While picking up a win against this year’s Saint Louis team would have been a tough feat for this developing Fordham Rams team, Coach Mike DePaoli still felt like there were some aspects where his teamed played under par.
“They were a top 25 team earlier this year, and I think they’ll be a Top 25 team again this year,” Coach DePaoli said regarding Saint Louis. “There were a lot of controllable aspects that we just let them take control of. 19 offensive rebounds was disappointing, but there were also some defensive breakdowns that we let them take advantage of.”
Rebounding seemed to be the biggest thorn in Fordham’s side, due mainly to them being outsized once again in their 4-guard lineup. Throughout the course of the game, Joel Soriano and Onyi Eyisi, who still rarely hit the court together, were simply outmatched by hungry board-grabbers like Hasahn French and Jordan Goodwin, who grabbed 11 and 10 boards respectively. Combining both ends of the court, the Billikens recorded a season-high 55 rebounds.
DePaoli had nothing but praise for this current SLU roster, whose experienced he outlined as their biggest strength.
“That’s how you win in college basketball; you get old,” DePaoli said. “With Goodwin, there’s not a shot that’s going up that he’s not trying to rebound. A lot of credit to their defense, which created a lot of opportunities for them to get those rebounds.”
In terms of how his own team played, DePaoli had several points of constructive criticism. While Fordham’s shot production has been more diverse these past two weeks, these last two games seem to feature a lot less confidence within the Rams. Shooting 27% from the field tonight, it seemed like the lack of intensity under the basket hampered the offense all around the floor.
“I told them at halftime that I liked some of the looks they were getting,” DePaoli said. “Unfortunately Joel and Onyi, they had a tough night around the rim. We got them the ball where we wanted to get it, and they weren’t able to capitalize, but we’ll get there. The big thing is keeping your confidence up right now, there’s going to be nights like this, so we’ve gotta keep our heads up right now.:
Looking forward, Fordham’s biggest focus is giving the entire team experience heading into the Atlantic 10 tournament. In terms of this development, Coach DePaoli emphasized that every minute on the court is a minute that his players will need to earn in practice, especially with up and coming freshmen like Yame Butler.
“We’re trying to give guys like Yame a lot of opportunities to get out there and learn,” DePaoli said. “In basketball, you learn by doing. As long as they earn it in practice, we have no problem putting them out there in a game.”
Shortening a planned 10-day break, Fordham will now head to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday for their second meeting of the season.