It’s Year 2 of the Jeff Neubauer Era at Fordham, and it seems to feature a lot of the same things that made the inaugural season successful: a hyper-aggressive defense that loves to create havoc in the half-court and wear teams down mentally to go with an offense that is much more patient, but likes to work inside out and shoot three-pointers when available.
The Rams rode those things to a 17-14 record, their first winning mark since 2006-07 and only the second in a quarter-century, dating back to when they were playing in the Patriot League (Fordham also made a postseason appearance since 1992, albeit in the CBI). They finished 8-10 in the Atlantic-10 after winning no more than four games in any of the previous five seasons.
AMHERST, Mass. – In an instant gratification society, baby steps are not much noticed and even less appreciated, even if they take place on national television.
Beating a UMass team that has had trouble getting out of its own way of late 78-72 in overtime before a small, mostly grumbling crowd at the Mullins Center will not send shockwaves through the land or turn Fordham into instant NCAA Tournament or even Atlantic 10 contenders.
WASHINGTON – Yes, Fordham was 9-2 and there were many positive signs under first-year coach Jeff Neubauer for a program that hasn’t won more than 10 games in a season since 2007-08, but putting the Rams’ resume under the proverbial microscope suggested they might be due for a bit of a comeuppance in their Atlantic 10 opener at George Washington Sunday night.
Consider that Fordham’s non-conference strength of schedule ranked 351st, dead last in Division I. All of its wins were at home, and none came against an opponent currently higher than No. 240 (St. John’s) in KenPom. The trip to the nation’s capital was the Rams’ first true road game since Nov. 14 and they weren’t exactly taking on a cupcake (not that there are many of those in the A-10, but even relatively).
Any potential scientific experiment needs a problem statement and Tuesday night at Rose Hill, it was pretty simple to concoct one: Is Fordham good?
Of course, then you need a hypothesis, and I went with a yes, although a little hesitantly. Fordham was indeed 6-1 and went to 7-1 with a hard-fought 89-84 overtime victory over city rival LIU Brooklyn (4-3). That alone is cause for celebration on campus. After all, the Rams only won seven games total in 2010-11 and 2012-13. They won just 10 each in Tom Pecora’s other three seasons, and he was fired after posted a 44-106 mark.
It’s not only likely, but probable that Jeff Neubauer will start his Fordham career 9-1 after beating two of the worst teams in Division I, Coppin St. and Maine (Fordham’s next two games), and then could match Pecora’s high for a campaign at the Barclays Center on Dec. 22 against Boston College, some two weeks before the former Eastern Kentucky coach even makes his Atlantic-10 debut.
Fordham’s Tom Pecora does not do tumultuous. His teams are never racked by transfers, or continually beset by suspensions. Since arriving at Fordham in 2010, Pecora always seems to have a tightest of handles on his Rams, so this offseason was an unusual one. Continue reading →