Thursday, March 25, 2010
Pecora takes over at Fordham
NEW YORK -- Few basketball programs face the rebuilding Fordham does.
The Rams will try to turn things around with a new coach and a renewed focus on the city it calls home.
Tom Pecora, a New York native and the coach at Hofstra the past nine seasons, was introduced as Fordham's new coach Thursday, and he was upbeat despite inheriting a program that was 2-26 last season and has been 134-292 since joining the Atlantic 10 in 1995.
"I know we can win three games next season," Pecora said, showing the sense of humor and personality that he will need as he tries to turn around a program that has lost games on the court and fans and alumni off it.
"Everyone here has been so supportive. I believe this is a sleeping giant. It's kind of similar to the way Hofstra was when Jay and I took over. We were 297 out of 305 Division I schools then. I've been down this road before."
Pecora was Jay Wright's assistant at Hofstra for seven years, and he took over the program when Wright left for Villanova. Pecora went 155-126 at Hofstra, which included four 20-win seasons and three NIT appearances.
"The big thing for me was yesterday when I finally sat down and met the people who matter here and they were committed on all the levels I talked about," Pecora said. "With that said, you know you can be successful but they also understand it will be a process to this turnaround and it won't happen in one year."
Fordham fired Dereck Whittenburg on Dec. 3, five games into the season, his seventh at Fordham. Jared Grasso finished the season as the interim coach. Since 1991-92 Fordham has had one season with a winning record.
Pecora has had success recruiting New York area players at Hofstra, including reigning Colonial Athletic Association player of the year Charles Jenkins. Fordham announced in February that "significant" funds have been added to the basketball program, moving it from the lower third of the Atlantic 10 to the upper third.
"This is great," Fordham athletic director Frank McLaughlin said. "We knew from the first week of December by checking with the New York basketball community and not one bad thing was said about Tom that everybody was really positive. I can already tell by the reaction of people at Fordham that it will be a great relationship and it will be successful. I want to thank the New York basketball community for all of its input into hiring Tom Pecora."
Fordham lost point guard Jio Fontan, who averaged 15.3 points and 4.7 assists as a freshman, during last season when he transferred to Southern California. The best of the returning players from last season is forward Chris Gaston, the Atlantic 10's rookie of the year, who averaged 18.0 points and 11.4 rebounds.