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Recon: Fordham

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Games against Fordham have always proven to be a Catch-22. On one hand, you cannot afford, under any circumstance, to lose against the Rams. It’s a blight on your record that will only come back to haunt. It’s a festering sore that will never heal.

Yet, on the flip side, there isn’t much to gain from beating Fordham either. The Rams have routinely been an RPI hit since joining our fair league, a win that does next to nothing when it comes to judging NCAA tournament worthiness. You don’t get a pat on the back for beating Fordham, you merely gather your jacket and leave in an orderly fashion (fortunately, the last time the Flyers lost to Fordham, Warren Williams and Logan White were the starting guards for UD. Those were very dark days. Times some of you are lucky enough to have either forgotten or never experienced).

On a sad note, the game against Fordham may be the end of the road for the Wehrli Bird. With reports that Detwon Rogers is finally ready to take his arthritic knees out for a spin, America’s favorite walk-on will no doubt figure less and less in Archie’s plans. The man who made us believe in the fundamentals again, who made us believe that there is beauty in the ordinary, will quickly fade into the background. Like anything sterling and pure, Bobby’s Wehrld wasn’t meant to last forever.

Bobby, you met us at a very strange time in our lives.





















[/fullwidth_section] [spacer height=”15″] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Q&A with Jaden Daly[/title]

Let’s welcome Jaden Daly, a blogger for A Daly Dose of Hoops. Jalen was nice enough to answer some questions about Fordham, a true labor of love. We discussed the Fordham program from a high level point of view, trying to uncover the cancerous growth that has continually plagued the program.

010610HOFSTRA11kcI look at Fordham as if it is a struggling business. The profits are always down, people are getting laid off, and their building is close to being condemned by OSHA. How, dear God how, can Fordham become competitive in the A10?

It’s a two-step process.

First, Fordham’s athletic department, who still largely operates as though they’re still in the 1980s, needs to become more committed to putting together a product capable of actually prospering at this level. It seems that the administration still has a Patriot League mindset for athletics as a whole, but at the same time believes they are in the best possible situation as a member of one of the best mid-major leagues in the country, never mind the fact that avoiding the cellar would take as much work as it did for Robert Downey Jr. to finally lose the drugs. They just hired a new AD two years ago, so the administration isn’t ready for another extreme makeover yet, but if the status quo keeps up for another couple of years, it will be.

Second, they need a coach. With all due respect for Tom Pecora, who has been nothing but open, easily approachable and accessible, and brutally honest with the crisis he is still trying to solve, his game management leaves a lot to be desired. He’s a nice guy, but far too often hits a dead end trying to coach his way out of the hedge maze. The contract and the buyout are an issue, but if Fordham was as committed to excellence as they are in other areas, they’d make themselves attractive.

I’m not all that worried about Rose Hill, because other teams have old facilities as well and it doesn’t hurt their bottom line. Matthews Arena in Boston carries an AARP card, yet Northeastern still calls it home. Same for Penn and the Palestra. Problem is, those schools, although not always perennial contenders, get enough wins during the year to justify drawing fans to their geriatric digs and putting people in the seats. Fordham, whose best season under Pecora so far has resulted in a 10-win effort, can’t say that yet. That brings it back to the coaching.

Will it happen? Eventually, yes. It’s just going to take a really long time.

I asked this of a Bonaventure blogger earlier this week and I’m nothing if not lazy — I’m a kid with mid-major basketball aspirations, sell me on Fordham.

Fordham’s biggest sales pitch is its academics. Always has been, always will be until their basketball program finally emerges from the morass it has been shackled inside for the past two decades.

“It’s not a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision.”

Those are the words of Tom Pecora when he walks into a living room and extols the virtues of the Bronx’s Atlantic 10 representative. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have a successful win-loss record, but to play Fordham basketball for four years and to allow yourself access to an alumni base that will be a lifelong beacon of support gives you the opportunity for career success even after the basketball deflates.

That 40 year line is actually pretty good. It seems like Fordham gets a few talented guys on its roster but never turns it into wins. Am I wrong?

Not at all. Fordham has had the talent to make an upward climb in the A-10 for the last several years, with the likes of Chris Gaston, Branden Frazier, and Kervin Bristol building the foundation for a current group headlined by Mandell Thomas, Ryan Rhoomes, Jon Severe and highly touted freshman Eric Paschall. Between those four, and two more freshmen in versatile power forward Christian Sengfelder and point guard Antwoine Anderson, the Rams have the pieces, but they’re either never managed correctly, someone is injured or takes a leave of absence, or there’s a disconnect between the veterans and the rookies.

PaschallPaschall has been a standout so far. What does he do well, how can he exploit UD on Saturday night?

The best thing about Paschall is how he attacks the basket…it really is something Fordham hasn’t had since my site was created in 2009. The problem with him is he takes way too many three-pointers for a player of his size and skill set, something that will eventually be adjusted as he gets older and more acclimated to the A-10.

With a smaller Dayton lineup, Paschall should have an easier time finding ways to the basket. If he doesn’t impose his will in the lane, then the Flyers will have done their job on him, unless he settles for open shots again.

What is your impression of Dayton so far?

Honestly, I haven’t seen much of them since they lost to UConn in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and had to do a double take tonight when I saw they were 12-2. When Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson were dismissed from the team, I expected the Flyers to be done in by their lack of size when A-10 play started. Evidently, I underestimated Archie Miller again.

You son of a….

Let’s get a prediction for Saturday night. Can the Rams do anything to stop the Flyers?

They can. If Fordham can get inside to their big men and exploit the height mismatches, they’ll have an easier night. Where I think they’ll struggle is in two departments: First, against Smith and Davis in the backcourt, because their ball handlers are still learning to play with a stable hand, and secondly, having to deal with what will basically be a de facto road game because of how well Dayton fans take over Rose Hill. In five years of covering the Rams, the 2012 game that Kevin Dillard sent to overtime and then won still ranks as the biggest visiting team fan representation I’ve ever seen up there. Fordham’s going to have their hands full, and it’s not going to be pretty for all 40 minutes. They’ll fight, they’ll challenge…hell, they might even lead at points, but at the end of the night, they run out of gas. Give me Dayton, 76-66. 

[spacer height=”10″] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Overview[/title]

It’s yet another season on the brink for the Rams, as they are currently 5-8 on the year, losing their first two conference tilts to VCU and Rhode Island. Fordham seems to be on the precipice of yet another last place finish in the Atlantic Ten, you almost have to respect their commitment to consistency (Fordham has enjoyed just one winning season over the past twenty years).

Believe it or not, Tom Pecora’s program seemed on the verge of improvement last spring. The Rams were returning four starters from a ten-win club with some highly-regarded prep players headed to Rose Hill in the fall. Instead early losses to Massachusetts-Lowell and Maryland-Eastern Shore assured Fordham would remain a scourge on the rest of the league. 

My cursory research has revealed, not surprisingly, that Fordham doesn’t excel in any area statistically. The Rams are decent on the boards and are damn near prepubescent as far as their collective experience in concerned. Which isn’t to say that Pecora is sitting on a roster that will eventually mature into a competitive team. The streets of Fordham Road are strewn with the remains of Ram players that exhibited promise during their underclassmen years only to fade into obscurity during their final years in maroon. A harrowing tale indeed.


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Mandell Thomas • G (6’2″/185) • Jr.
13.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.3 spg

Fordham’s best all-around player, can do a bit of everything.

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Ryan Rhoomes • F (6’8″/235) • Jr.
7.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 54% fg

Tough around the hoop, dropped a 15/15 on Dayton last season.

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Christian Sengfelder • F (6’7’/238) • Fr.
11.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Big-bodied German that can step out and knock shots down.

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Jon Severe • G (6’2″/185) • So.
3.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.6 spg

Dude is batshit crazy, will shoot and shoot and shoot…

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Eric Paschall • F (6’6″/205) • Fr.
16.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 48% fg

Destined to toil in obscurity and never reach his potential like Chris Gaston and Bryant Dunston?

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Antwoine Anderson • G (6’0″/190) • So.
8.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 43% 3fg

Speedy southpaw that scores in bunches.

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Nemanja Zarkovic • G (6’3″/185) • Fr.
4.5 ppg, 1.8 apg, 43% 3fg

This is not the face Nemanja makes when he is walking around the Bronx at night.

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Bryan Smith • G (6’2″/190) • So.
3.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg

I swear Fordham has had a guy named Bryan Smith on its roster for over a decade.

[/column] [/row] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Numbers Game[/title]


[fullwidth_section text_color=”dark” background_type=”color” bg_color=”#C4D8E2″] [spacer height=”10″] [title type=”fancy-h3″ color=””]Prediction[/title]

If there was ever a game to predict a resounding UD win, this is the one. The Flyers are on a roll and Fordham…is Fordham. Dayton wraps up its New York trip with a victory, 78-63.



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