February 12, 2013
Scouting the Fordham Rams
Record: 6-18 Overall (0-12 Road), (2-7 Conference)
Key Wins: Duquesne, Rhode Island
Key Losses: Dayton (by 45), LaSalle (by 36)
#23 Mandell Thomas - 6'2 freshman PG: Primary ballhandler averages 8.3 points and plays setup role.
#1 Branden Frazier - 6'3 junior SG: Leading scorer, 15.2 points, and assist man for Fordham. Rams best offensive player doesn't shoot a great percentage, but takes a lot of jumpers and is a streaky, but dangerous, scorer.
#24 Bryan Smith - 6'3 sophomore SF: Averages 8.5 points per game, good shooter has taken 118 three's this season.
#2 Travion Leonard - 6'8 freshman PF: Averages 6.6 points and 4 rebounds as low post player.
#24 Ryan Canty - 6'9 sophomore C: Averages 6.2 points and is the leading active rebounder at 7.2 per game.
#34 Jermaine Meyers - 6'0 freshman PG: Sometimes starter averages 4 points as a role player in major minutes.
#5 Jeffery Short - 6'4 freshman SG: Leading bench scorer averages 4.9 points and likes to shoot the three pointer.
#30 Ryan Rhoomes - 6'8 freshman PF: Not a scorer but averages 5 rebounds off of the bench in just 18 minutes.
Note: Senior small forward Chris Gaston, last year's top player and a double figure scorer in his twelve games this year, is unlikely to play due to a reoccurring knee injury.
Xavier Defensive Keys
• Slow down Frazier: For Fordham to have any chance in this one they're going to have to get a big performance out of their top player, junior guard Branden Frazier. Expect Semaj Christon to start off on Frazier, although multiple players could guard him, including Landon Amos, in an attempt to tire the Rams top player. If Frazier can't turn out a memorable night then Xavier should be very comfortable on the defensive end of the floor, as Fordham doesn't have any other double figure scorers.
• Get crowd into it: The Rams are a young team who have yet to win a game on the road. They've struggled mightily in conference, probably because they only play one junior and no seniors with Gaston being injured. Fordham might have some young talent, but they're a ways away from being effective. Xavier's crowd can intimidate Fordham early, and make this one an easy Xavier win.
• Make them go inside: Fordham's only real chance to win this game would be to get hot from deep and try to outscore Xavier in a faster pace. The Rams only average 5.5 made three-pointers per game, but that number can be sporadic, as the team is streak in shooting 32% from deep. Inside the Rams have no real way of scoring. If Xavier guards the three-point line then it's going to be really tough for Fordham to score in their half-court sets.
Xavier Offensive Keys
• Keep it simple: Fordham is giving up over 76.6 points per game, which will rank them among the NCAA's worst. In addition, the Rams are being outscored by over 15 points per game. Xavier won't have to get too creative to manufacture baskets on the offensive end. Look for the Musketeers to take advantage of mismatches and to either isolate or play a two man pick and roll game to get easy shots.
• Move the ball: Xavier's ball movement has been inconsistent over Atlantic 10 play, causing their scoring and offensive efficiency to be even more inconsistent. Semaj Christon, Dee Davis and Brad Redford need to make sure everyone gets touches and gets involved, and that the ball swings quickly to avoid late shot clock situations. If Xavier can get the Rams defense moving then Justin Martin, Jeff Robinson, Isaiah Philmore and especially Travis Taylor should be able to find easy scoring opportunities in or near the paint.
Overall: There is no doubt that this is a must win for Xavier. If the Musketeers want to contend in the Atlantic 10 at the end they'll need help, but they'll also need to make statements against weak teams like Fordham, especially in the Cintas Center. With an opportunity to start a two game winning streak, it would be nice to see Xavier really come out with some passion and bust this one wide open early. If Frazier gets hot then Fordham could potentially give Xavier a game, but the Musketeers will likely win by double figures no matter what.
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