Three Thoughts: Fordham 69, Siena 67

Siena, who trailed by as many as 13, had a chance to tie the game with just seconds left. Patrick Cole drove the ball and tossed it down low to Brett Bisping, The 6’8” junior went up with it, but it was blocked by freshman Eric Paschall to end the game and Siena’s chance at a tie.

wright_siena2
Siena sophomore Marquis Wright led the way with a career-high 31 points, but it was not enough at Fordham on Monday night.

“If he dunked it it would have been an and one,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said reflecting on the game’s final play. “I guess he doesn’t dunk anymore.”

Fordham picked up their second win of the season, their first over a Division I team, in beating the Saints on Monday night 69-67 at Rose Hill Gym. The Rams corrected plenty that had been hurting them on their five game slide, while the Siena’s lack of effort reared its ugly head in a half where they couldn’t make a basket for over eight minutes. Here are three thoughts from the Rams’ two-point win.

Siena’s Struggles Reared Their Ugly Head – The biggest nightmare Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos has had to deal with is having a group that has been told they are so good that they believe it, but don’t show it on the court.

“I’m not doing a good job right now, because I cannot convey to my team, as a unit, as a whole to play 40 minutes,” Patsos said. “I am trying. I am trying everything I can. I am being mean, I am being nice. We are having hard practices, we are having rest days. I am trying everything I can to get this team to play 40 minutes and forget about last year’s CBI championship.”

Over the course of the first half, Marquis Wright carried the Saints, scoring the team’s first eight points on his way to a career-high 31. However, it was the offense Wright runs that had trouble, after going up 18-10 on a Bisping three-pointer, Siena was held without a point for over eight and a half minutes.

“We weren’t executing plays well tonight,” Wright said. “Fast break was basically the only way we were actually scoring.”

Siena’s spacing appeared to be off for most of the first half, where they made just six two-point baskets on 23 attempts (26.0%). It was that frustration, and the Saints persistent foul troubles, that allowed Fordham to get up by as many as 13 in the second half. Siena put the Rams to the line 32 times on 25 total fouls. However, Patsos was more frustrated with the lack of effort against the size and strength of an Atlantic 10 team.

“I can’t seem to get through to certain guys on my team about playing hard,” Patsos said. “I can’t get us to play 40 minutes and I’m upset. I’m mostly upset at myself.”

The Saints players and second-year head coach agree that putting tighter a consistent 40 minutes every night has been an uphill climb.

“We have to want it and the whole team, I guess, doesn’t want it,” Wright said. “We have to get there, and as a team, we have to rebuild, regroup and just come out from here on out and want it.”

A tough loss to Fordham has Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos (center) searching for answers.
A tough loss to Fordham has Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos (center) searching for answers.

Growth, but Maturity Needed from Paschall – As an 18-year old freshman, Eric Paschall will have a strong future at Fordham. He’s already shown it, scoring double-digit points in four of the team’s six games. A part of his maturity cleared the high bar tonight when he swatted away Bispings layup attempt in the waning seconds of the game.

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora
Fordham head coach Tom Pecora believes freshman Eric Paschall will be a special player.

“He’s a big-time athlete and he’s got a great future and we’ve got to get him to guard,” Fordham head coach Tom Pecora said.”As a freshman, he’s still learning how to do that, but I love the fact that he has no fear.”

Paschall had the ball in his hands for the majority of the night, whether it be as the man to break the press, posting up, or shooting three-pointers from the corners. The 6’6” freshman drained a three from the right corner to put the Rams up 41-29, and on the next possession hit a three from the left corner to extend the lead to 13.

However, playing in just his fifth game, the freshman mistakes showed – especially when he drove hard on Rob Poole and missed a runner in the lane. His frustration compounded it as he fouled on the rebound, picking up his fourth foul and having to see the bench with 9:14 left in the game.

“He was a little tentative when he came back in with four fouls, but we needed him on the floor,” Pecora said. “We never needed to lose that lead and I was holding, and holding, and holding to get him back on, but he obviously has got a chance to be a special one.”

Less than four minutes later, he was back in the game, and in for his crucial game-ending block – the second of his young career.

“Marquis Needs Help” – Those were Patsos’ words reflecting on Wright’s career-high 31 point effort, besting his 20-point effort against Marist last season.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Marquis Wright,” Patsos said. “I didn’t think Marquis played very well against Vermont. I said you need to give 40 minutes to this team; he did. We won at St Bonaventure, we won at Loyola and he couldn’t have played, nobody played harder or better tonight in the whole country.”

For 24% of the team’s possessions, Wright created and scored 31 points – for the other 76%, the Saints scored just 36 points. The main culprit in that was a eight and a half minute scoring drought, where Siena struggled to run any offensive sets.

“Nothing was going on,” Patsos said of what went on during the drought. “I said run the play, whether it’s man or zone, they were in sort of a matchup zone. We wouldn’t complete the play.”

This was the first game where junior Ryan Oliver struggled, making just two of his seven three-point shots. Senior Rob Poole also struggled to find open shots, and when he found openings to drive, his runners were contested as he scored just six points – his lowest total since scoring four against Monmouth in last year’s senior day game.

The other part where the Saints struggled was in the rebounding category, they were out rebounded by four, but it was allowing 12 offensive rebounds – six of which to Rhoomes – that doomed the Saints inside. Every rebound they went for was difficult, against a team with comparable size to them.

“We have a few guys on our team right now who’s desire I am questioning, but I’m questioning my own sensibilities for playing some guys, that were really good last year, that seemed to have lost their desire to get the ball,” Patsos said. “We were 2-7 last year and decided to start working hard. I’m telling guys to go 40 minutes and I can’t get some guys to go 40 minutes and work hard, so that’s my fault.”

Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

One thought on “Three Thoughts: Fordham 69, Siena 67

  1. This was a horrible game to watch. Fordham is just awful, but to their credit played with great energy. Siena sleepwalked through most of the game. Siena seemed to think this was a guaranteed win.

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