By Carlos De Jesus IV
Energized by their ambitious backcourt, the Fordham Rams put on another glowing home display Thursday night in a 75-48 dismantling of the James Madison Tigers. Defending Rose Hill for the 10th time this season, the Rams continue to blossom through a brand of basketball bred by coach Jeff Neubauer over the last four years.
On either side of the ball James Madison simply looked overwhelmed, unable to cope with the constant pressure applied by the likes of Nick Honor and Ty Perry, the pair of whom are freshmen. “We’re growing, that’s the biggest thing” coach Jeff Neubauer said “that was easily our best defensive effort of the year.”
Signs of growth, specifically on defense, are imperative for a team starting two freshmen. Honor and Perry may be young, but the urgency and awareness they showcased Thursday night was not indicative of their years. Honor produced another spearheaded display, already leading the team in points on the season he did not disappoint. His team leading 13 points on the night not fully appreciating his importance, as he attracted defenders like flies to honey to open lanes for his team.
“With Nick using ball screens, others are contributing” Neubauer said “they are learning how to get their opportunities whenever Nick gets doubled”
Ty Perry, while struggling to get going offensively tonight going two of ten from the field, has evolved since the start of the season. His presence on defense would not be apparent looking at the score sheet, but it was felt throughout the night. Constantly involved, he did well to link with Honor and senior Antwon Portley, but showed off his engine on defense with unrelenting pressure.
“Ty is going to grow and grow” Neubauer said “only eleven games into his D 1 career, and despite all that is new to him he’s handling the challenges really well.”
With ten wins before the turn of the year and conference play on the horizon, a senior force at the heart of all this freshman energy is what keeps the momentum steady and focused. Antwon Portley has a work ethic that reverberates throughout the team, proven not only through his defense but through his passing as well, as his team leading 4 assist per game will attest.
“James Madison do a good job committing two guys forward to stop the ball handler” said coach Neubauer “But Antwon passed it very well out of those situations”
A trio with a smooth mix of freshman flare and senior focus could lift this Fordham team to new levels. But if you ask the man at the helm of this Bronx renaissance, he’ll tell you this year’s fortunes have truly been due to a team effort.
“We just haven’t had bodies these last two years” Coach Neubauer said in regards to roster depth “the fact that we have ten guys that are healthy and can be play is a big part of what’s going on.”
What’s going on is these Fordham Rams are now 9-1 at Rose Hill with A-10 conference play days away. If the tempo that Fordham produced tonight can be maintained throughout the season, no opponent will cherish a visit to their part of the Bronx.
Contact Carlos Twitter: @IVconsideration Instagram: @i.scarfface.v