways to score, and around the basket, getting fouled, was a great way to score."

Rhoomes on his confidence level never being higher:
"No, not really. When I was in high school, it doesn't really matter now, in high school, I also had another great coach in Ron Naclerio. He pushed me just like Coach Neubauer pushes me, and he gave me the most confidence I've ever had in my life."

"It's definitely similar. If you look at the numbers, I've grown as a person, as a player. I've just had two great coaches in my life, Coach Neubauer being one of them, just pushing me to my maximum limit."

Neubauer on facing his alma mater for the first time:
"It's a question I've certainly thought about, because the other uniform said La Salle. For example, we were in this film room with our team and we were showing clips of their players, and you could see La Salle on the jersey, so it certainly brought back memories and thoughts that I hadn't had for many years. I don't know that I treated this game any differently, I don't feel like I did. I just treated it like a conference game where our team needed to compete."

Rhoomes on Fordham's 10-game home winning streak:
"It feels real good to be winning at home. We've never been undefeated at home ever, so it feels real good. It's great for our team, it's great for our organization, so hopefully we could just keep it rolling, get more A-10 wins, and see what we do in the A-10 tournament."

Neubauer on whether he sees something special brewing:
"If you're asking me, we hope so. That's what we talk to our team about. We have three goals as a team, the only one that we talk about publicly is that we want to be the most improved team in the country. We are on our way to doing that, we actually have a chance to do that. We are in that conversation. We have two other goals, and those goals are set incredibly high, so yeah, we're hoping to do special things."

Nuggets of Note
- Not only was Ryan Rhoomes' 25-point night one off his career high, his 18 rebounds setting a personal best, he was also incredibly efficient. The senior forward ended the evening with a staggering 2.08 points per possession, and 17 percent of Fordham's trips down the floor ended with the ball in his hands. Aside from Rhoomes, the rest of the Fordham offense shot a mere 22.5 percent (9-for-40) from the floor.

- In a contest that resembled a rock fight for the bulk of its 40-minute duration, Fordham found an opportunity to penetrate the lane and draw contact on La Salle after the intermission, taking 28 foul shots in the final stanza compared to just seven attempted by the visiting Explorers, good for a 34-15 disparity for the game.

- Nemanja Zarkovic poured in a season-high nine points, and at times, he was the Rams' hottest hand among players not named Ryan Rhoomes. In fact, the Canadian point guard was Fordham's leading scorer for a portion of the night before Rhoomes began to heat up, connecting on three three-pointers to offset the combined 4-for-24 effort from Christian Sengfelder, Jon Severe, and Mandell Thomas.

- La Salle was limited to just seven players, six of whom played major minutes, as the Explorers lost their seventh straight and eighth of nine after starting the year 3-0.

- Finally, this is a game that last year's Fordham team probably would have lost in a similar vein to the UMass Lowell and Maryland-Eastern Shore affairs of November 2014, especially after how La Salle went up 27-20 late in the first half. Much to Jeff Neubauer's credit, and his players as well, the Rams rallied and played spirited, disciplined basketball down the stretch, further illustrating not only how far this group has come, but also the stark contrast between the current coach and his predecessor, Tom Pecora.

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