Fordham Can't Overcome Costly Turnovers in Loss to Richmond

Charles CostelloContributor IFebruary 16, 2014

Fordham's Mandell Thomas, left, and Massachusetts' Maxie Esho, battle for control of the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Amherst, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill/Associated Press

After Wednesday's loss to St. Bonaventure, Fordham head coach Tom Pecora provided a brutally honest assessment of his team's performance during opening remarks of his press conference broadcast on

"That's as disappointing a loss as I've had since I've been here at Fordham," he said.

He then spent the majority of his time with reporters talking about how upset he was with the Rams' defensive effort, noting that the Bonnies collected 17 offensive rebounds and scored 44 points in the paint.

To help illustrate his point, consider the following: The four guards who started the game that night played a combined 135 minutes and had only 11 rebounds. Pecora specifically mentioned Mandell Thomas, who grabbed just two rebounds in 37 minutes. (Jon Severe played 33 minutes and had one rebound.)

As a result, Pecora insisted that "changes are coming," and said that his team would "play big the rest of the year."

Presumably, that meant going away from the four-guard lineup that started against St. Bonaventure.

But then there's this: Pecora can talk all he wants about shaking things up, whether that means going big or demanding more production from his guards, but the fact remains that, given the players he has, there's only so much he can do. 

As a result, the Rams find themselves struggling down the stretch. Earlier this season, coming off a strong showing against non-conference opponents, the mood was very different.

On Jan. 11 at Rose Hill, Fordham lost to Richmond, 77-74, in overtime. As bad as things were going for the Rams at the time (it was Fordham's fourth consecutive loss), when the teams met again on Saturday night at a sold-out Robins Center, things had gotten worse for the Rams. 

If you don't focus solely on the final score—an 82-70 loss to the Spiders—and instead go off of what Pecora talked about a few days ago, there are some positives you can take from Saturday's game.

If defense and rebounding were the Rams' two biggest concerns heading in, then you have to like the improvement from a few nights ago.

Fordham out-rebounded Richmond, 37-25 (the four starting guards had a combined 18 boards), collecting 12 offensive rebounds while the Spiders had just four.

The Rams had 30 points in the paint; Richmond had 28. Though the Spiders took a double-digit lead late, Fordham stayed with them for most of the game. The Rams were within two, 51-49, with 10:38 left before Richmond pulled away.

But when you're struggling, all it takes is for one thing to go wrong. For the Rams, it was turnovers. Fordham turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 23 points for Richmond. That was the difference in the game.

"We played very hard," associate head coach David Duke told WFUV Radio after the game. "We had a couple untimely turnovers, and those turnovers led to easy baskets for them."

What was most disappointing was that the majority of the turnovers were unforced. On a night when Fordham showed improvement, when its defense came through with a better effort and the rebounding was strong, the Rams were done in by the turnovers.

"We got a lot of good stops," Duke said when asked about the team's defense. "We did a good job on the glass. But once again those turnovers, with them scoring 23 points off of those turnovers, it was just tough for us to overcome that."

Severe, a freshman, led all scorers with 28 points, and senior Branden Frazier contributed 24 points and nine rebounds as Fordham dropped to 9-15 on the year, leaving the Rams to wonder what could go wrong next.