Coach Jeff Neubauer said after three games his Fordham Rams are still adjusting. Perhaps scheduling three straight games at home was good strategy and after a 68-55 win over FDU Friday night up at Rose Hill his team adapted well.
This was the first of three games of the Johnny Bach Classic and not a tournament where the winner goes home with a trophy.
So the Rams, who won their home opener Monday night with a commanding win over NYIT, have a quick turn around and host Saint Peter’s Saturday afternoon. The finale of three consecutive games concludes Sunday afternoon against Lipscomb of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
No issue for the coach with the schedule. It was also an advantage for his team to play the first game Friday night at 6PM before Saint Peter’s and Lipscomb took the court. The adjustments in the first game were complete and now, Neubauer had an opportunity to review the next two opponents.
And doing that advanced scouting from the comforts of the Rose Hill Gym, he will take that. Newbauer is playing this like a tournament and going game-by-game.
“One game left tomorrow, three o’clock.” he said. “There is so much to learn about a college basketball team this time of year. We been learning the last weeks of practice, scrimmages and first few games and making adjustments.”
He added, “We continue to learn but these games are the most telling.”
Perhaps the learning is ongoing, or maybe it’s not. Fordham is hoping to keep their opponents under 59 points. They did that last season seven times and Neubauer saw the defense come together after limiting FDU to 30-points in the first half.
“Felt good about our mentality,” he said. “Last night got a text from Javontae, that Valpariso held their opponent to fewer that 59 points,” That was Javontae Hawkins, the transfer from Eastern Kentucky who reunited with Neubauer as a transfer student.
Hawkins, who has averaged 18 points in the first two games, converted all 11 of his free throws and scored 16 points. He defended, rebounded and did everything right and it appears Hawkins is in that early comfort zone and made the adjustment.
“That is something we do as a team making consecutive free throws,” said Hawkins. “Something I do is attack and make the shot.”
Christian Sengfelder added 18 points for the Rams including four 3-pointers for the junior. That indeed showed how the Neubauer philosophy is quickly adapting, as the defense continues to work for improvement in the early going.
Joseph Chartouny and Antwoine Anderson added 11 points for Fordham in their balanced attack that opened up the game in the second half.
“We had a lot of good looks and will make more as the season progresses,” said Neubauer. “When we guard like that we can still win. It’s about our guarding and defense. Tonight we did not shoot the ball right and we still won in double figures.”
And this three games in a row test, well that according to the coach will help his team improve their flow. More importantly, the Rams may know more about themselves after their game Sunday afternoon against Lipscomb that concludes this classic.
“When we hold teams to 55 points we have a good chance to win,” said Neubauer.
But that real test comes for these Rams when they continue this trifecta of games. Maybe it will be known by then who they are and where they could be headed in the next few months.
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