By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor
Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer in the first half Wednesday night up at Rose Hill talk off the jacket and tie. It was more than a call from the official call that got him frustrated as his Rams were not shooting the ball well and had trouble defending against a La Salle team that need a conference win.
The Rams also need to win often in these last seven games to qualify for a spot in the A-10 conference tournament next month. Prokop Slanina was assessed with three fouls in the first half and that was not the good ripple effect off his season high 15-points in the Rams double OT win at St. Joe’s this past Saturday.
So those fouls that hindered Fordham Saturday put more pressure on the bench that got the Rams off to a bad start. More importantly Fordham was never in this game and had their lowest point total of the season in a 67-52 loss to the Explorers.
Was this a ripple effect that went in the other direction? Or was this signs of not recovering enough after a long day of basketball a few days ago in Philadelphia?
“Don’t think so,” responded Neubauer though he said it was a good analogy about the ripple. “Basketball is a season with a whole series of ripples form one game to one week. It keeps going. We coach in the fall all the way to the Spring. It’s a long, long season and part of the challenge of college basketball is going from one ripple to the next.”
The coach tried to analyze as he often does very well. However this game there was that expectation of momentum. Because his team overcame a huge deficit against St, Joe’s and won in double overtime, and what the coach describes as a resilient group, this indeed a bad ripple.
However, the challenge in these last seven games will indeed show what these Rams are all about. They need to defend better and they did not do that against a La Salle team that came in losing their last three games. And another ripple effect could be the consistency that the Rams have failed to show after a conference win in overtime.
Neubauer could be perplexed. He showed that frustration in the first half and went as much to say when asked, “ i don’t know. Our team has been resilient. This team has had losses and they keep bouncing back and found ways to win.”
Javontae Hawkins scored a team high 18 points and that was the only highlight and the Rams could not find a way to stop B.J. Johnson. The Explorers leading scorer scored 26 points, had four-three-pointers and eight rebounds. La Salle as a team shot 46.5 percent from the floor and 82 percent from the free throw line and at one point in the second half opened up a 25-point lead.
“Our guys understand things happen,” Neubauer said. “Goes back to the ripple. Every team goes through it. Offensively we were struggling and it affects guarding the ball.” Fordham (10-14. 4-7) shot 34 percent from the floor and could not convert the three-point play.
An impact of that ripple? Perhaps, again a bad one. Also two of the seven remaining games come against conference opponents they lead in the standings. The others, including a finale at La Salle on March 4th, are ahead and Fordham needs to pick up wins to avoid being shut out of the tournament and not being in the bottom four.
Saturday at George Mason will be another ripple effect. Good or bad for the Rams will be determined.
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