Fordham struggling in A-10 play

Whether its the fact that Atlantic 10 teams have seen this before, the schedule has been difficult, the legs are giving out or something else altogether entirely this much is clear – Devon McMillan, Bryan Smith and Branden Frazier are struggling shooting the ball in conference play. After Wednesday night’s 102-58 loss to Richmond the three of them have combined to shoot over 50% just once in conference play (McMillan was 4-7 against Rhode Island).

Fordham put up an effective field goal percentage of 37.5% against the Spiders. Unfortunately, that type of performance isn’t unheard of this season. The season low for the Rams was 29.5% at Loyola (IL) – a team that’s now 0-10 in the Horizon League – and they also shot worse against St. John’s, Manhattan and Hampton (a game which they actually managed to win). The problem though isn’t this one game. It’s the sustained performance of McMillan, Smith and Frazier over the past six games.

Here are their shooting stats through six A-10 games:

Frazier — 34/88 (38.6%)
Smith — 18/67 (26.9%)
McMillan — 7/28 (25%)

You’ll also notice that McMillan just isn’t shooting very much in conference play. He’s attempted four of fewer shots in four of the six conference games. His minutes have also dwindled. He played a season low 10 minutes against Richmond.

For Frazier it may just be a case of the minutes piling up. Then again, it’s not like his shooting percentage is that far off from his season average. It’s just more noticeable now because as Fordham consistently can’t find a second scorer along with Chris Gaston it’s Frazier that is being pressed into duty. He’s attempted 15 or more shots in four of the Rams’ six A-10 games, though in the past two he only attempted 17 combined.

As for Smith, he’s a three-point specialist. 61.8% of his shots this season have been from beyond the arc. Thus his shooting percentage is always going to be a little lower. Still, Smith is shooting 29.7% from beyond the arc this season and 26.2% (11/42) during conference play. Both of those numbers will have to rise if Fordham is going to put together a competitive offense.

Looking at these numbers its no wonder the offense has struggled over the past few games. But the reason I think it might be the legs? The defense has left the Rams. The strong defensive effort that helped Fordham survive during the non-conference part of the schedule and led to upsets of Siena and Harvard has disappeared. Every A-10 team has scored more than a point per possession against Fordham – including Rhode Island.

It may just be a case of talent. These last five games have been against some of the most talented teams that Fordham will see this season. Then again, the Rams have played teams of this level close before this season. Saturday against George Washington will be a good test for the young Rams. Can they rebound and return to competitive basketball in conference play? Or is this team already looking ahead to 2012-13?

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