Week of Challenge for Fordham Men’s Basketball: Home Opener Win Is a Start

 

Photo Credit: Rich Mancuso.

Photo Credit: Rich Mancuso.

By Rich MancusoSports Editor

The schedule this week has four home games on the Fordham men’s basketball schedule and three straight at Rose Hill this weekend as part of a multi-team event. Baseball is accustomed to playing one team in consecutive days so end the comparison.

But the Rams are ready for the challenge.

And though they are not opposing teams in the Atlantic-10 Conference with FDU Friday night, Saint Peter’s and Lipscomb the following two days, Coach Jeff Neubauer looks at the challenge to prepare for three games they would have to win in March in the A-10 Conference Tournament.

That tournament is months away, and a season of challenges has to span out. Monday night up at Rose Hill, the home opener was a possible indicator of what to expect with a commanding 101-75 win over NYIT. The indicator is the Fordham offense can put some points on the board and they were able to fight a zone that put them in a first half struggle.

Neubauer does have a challenge though in the early going. His team is nursing some injuries and playing some key players off the bench, so perhaps the non conference competition coming to Rose Hill will provide more time getting back to full strength.

He said about the challenge, “It’s like we have one game left in the season. We have to have that typical one game approach.”

His team responded in their first home game and have three days to prepare for the unusual schedule. He has experienced  similar challenges before coming to Fordham as the coach at Eastern Kentucky.  

Javon Hawkins scored 18 points and Joseph Chartouny added 17 with a career high 14 assists. Four others scored in double figures against a Division II opponent.  Chartouny, who led all NCAA freshmen in assists last year shot 7-for-15 from the field and two three-pointers.

“We are pleased with the way we stole the ball and put pressure on them” said Chartouny. “The fact we have more open space on offense gives us a chance to make threes.”

The challenge is for these Rams to have this early test.   Friday night at East Tennessee State, Fordham lost their season opener 96-59. They had difficulty with that first challenge and a team that is looking to be more open with the shot, and running down the court certainly did that in the second half.

They also had 12 steals. Defense, according to Neubauer is a priority and he wants that to improve and this challenge of a week he hopes to see that.

“This is what we have to be,” said Neubauer about the defense. “We have to get double figure steals. When you steal 12 times and those turn into breakaway layups it makes up for many of our ills.”

And a win as this was, of course, will deter the negativity of a season opening loss.  The positives of overcoming a first half zone, getting the steals and converting them into points makes the upcoming challenge that much more positive for the Rams. They scored 59 points in the second half and stayed out of foul trouble.

It is one of those rare times on the college basketball schedule of playing back-to-back-to back games on your home court. The opportunity to cure the ills and make it better are important before getting into the competitive part of conference play.

“Look at how we are going to be successful, we have to be able to spread the court with five players and tonight we certainly did that,” said Neubauer.  A combined 25 assists and forcing eight turnovers from his team, as he said are “The first thing I look for in a boxscore.”

The challenge has started for Fordham.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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