There was that momentum up at Rose Hill in early March because the Fordham men’s basketball team had a chance to make some noise in the Atlantic-10 Tournament after 17 wins, their most since 2006-2007. And a 14-5 record at home was the most in school history which set the foundation.
Now head coach Jeff Neubauer has a year under his belt after the transition from Eastern Kentucky. He, too has the experience of guiding a program back into the spotlight, and for the most part that first year was learning the system and building from more.
“We have to turn our high hopes into something tangible,” said Neubauer Monday afternoon up at Rose Hill on media day.
Those high hopes come after finishing conference play at 8-10, also the most since 2006-2007. Fordham also appeared in the 2016 CollegeInsiders.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) their first postseason appearance since 1992. So this season that momentum and building will continue in the conference.
Perhaps not ready for an NCAA Tournament bid in March, but the Rams came close to deserving an NIT bid last season and that can’t be ruled out for this core of a group. The year before, they went 10-21 overall and 4-14 in the conference so there is every reason to be optimistic and get the season underway.
They won their last four games, and all were in the conference and lost to Richmond in the opening round of the A-10 Tournament
Neubauer and his team are talking about that locker room chemistry. They lost Ryan Rhoomes and Ryan Canty to graduation who took their game overseas and off to a good start in their professional careers. So, Fordham loses two of their leading scorers and the game plan is expected to change.
Expect more running and shooting beyond the arch.
“Six back from last year who understand and know what we want to accomplish,” said Neubauer. “Six new guys competing and trying to understand what the heck is going on.”
They will learn and soon that Fordham is hungry and building off that momentum. The Rose Hill Gym, oldest field house in Division 1, was rocking last season. Those who have been around the program a long time saw the process of a new coach and building a foundation come together and quicker than expected.
Christian Sengfelder the 6-7 forward from Leverkusen, Germany will be instrumental in the scoring attack that Neubauer promises will be a part of the Fordham offense. The junior had a strong sophomore season as the fourth leading scorer and third leading rebounder on the team.
“With the experience I have, I am trying to get the new guys adjusted,” he said. “I will get the rebound and run.” And that is the plan for these Fordham Rams in getting the ball, moving up the court and go more for the three point shot than the two.
Neubauer said leadership will not be discriminated. In other words, that new core of freshmen and the sophomores will also be counted upon to contribute. And when you view this Fordham offense, and analyze why this foundation is building, contributions from this new and veteran core will be important.
“Rhoomes is hard to replace,” said Neubauer. “We have a very good core back who played a lot of minutes.” He was referring to those final four wins and how Rhoomes and the core returning helped the Rams to their 17 win campaign and success.
So what will be different? There is that returning core of players that include A-10 Rookie of the Year Joseph Chartouny who knows how to run up the court and shoot the ball. The newcomers are adapting during practice before the season opener a week from Friday at East Tennessee State that include Javontae Hawkins.
Neubauer has knowledge of Hawkins, as the two were briefly together at Eastern Kentucky. And these Rams will shoot the ball and decrease that point return of losing the ball on turnovers.
“Not going to the post losing players,” said Nebauer. “Certainly not throwing the ball in the post again. We don’t want turnovers and two point shots. Our goal is to count by three so we are going to shoot a lot of threes.”
And that means offense and a lot of points up at Rose Hill. If this chemistry is right, and if the offense goes as planned, Fordham will score those points and in conference play that will be needed.
More importantly, the building and foundation is in place. The goal is to advance in the A-10 Tournament and take it from there and they have been waiting patiently up at Rose Hill and this could be the year.
“Patience is a Virtue” could be assured in March if those three-point shots come early and often.
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