By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 5- The contest on Wednesday evening between the Fordham Rams (4-2) and the Furman Paladins (3-4) in the Bronx was only the second meeting between the two teams. In both games, at the NCAA Tournament in 1971 and in the Bronx this week, Fordham was victorious by 31 points. The win raised the 2013 mark of the Rams to 4-2, their most successful start since 2006.
Although Furman is not currently a national basketball power, one of its former players, Frank Selvy, accomplished a feat on court not yet reached by another men’s player in NCAA Division I basketball. Selvy in January, 1954, scored 100 points. The two-time All American was the first NBA draft choice at the end of the 1954 season. Selvy played a decade in the NBA, including 1958-59 with the New York Knicks.
Although none of the current Paladins are recognizable by fans in the Bronx, one name should be recognized. Aaron O’ Neill, the starting guard in all seven of his team’s contests this year, is the son of former New York Yankees highly popular right fielder and now one of their TV broadcasters, Paul O’Neill. The younger O’Neill joined the team as a walk-on in his freshman year, 2011-12. O’Neill earned a scholarship this year. He amassed his most minutes in a contest on Wednesday, 24, but did not score.
Fordham’s superiority in athleticism, height and shooting skill was apparent from the earliest seconds of the game. Bryan Smith, after missing the last two contests with an injury, scored the first basket of the evening before five seconds had passed. After gaining a 6-5 lead, the Rams scored 12 unanswered points to take a double digit advantage, 18-5, at 13:49 of the half.
Leading 30-15 mid-way through the first half, Fordham began a 10-2 scoring run that increased the lead to 40-17 with 5:02 left in the half. As the half-time buzzer sounded Fordham had more than doubled the point total of its opponent, 49-24.
The Rams, in the beginning of the second half, played in much the same fashion as they did throughout the first. The Rams scored 15 of the first 17 points to amass an overwhelming 64-26 lead with 13:07 remaining in the game.
A layup by senior Branden Frazier at 9:43 produced largest lead of the game for the Rams, 41 points (72-31). Fordham Coach Tom Pecora gave his reserves the opportunity to see game action during the one-sided contest; 13 Rams played.
Fordham controlled the boards, garnering 45 rebounds to 25 for Furman. The Rams shot 47 percent from the field while its defense held the Paladins to 34 percent and none successful from beyond the arc.
Three of Fordham’s starters are natives of Brooklyn and all three contributed to the win. While Smith did not again score after his game starting basket, he was crucial under the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds. Freshman Jon Severe, the leading scorer in the Atlantic-10, continued his hot hand with 5 for 8 from 3-point range and compiled a 23 point total. Frazier scored nine.
Two sophomores from upstate New York made important contributions. Mandell Thomas netted 19 points on 7 for 11 shooting from the floor. Ryan Rhoomes achieved a double-double, 15 points and 14 rebounds, in only 22 minutes on court.
Fordham makes its only appearance at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon, December 7, facing the St. John’s Red Storm in the second game of the Holiday Festival doubleheader.
Tags: Fordham, Rams, Basketball