Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer's opening statement:
"First of all, our success this year; the five wins that we've had, they really have been based on defense. We've really defended terrific, so even though we were 5-2, we really felt good about our team because of our defensive effort. Not only the steals, but the fact that we really were taking stops from people, and so I do think that's the story of this game. Sacred Heart scored 71, and we knew they were an explosive offensive team. The phrase we used before the game was 'they were the fastest team to offense that we've played so far,' and they scored 27 points in transition. To me, that's the game."
On allowing Sacred Heart to shoot 61 percent from the floor despite forcing 24 turnovers and 13 steals:
"Yeah, 61 percent, that number doesn't mean as much to us as it means to other teams, simply because we are stealing the ball or turning other people over at such a high rate. They did get some good looks at the rim, and those, we're working to get rid of. We didn't protect the basket very well."
On Joseph Chartouny, who left the game in the first half and did not return:
"I haven't seen Joe. I'm not sure what happened, I do know that the doctors said he could not come back in the game. There was some blood, maybe there was something with his elbow."
On whether not having Chartouny changes his game plan:
"I think the way Will Tavares played, Will stepped in and really played great. He played 30 minutes and really shot the ball well, and was pretty effective defensively. I don't look at that being what cost us the game."
On Javontae Hawkins:
"He played really like we asked him to play, so he was not trying to create too much. He really was efficient. Some of the things that really hurt us, we posted up a few times and got called for offensive fouls. Those were maybe four of our 17 turnovers. We're not used to those four turnovers, so I've got to watch the tape, but as far as how we valued the ball other than those post-ups, I thought it was terrific and Javontae really played with the right purpose."
On what Hawkins gives this team that it may not have had last year:
"What he is, he's aggressive; and so the fact that he plays in attack mode, that's really a valuable thing to have on any team. Today, he really figured out how to play in attack mode and value the ball, so he played a really good game."
On non-conference tests:
"This is what the preseason is full of, meaning tests; and what I said to our staff earlier, I said Sacred Heart's statistics...because they've been on the road the entire year, their statistics don't look very good. But they're certainly a much better basketball team than what their stats are, and they did find an effective way to guard us in the second half, where we struggled to score. The bigger story, I think, is simply how they attacked our defense, and when they weren't turning it over, they were finding good shots."
On switching from man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone late in the game:
"We told our team going into the game in this very room that this was strictly a man-to-man game, but what happened was they really were attacking us well, so we did have to try to hold them off with maybe two or three possessions of 2-3."
Nuggets of Note:
- Joseph Chartouny was limited to just nine minutes after suffering what WFUV termed a "deep elbow laceration." There is no word on when the sophomore point guard and reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year will return, but it would be shocking if he were not back by Fordham's game one week from tomorrow against St. John's.
- For all the advantages that went Fordham's way in the box score, such as a plus-7 turnover margin and 27-17 edge in points off turnovers, the Rams were decimated on the boards to the tune of a 32-14 runaway. Sacred Heart's Joseph Lopez nearly matched Fordham's collective rebounding total, grabbing ten caroms of his own in a double-double.
- Javontae Hawkins affects the game in so many ways, and it is easy to see from the onset. Shooting 9-of-11 from the floor, the former South Florida castoff is clearly a solid shot maker and disciplined player, but it is his defensive mentality that makes him the total package. Coming from a similar style and influence at Eastern Kentucky, where he played under Dan McHale a year ago, Hawkins is able to translate his skill set seamlessly to a team that plays very close to that philosophy.
- Fordham was also on the short end of a 28-15 disparity in free throw attempts, something that may not have played a large factor given the transition nature of tonight's contest, but nonetheless it is a factor that the Rams will need to work on going into Atlantic 10 play.
- Finally, the turning point of this game was twofold. First, a 17-3 Fordham run late in the first half gave the Rams the control they needed to pull away to a convincing victory. However, any momentum the home team hoped to carry out of the locker room from that was snuffed out by Sacred Heart's gradual comeback. Secondly, the other turning point came with 2:01 remaining in regulation, after head coach Anthony Latina picked up a technical foul in the midst of an 11-0 spurt for his Pioneers. Hawkins made one of two shots before David Pekarek, who was fouled behind the three-point line in the act of shooting prior to the technical, made all three of his shots to give the Rams a 70-66 lead. To Sacred Heart's credit, what could have been a collapse turned into a spirited rally, as they looked for the most efficient shots over the final two minutes to pull off a significant upset on the road.