You would never know that these Fordham Rams had played the night before after taking the first of three straight games Friday night over FDU up at Rose Hill in the four-team Johnny Bach Classic. But it appears this three game test is going their way as they took command early Saturday afternoon and defeated Saint Peter’s 63-41.
The trifecta of games for the Rams concludes Sunday afternoon when they meet Lipscomb, the last of three other schools that have not opposed Fordham in this classic that does not crown a champion.
But the way things are going, and what concerns this Fordham team, is how they have come together as a group in their first four games. Fordham, 3-1, shot the ball with authority, converted all nine of their free throws, and shot 8-of-25 from three-point play range.
Defense, an emphasis for coach Jeff Neubauer also came together. The Rams stole the ball 15 times, and, he said “That is a big part of where we want to be.”
True, this was a another early season win that provided a test. And, yes, Saint Peter’s is not a formidable Atlantic-10 Conference opponent that plays in the MAAC Conference, however the Peacocks did score 90 points Friday night in their win over Lipscomb.
“We played a tough game last night came back after short rest against a very good team,” said Neubauer. “We held them to 41, they had 90 last night.”
And in a nutshell, 41 points holds more significance for the Rams because Neubauer has been emphasizing defense. Friday night, he said holding teams to 59 points or less would lead to wins and his team held the Peacocks to 20 points in the first half.
“It’s a formula that gives us a chance to win,” he said. “Bunch of guys today who played for each other. Relentless defensively and consistent.”
The Rams also had a balanced scoring attack. Sophomore Joseph Chartouny scored again in double figures with a game-high 14 points and had four of those steals. The sophomore, 2016 A-10 Conference rookie of the year. is that returning player who understands the expectations.
Neubauer said, “He has been through it,” the understanding of defense and how important this will be for the Rams to make headway this season in conference play.
“A lot of effort on defense this week,” said Chartouny. “Trying to guard the ball this week. What I want to improve on.”
Those steals and keeping teams under 59 points could very well lead to something special at Rose Hill. Realize of course there is a lot of season to come and should the Rams average that many steals per game, they will lead the country in that all important category that helps to win games.
Sunday afternoon is another step for these Rams and those three straight games will be more of a barometer.
“Tomorrow is going to be a great test,” said Neubauer about his team. “If we can do it tomorrow, three days in a row, it shows their courage and determination where they want to be.”
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