SD: What percentage of Fordham fans do you think actually expected to land Jon Severe and what is their level of satisfaction with his play so far? Do you think his freshman campaign has overshadowed the great things Brendon Frazier is doing?
Jaden Daly: I would say about half of the Fordham fan base realistically expected Severe to sign, and if Tom Pecora and David Duke didn’t start going after him as soon as his season started last year, the number probably would have been considerably lower. I wouldn’t say his numbers have overshadowed Branden Frazier, but what Severe’s presence has done for him is make him a much better point guard, something he had struggled with over his first three years. Frazier himself has considered Severe’s arrival to be a weight that was lifted off his shoulders, and you can see it in his play. No longer is he throwing shots up at will, he now recognizes the need to distribute and places the team far ahead of his own needs than in years past.
SD: The high end of the players Tom Pecora’s bringing into the Fordham program seem like they’re getting more and more talented, but does he have enough of them in place to get to the next level in the Atlantic 10? What’s missing at this point?
JD: Fordham definitely has enough talent to make a run at the next level, but what is lacking is a scoring forward who stays out of foul trouble. Sadly for Ram fans, that won’t arrive until Eric Paschall comes to Rose Hill in November. That’s not to say the front line doesn’t produce now, but the bulk of the attention on both ends is devoted to the guards just because of how Pecora’s system, which places a premium on moving ball screens and maximizing offensive spacing, is constructed.
3. Fordham seems wildly inconsistent with a good win against Manhattan and some bad losses against Sacred Heart, Siena and Monmoth. What do you think has led to the swings?
It’s not about the youth for Fordham anymore. Each of the three losses you mentioned had a different underlying factor. Against Sacred Heart, it was the lack of rebounding, especially in the second half. The Monmouth game was a freak accident where Fordham went cold down the stretch and Monmouth happened to hit four consecutive threes over the final three minutes to steal a win that Jon Severe was seemingly willing Fordham to get, and the Siena game fell apart when Pecora was forced to play five guards with Bryan Smith at the five after both of his forwards fouled out two minutes apart from each other. When the Rams play fundamentally sound, mistake-free basketball, as they did against Manhattan and even against Lehigh before that, they’re just as good as any team in the middle of the A-10.
SD: I don’t know how many Duquesne fans will be making the trip in Brooklyn for the A-10 tournament. In your opinion, what restaurants are worth hitting up right now even if tournament attendees would need to take the subway or even a train to get there?
JD: If you don’t mind the travel into Manhattan, take the #6 train to Canal Street and walk a few blocks down to La Mela on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. The food there is unparalleled in terms of quality, and they’re reasonably priced too. On the Brooklyn side, Peter Luger speaks for itself just over the Williamsburg Bridge, and Grimaldi’s is home to one of the best pizza pies in the city. Those are just a few, and I’m sure my friend Jon Rothstein has a couple hundred more off the top of his head!
SD: That was an out of this world answer.
What is your general impression of the Atlantic 10 so far this year? Has the drop off in the overall quality of play been more or less than you expected following the Big East and football related defections?
JD: I wouldn’t call the A-10 a drop off yet, but I will say that nearly everyone with the exception of VCU (and maybe UMass) has played a lighter schedule than I would have expected. I’m not sure if this was done out of design to give each team some momentum heading into conference play, but it seems like the league is holding its own without Xavier and Butler in particular, while Charlotte and Temple are still trying to find their way in Conference USA and the AAC, respectively.
SD: If you had to put a finger on the unsung hero so far for Fordham, who would it be and why?
JD: Fordham’s unsung hero is twofold. For starters, Ryan Rhoomes is having a quietly solid sophomore season, highlighted by a pair of double-doubles last month, but he gets little to no attention thanks to Frazier and Severe leading the charge in the backcourt. The other man in this category would be the third guard, and that’s Mandell Thomas. This is a player who would start on any other team in the league, except VCU. Thomas is the rising star of the A-10 for a reason…watch his contributions on both ends of the ball and you’ll see why it is that he’s got all-conference honors coming his way sooner rather than later.
***Thanks to Daly for taking the time to answer these questions for us. You can follow him @DalyDoseOfHoops.