The surprising announcement today that Ryan Canty is going to take a leave of absence from the Fordham basketball team due to a personal matter is certainly a blow to the Rams’ depth in the front court.
“We want only what is best for Ryan Canty as he addresses these issues,” said Rams head coach Tom Pecora in the release. “We will continue to support Ryan in any way we can. We ask that everyone respect his privacy at this time and we wish Ryan and his family the best as he moves forward.”
Canty’s departure causes some big depth issues for Fordham up front. The 6’9″ junior forward was playing 13 minutes per game in a three-man rotation with Ryan Rhoomes and Travion Leonard. The Rams’ four-guard lineup will minimize some of the loss, but it’s going to be even more difficult for Fordham to match up with teams that have more physical big men.
As it stands Fordham was already allowing opponents to grab 33.6% of their misses on the offensive end, which ranks 206th in the country. (Take that with a grain of salt though, because a lot of it has to do with Syracuse grabbing 50%.) Still, Manhattan, St. John’s and Harvard will provide big tests on the boards during non-conference play.
The more troubling issue for Fordham is the fact that neither Leonard nor Rhoomes has shown any ability to stay on the court through the first three games, even though the Rams are 2-1 overall. Leonard is committing 15.2 fouls per 40 minutes, while Rhoomes is at 6.9 fouls per 40. Even Bryan Smith, who has been entrusted by Pecora with some defensive work in the paint from his guard position, is committing 6.6 fouls per 40.
The Rams were already trying to replace the rebounding of Chris Gaston. Canty was the logical replacement given that he was one of the best rebounders in the entire nation last season, especially excelling while Gaston was out of the lineup. Still, Rhoomes and Leonard also put up solid defensive rebounding rates during their freshmen seasons. They just need to stay on the court.
Another advantage for Fordham is that the way Pecora’s system is constructed this season getting scoring production from the front court is an added bonus. Fordham’s top four leading scorers are guards, with Rhoomes coming in fifth at 6.3 points per game thus far.
Still, with 13 minutes of guaranteed effective front court play gone Pecora will need to shuffle the deck a bit. He could try playing 6’5″ freshman Jake Fay more, but he’s more of a guard and hasn’t shown a knack for going to the glass in limited minutes.
It’s a tough situation in general, but luckily the Rams have almost a full week before they host Sacred Heart on Saturday to figure things out. Even then the Pioneers shouldn’t provide too much resistance in the front court. Things could get much trickier next Thursday though when the Battle of the Bronx gives Fordham fans their first true glance at how this team is going to adjust to being a little undermanned and undersized.