City Sports Report

A date with St. John’s awaits the young Fordham Rams at MSG

Fordham vs George Mason Opening round of A10 Basketball Championship

Fordham has their toughest challenge to date on the young season, a showdown in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden on Sunday with the 24th ranked team in the nation, the St John’s Red Storm.

The Rams 3-4 record points towards the inconsistency that’s plagued them early in the season. Much of this can be attributed to having one of the youngest rosters in Division 1 college basketball. Head coach Tom Pecora has also had to navigate his team through the loss of sophomore Jon Severe, arguably their best player, to a leave of absence. Fordham suffered two deflating losses recently to UMass Lowell and Maryland Eastern Shore, two games they arguably should have came away from with wins. However, the Rams have since rebounded nicely with wins over Siena and Monmouth at home.

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St. John’s, coached by Steve Lavin, is off to their best start since the 2009-10 season when they went 9-1. Unlike the Rams, the 7-1 Red Storm are a seasoned group, featuring senior D’Angelo Harrison. The confidence is growing with each win for St. John’s as the season inches closer to conference play. They’re coming off an impressive road victory against former Big East rival Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The win helped lift the Red Storm into the Top 25 rankings for the first time in four seasons. St. John’s would then go on to take care of business at home with a commanding 74-52 win over Fairleigh Dickinson.

Fordham’s Eric Paschall has been solid this season, averaging a team-high 18.8 points. The Rams have also seen improvement from sophomore Antwoine Anderson and freshman Christian Sengfelder. In recent weeks, Pecora has placed an emphasis on the need for more leadership from his upper classmen, specifically Ryan Rhoomes and Mandell Thomas. Both players must continue to answer that call, as it’ll require an all-out team effort to keep pace with St. John’s.

The x-factor for the Rams in this game ,in my opinion, is Mandell Thomas. He’s shown flashes of the talent that Pecora raves about, however, with Severe’s playing status still up in the air, Fordham will need more from him as the schedule from here on only gets tougher. It’ll  be worth watching also how Paschall and Sengfelder play on the big stage of the Garden.

With the background of playing in Madison Square Garden, this could be a coming of age moment for the Rams, however the experience of St. John’s may prove to be too much.

If Fordham can hang with the Red Storm, it could prove to be beneficial down the road from an experience viewpoint. However, if they lose badly, it could very well be the early knockout punch to their season.

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