Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Jon Severe, Ryan Rhoomes Lead Fordham to Double-Digit Win Over St. John’s
NEW YORK — Jon Severe was never recruited by St. John’s.
After landing at Fordham, the former Christ the King star then struggled in his freshman season, shooting 1-for-21 in a blowout loss to the Johnnies at Madison Square Garden.
As a sophomore, Severe never event played against St. John’s after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons.
But Severe finally enjoyed some success against the Red Storm on Thursday night when he scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half as Fordham beat St. John’s 73-57 at Rose Hill Gym.
Under first-year coach Jeff Neubauer, Fordham (5-1) has now won five straight for the first time since the 2006-7 season.
“Jon is always intense, he plays hard,” said Fordham assistant Tony Chiles, who was at St. John’s under Steve Lavin when they opted not to recruit Severe. “He brings that New York toughness. He has a level of pride playing for this city, and I think all New York City kids that stay home and play for some of the schools here, they have the pride of playing in front of their home crowd.”
Chiles confided on why Lavin’s staff never recruited the former Christ the King star.
“We had all of our guards coming back,” Chiles said. “Being a New York guy, I’ve known Jon since he was little, and we just didn’t want to bring him into a situation where there really wasn’t a whole lot of playing time for him.”
Senior forward Ryan Rhoomes went for 26 points and 12 rebounds and Mandell Thomas added 14 points for the Rams.
“Our team did a very good job competing tonight,” Neubauer said. “We talk all the time about defensive mentality. We gave St. John’s 25 points in the first half. That’s what we’re talking about.”
Neubauer, the former head coach of Eastern Kentucky, has already seen some great things out of his team.
“Our mentality is about, ‘Can we improve? Can we get better?'” the Fordham coach said. “We ask these guys to be great teammates everyday. We ask them to improve every day. I think our team is getting better.”
Fordham’s win also ruined Kassoum Yakwe’s debut for St. John’s (4-3). Yakwe was recently cleared by the NCAA, and in his first game with the Red Storm he finished with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in 18 minutes.
“I thought he was great. I thought he was wonderful,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. “Great energy. For a young kid out there, first night out, he played a nice game. He’s going to be good, He’s going to be really good.”
Felix Balamou matched a career-high with 14 points and dished out a team-best five assists to pace St. John’s, while Christian Jones finished with 11 points
While he was excited about Yakwe’s play, Mullin pointed towards the youth of his team as a reason why the Red Storm have lost three out of the first seven games of the season.
“It’s going to be tough with young, inexperienced players going through a lot of these first-time experiences,” Mullin said. “We worked a lot on pressure defense the last few days and we handled it well in practice. Not tonight.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.