Fordham released its nonconference schedule for the 2014-15 season on Monday.
Fordham Men’s Non-Conference Basketball Schedule to be Released via Social Media on Monday http://t.co/w4b74n4R6S— Fordham Athletics (@FordhamRams) August 10, 2014
At 10 a.m. on Monday, the first matchup was announced:
While the Rams' Atlantic 10 schedule was revealed back in May, there was great anticipation and speculation about which schools Fordham would play before the 18-game conference season begins in January.
Some opponents were already known, but there were a few interesting surprises along the way.
Fordham will open its season at home vs. New York Institute of Technology, then go on the road for back-to-back games against Big Ten schools Penn State and Maryland.
The Rams will then play four in a row at the Rose Hill Gym against Massachusetts Lowell, Maryland Eastern Shore, Siena and Monmouth before matchups against local rivals St. John's and Manhattan.
Home games against Howard and South Carolina State round out the nonconference schedule, which concludes Dec. 31.
Seven of those 11 games will be at Rose Hill, and the Rams will be considered the home team in the Dec. 22 game against Manhattan at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"I think it's a good schedule," head coach Tom Pecora told Bleacher Report on Monday, just a couple of hours after the schedule was made public. "It's very important for our fanbase and for us to play home games.
"When you look at the Atlantic 10 Conference and the top conferences in the country, the majority of the teams in those leagues, just about every team, will play a lion's share of their games at home early in the year. We're moving in that direction."
It will be imperative for the Rams to have success in the first month-and-a-half of the season before conference play begins in January. In 19 years in the A-10, Fordham has a 72-232 record against conference opponents and, this year, it'll play two extra games against A-10 teams.
"We've had good success at home in nonconference games over the years," Pecora said. "When you're in a conference like the Atlantic 10, you have to go into it on the plus side."
That's because the A-10 has never been better.
This will be Pecora's fifth year at Fordham. While his overall record is 34-85, the Rams have finished .500 or better against nonconference opponents in three of his first four years. (2012-13 was the exception, but that was also the year that the Rams played a disproportionate number of games on the road.) The A-10 games have been a different story.
"You should go light nonconference and play at home," Pecora said. "That's what a lot of teams in major conferences do because they know how competitive it's going to be once you get into conference play."
The fact that seven games will be played in the friendly confines of the Rose Hill Gym should help a young team that will be tested early and often. The games against Penn State and Maryland are the only nonconference games that will be played outside of New York City.
"With six new people, it's good to play home games," Pecora said. "It's just a matter of repetition for the young guys and [getting] them to understand the way you prepare and the level of preparation [at] the A-10 level. That's important for young players to understand."
Fordham's nonconference schedule isn't soft by any means. Playing at Penn State and Maryland so early in the year will be incredible challenges for a team with only four upperclassmen. On a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most challenging, Pecora said he'd put the strength of schedule at a six or seven.
"You can't get overly concerned about a great nonconference schedule unless you feel you're a bubble team," he said. "If you're a bubble team that could hold you back so you have to be more concerned about clicking it up a little bit. Obviously we're not in that position right now."
Pecora elaborated on the fine line between getting wins and playing against teams that will help prepare you for the brutal conference schedule, even if it's likely that those games will result in losses.
"It all depends [on] who you are," he said. "At Hofstra, when we were having great success, you could go play a real challenging nonconference schedule because you knew you were going to pick up wins in conference and you knew you had a veteran team that could win some of those games.
"We're trying to turn the corner here and have a winning record. Obviously the strength of our schedule is not as big of a concern. When you look at the teams that are trying to rebuild...we're not scheduling the same way as the Daytons and the Richmonds and the VCUs are scheduling.
"It really depends on where you are as a program, where you are within the food chain of the A-10 and then where you are as a mature team."
Despite all the roster changes, when it comes to the schedule, Fordham will be back in familiar territory.
"We're playing teams in the Big Ten and the Big East, and we're in the fifth-ranked conference in the country," Pecora said. "We're going to be playing Top 25 teams, Top 50 teams, last year nine Top 100 teams, during the course of our A-10 schedule."
Ultimately, Pecora says he's fine with the schedule.
"I'm comfortable with it," he said. "Coaches want it softer when you have a young team but we'll fight and grind through it."
Quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.
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