City Sports Report

Fordham looks to open eyes in the Atlantic 10

Mandell Thomas

Now that league play is upon us, the moment of truth for Fordham has arrived. Are these young Rams ready for prime time in the Atlantic 10?

Currently at 4-6, Fordham has one more non-conference game, at home against South Carolina State on New Years Eve, before they open their Atlantic 10 schedule against VCU at Rose Hill Gym, on January 4.

Head coach Tom Pecora has to be hoping his young team can build off their last game, a convincing 74-59 win over Howard. The victory arguably was Fordham’s best performance so far this season, it also couldn’t have come at a better time.

Before their win over Howard, the Rams were outplayed in losses to city rivals St. John’s and Manhattan respectively. Consecutive losses at home ,earlier in the season, to UMass Lowell and Maryland-Eastern Shore, were inexcusable. It’s reasonable to conclude this team should be 6-4 instead of the other way around.

Fordham has had to face adversity off the court, losing Ryan Canty to injury before the season, and the early-season struggles of Jon Severe leading to him taking a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons. Indeed nothing was expected to come easy this year for Fordham, so far, that assessment has been right on the money.

 In terms of adjustments, balance, leadership, and poise — if the Rams are going to progress this season in the A-10, those four areas of the game will be essential.

Pecora was very pleased with the adjustments his players were able to make in their most recent win over Howard, this was a problem area for Fordham throughout the non-conference portion of their schedule. The Rams, with the makeup of this team, are not going to blow teams away in the A-10, this means being able to adapt on the fly when the game begins to turn in favor of their opponents.

Freshmen Eric Paschall and Christian Sengfelder have shown flashes of an offensive 1-2 punch that has the future looking bright for Fordham. Paschall is averaging 16.6 points per game this season,while Sengfelder’s coming off a 19-point performance with 8 rebounds against Howard. Sophomore guard Antwoine Anderson (8.4 points per game, 4.4 assists) has also opened eyes with his play. These three, not including sophomore guard Severe, who’s still on personal leave from the team, have given Fordham hope in their long-term plans. However, the Rams need continued leadership from their upper classmen –Mandell Thomas, Ryan Rhoomes, and Bryan Smith — if they’re going to keep up with the competition in the Atlantic 10 this season.

“We need to have that veteran leadership.” said Pecora, after Fordham’s win over Howard. “That will lift up these young guys tremendously, and it will allow them to play with less pressure on them to make shots, and I expect it from Mandell and Ryan and Bryan Smith”

Poise could be an area for this team where growing pains are going to be on full display. Fordham has a young core that Pecora gives big minutes to, long as that continues, opponents will test the Rams ability to withstand adverse situations in a game.

There have been times this season where Fordham has looked every bit the team that was picked to finish last in the pre-season conference polls. Despite the setbacks, Pecora is right to believe in the potential of his team. While the pieces are definitely in place to improve on last year’s 2-14 conference record, expectations of success this season for Fordham in the Atlantic 10 should be tempered at best.

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