Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fordham 69, VCU 67: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer's opening statement:
"I'm certainly proud of this basketball team. We had a win a week ago at Davidson that I'm as proud of as any win I've been a part of in my twelve years as a head coach, and obviously Davidson's a great team and that's part of it, but the other part is our group has been through more adversity than I have ever seen a team deal with as far as injuries and illness. We're not the only team in the country dealing with that, but our team has seen a lot, and so for us to get that win at Davidson last week showed a lot about the character of our guys, and I think this one does too. We had a lead, VCU came back and took the lead in the second half; the game went to overtime, VCU was up five in overtime. Our guys showed a lot of resilience."

On the last possession of overtime, which ended in an Antwoine Anderson buzzer-beater:
"It's actually the exact same thing we were trying to do at the end of regulation, and at the end of regulation, Antwoine got a ball screen, drove the length of the court, got in the lane and made a good decision and kicked it out. Joe (Chartouny) passed up a shot, gave it to Chris (Sengfelder) and then Chris got it blocked at the end of regulation. It was the same idea: Just get the ball to Antwoine, try to get a ball screen for him to create some freedom, but it wasn't about a play at all, it was simply about a player making a shot."

On Fordham's resilience and what has changed since earlier in the season:
"I think, first of all, this team has toughened. Our team has a realization after going through as many losses as we've endured, these guys understand how hard it is. Chuba Ohams adds a lot to our team. I didn't play him much until the last six minutes in here against St. Joe's, and then he played double-figure minutes at Davidson, 30-some-odd minutes in our last game and now 35 tonight. Chuba adds a lot."

On stopping VCU's Justin Tillman in the first half:
"Our idea, our mentality, was to try to keep the ball away from the basket. VCU is so physical and strong, and they've got such good interior players, it's really hard to do. They not only do it by getting it inside to their big guys, but they do it by driving it, they do it by rebounding it. For us to sit here and say that we outrebounded VCU by seven, that's a big part of stopping their interior guys."

Antwoine Anderson (15 points, including game-winning basket) on last possession:
"I was supposed to hand it off to Joe. They were kind of overplaying him, so I told to move out of the way. I just wanted to get a nice shot off."

Neubauer following up:
"He was supposed to fake hand off to Joe. I wanted him to have the ball."

Anderson on his last buzzer-beater:
"Last year, against Rhode Island."

Anderson on team mindset after VCU opened a five-point lead in overtime:
"We just wanted to stay with it and stick together. That was the biggest focus that we had today. We knew that they were going to come out and hit us in the mouth after halftime, and we knew that once we got down those five points, I just grabbed the team together and said, 'we're gonna win this game and we're gonna stick together. All we gotta do is protect the basketball.'"

On committing only one turnover against VCU's Havoc defense:
"Coach has been preaching since he's been here that we need to have value for the basketball, and I knew in order for us to win tonight, we had to value the basketball because they're really good at turning teams over and converting on the other end."

Neubauer on significance of tonight's win vs. Fordham's win at Davidson:
"I think because of where our team was at that time, and VCU's a great team. Beating VCU is a terrific win. It was more about what our team had endured to that point, and that was an easy point because we had lost nine out of ten. I think that Davidson win, I'm not ranking them, but that Davidson win; to me, is pretty strong."

Nuggets of Note
- Neubauer may feel stronger about Fordham's win at Davidson, but tonight's game was arguably his best effort as a head coach in the year-and-a-half tenure he has sustained at Rose Hill. Harping on the Tom Pecora regime tends to get old after a while, but it seemed like a Pecora team would have had problems adjusting to VCU in the first half and gone downhill from there. Neubauer deserves credit for speeding the game up in the opening minutes, and then allowing his players to weather the storm and band together, as Anderson referenced, to pull out a big win against a VCU team whose NCAA Tournament at-large hopes were dealt a significant blow at the final buzzer.

- Chuba Ohams had not done much in the non-conference season, but the 6-foot-8 freshman impressed on the glass in 35 minutes, grabbing 10 rebounds against the likes of Justin Tillman and Mo Alie-Cox. Ohams' total on the boards doubled that of any individual VCU player, a contributing factor in Fordham's plus-7 margin in total caroms.

- After dealing with a December slump that was partially induced by injury, Joseph Chartouny returned to the form he captured Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year honors with last season. The Canadian point guard scored 15 points, dished out six assists, and registered six steals to accompany five rebounds in an all-around solid effort that was augmented by Javontae Hawkins leading all scorers with 22 points.

- Arguably the most impressive aspect of Fordham's victory was that it was done with a short bench. David Pekarek is still out, and Jesse Bunting only played one minute. In addition, Will Tavares and Prokop Slanina saw limited action, so it was basically the starting five carrying the load for the bulk of the night against a deep and versatile VCU team. Fortunately for the home faithful, the challenge was certainly met on this night.

- What won the game for Fordham was their commitment to aggressive defensive basketball. The Rams turned VCU over a grand total of 22 times, and for large portions of the evening, seemed to beat Will Wade's team at their own game, something that does not normally happen to a team as disciplined and unique to prepare for as VCU. Fordham was able to dictate the tempo impressively in the first half and not let up after that, and their reward was their first-ever win against VCU in seven attempts.

- Finally, here is video footage of Antwoine Anderson's buzzer-beating jumper, courtesy of Russell Steinberg at Mid-Major Madness:

And here is the final call of Anderson's game winner, courtesy of Drew Casey and WFUV:

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