What do the Rams need to do to have a successful 2013-14 season?
Heading into last season, Tom Pecora said it’s time for his program to turn the corner and become a winning team. After what the Rams did in his first two seasons, who could blame him? Wins over top 25 Harvard, ACC opponent Georgia Tech, and then Big East foe St. John’s gave Fordham fans every reason to have high expectations.
Well, it didn’t work out. The Rams of 2012-2013 never could get off the ground, finishing 7-25 with just 3 Atlantic 10 victories to their credit. Some say their undoing was the injury to Chris Gaston, a leg problem that sidelined him for a quarter of the season. But the real problem was two fold. This squad was a young, freshman-laden team without enough leadership plus a brutal non-conference schedule that left Fordham without a home game until the end of November.
Now, Gaston is gone, and this year’s team boasts a bevy of talented guards. So what’s the key to making sure this is the year that Fordham turns the corner? There are many, but I’ve boiled it down to four.
- Brendan Frazier needs to be the senior leader on this team
Frazier was a little lost last year when he was called upon to be a junior leader. With Gaston out, Frazier tried to do too much at times with the basketball, and simply put, he wasn’t ready to put the team on his back. You can’t blame him. Chris Gaston was the face of this team for three years and without him, the burden was on Frazier and a team chock full of freshmen. This year, it’s a whole new look for the only senior on the squad, as he’s changed his number from “1” to “0”. He says there isn’t any particular reason for it, but I’ll bet it has a little something to do with his new role on this team as the spark-providing leader we all know he can be.
- Jon. Severe.
Listen folks, if any of you thought Jon Severe would be eased into the starting lineup you’re going to need to rethink things. There is no doubt that NYC’s 2012 Mr. Basketball will be a mainstay in the Fordham starting lineup from day one. He played 34 minutes in the exhibition game this past Friday against Northwood and let me tell you, he is one fearless basketball player. He could be seen on more than one occasion barreling into the paint towards the hoop with fearless abandon like a nose tackle trying to sack a quarterback…and it was music to Tom Pecora’s ears. This guy just knows how to create offensively and his defense isn’t too bad either.
- Ryan Canty needs to mature…and fast.
It’s no secret that Canty has freakish ability in the post. He led the team with four double-doubles last year and showed signs of breaking out. However, the 6-9 listed center hasn’t been able to stay on the floor consistently for the Rams. Canty fouled out eight times to lead the team last year, and the problem is that he is in foul trouble very early in games. The Rams are already extremely limited down low since 6-10 Manny Suarez is ineligible to play. Travion Leonard and Ryan Rhoomes can’t play 30 minutes every night. It’s time for Canty to step up and be a consistent threat in down low.
- Take advantage of the Non-Conference Schedule
The Rams played three non-conference games at the Rose Hill Gym last year, a number I still am trying to figure out. It was one of the toughest out-of-conference schedules in the nation. Tom Pecora told me it was mainly a result of some old contracts with teams that hadn’t been fulfilled yet, and it was basically something that couldn’t be avoided. Well this year, the Rams have seven non-conference home contests and I think they need to go at least 4-3 to be in a good spot heading into the A-10 portion of their schedule. The Rose Hill Gym was insane last year against Butler, and it nearly propelled the Rams to an improbable win. Pecora and others have said it best: no one who travels to the Rose Hill Gym is safe.
Those are my four keys to success for the Fordham men’s basketball team for 2013-2014.
While we’re at it, I’ll throw out a bold prediction for the season. No other team in the Atlantic 10 will boast a three guard combination as dangerous as Branden Frazier, Mandell Thomas, and Jon Severe. When those three are on the floor at the same time, watch out.