Tale of Two Halves For The Rams

By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor

Wednesday night playing on their home court, the Fordham Rams did what they do best — converting the 3-pointer — to propel them to a comeback 67-66 win over George Mason.

Just like that second half against UMass last Saturday, it was Fordham converting the big points in getting their third conference win.

So with seven games remaining before the A-10 Conference tournament — and Fordham trying to climb out of the bottom of the standings to get a better seeding — can 3-point explosions in the second half become a consistent weapon?

“They were determined and were in the second half,” Neubauer said about his team that overcame an early 17-point deficit. That determination is important at this juncture and if the Rams can use their weapon to perfection down this stretch they have that opportunity to get a higher seed in the A-10 Tournament in a few weeks.

This has resembled a Tale of Two Cities. One half, and in these last two home games, Fordham can’t convert the shot. The defense is off and so is shooting beyond that stripe but that determination, Neubauer and his team talk about shows that other tale of a team that can win in the second half.

Start with Ivan Raut and his 16 points. His back-to-back 3-pointers gave Fordham their first lead with six minutes remaining. That erased a George Mason run of 21 straight points in the first half when the Rams looked flat and possibly headed to their third straight loss to the Patriots.

Credit: Fordham Athletics

Then in that second half, Prokop Slanina went to work and two of his 3-point attempts came up big. Slanina finished with 17 points and with more playing time the junior forward from Czech Republic is quickly becoming an impact player for Fordham.

He won’t take all the credit but when Will Tavares and Joseph Chartouny both finish with 11 points, basically due to that bad first half, Slanina becomes the other weapon. Tavares has been the Rams leading scorer, Chartouny can be a terror beyond the arch, and with Fordham short handed because of injuries, Prokop will need more of these games down the stretch.

“Three-point play, it’s part of it,” said Neubauer. “If we compete the same way like the second half we can compete with every team in the A-10.”

Slanina to the coach and his team is called “The Center of our universe.” Neubauer said the 6ft-10 Slanina is as important as the sun. The rebounds were off, so the tale here again was Fordham converting 47 percent of their 3-point shots in the second half compared to 18 percent in the first,

Now if they can be more consistent with their big play for an entire game perhaps this will be an interesting finish before the conference tournament.

And again the question is, can this be sustained in a few days at Duquesne? The coach believes his team has that ability with another game in a few days as opposed to a gap in the schedule of not playing another one in a week.

If Fordham can continue that consistency it certainly can get interesting against A-10 schools ahead of them in the standings that include Saint Joe’s, Dayton, and Davidson. Next to the bottom of the pack is George Washington where the Rams visit later this month as one of two final opponents before the conference tournament.

Said Slanina, “Joe and Will, they didn’t have a good first half. They were determined. Once you get more players involved it makes it better for the whole team.” On this night he lived up to his name as that center.

But it comes down to that consistency and the Rams not making this a Tale of Two Halves. Slanina is their center of the universe at Rose Hill but they need Tavares and Chartouny, along with Raut to make this stretch interesting.

Neubauer said, “We continue to recruit shooters that spread the ball and shoot threes.”

Fordham has that type of team and have their universe in Slanina. Now if the first half is like the second down this stretch they can reach that universe of being in better position in a few weeks.

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

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