Conference season is winding down and my end-of-season NIT projection is starting to look quite similar to some “if the season ended today” NCAA Tournament projections. I released a new bracket this morning and it’s probably time I took a moment to discuss some of the more controversial points. Continue reading “Discussing the NIT: Feb. 19, 2018”
The Rhode Island Rams found themselves in the national top 25 this week following a 15-3 start. Checking in at #24 in the Associated Press poll and #23 in the USA Today Coaches poll, Rhode Island continued its stellar start with a 78-58 victory at Fordham Wednesday night to improve to 8-0 in Atlantic 10 play. Continue reading “Nationally Ranked Rhode Island Rolls At Fordham”
Outlook: After a good first season for Jeff Neubauer at Fordham two seasons ago, the Rams finished under .500 for the ninth time in their last ten seasons last season and enter this season with 56 percent of their scoring gone from a year ago. Can a team mostly of juniors and seniors get things back on track or will a winning season be problematic to achieve in 2017-18? Continue reading “34 Teams in 34 Days: Fordham”
Selection Sunday is getting extremely close and the number of automatic bids to the NIT is extremely low at the moment. (Still a long way to go!) Continue reading “The NIT Bubble Now”
There are so many hurdles, both large and small, to climb to build a Division I college basketball program basically from scratch and another was on display at Rose Hill on Wednesday night for Fordham and Jeff Neubauer.
The Rams entered on one of their best Atlantic 10 stretches in a decade, having won four of seven, the last coming in double overtime at defending champion St. Joseph’s and Hawk Hill on Saturday. Dreams of finishing in the middle of the Atlantic 10 pack were dancing in their heads as they took the floor against wounded and struggling La Salle, who after a hot start to conference play had lost four of five and were without arguably its most influential player in point guard Pookie Powell.
Powell’s absence (he was 61st in turnover rate nationally before missing the last four games due to injury) seemed to play directly into the hands of a confident Fordham defense that is still second in the country in forcing turnovers.
On Jan. 11, Fordham went to Davidson (where the home team is 163-26 in the last 14 seasons) and came back to New York with one of the biggest surprises of the Atlantic 10, baffling the Wildcats and holding them to 0.86 points per possession in a 60-54 loss that was Davidson’s slowest game of the season (63 possessions).
But when Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer looked and saw there was a return match a little more than two weeks later, he knew beating Davidson a second time would be a tall order.
Davidson coach Bob McKillop’s resume speaks for itself: 526 career wins, 14 seasons with 20 wins, eight NCAA Tournament appearances, and widely regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college basketball. And so, with a second look at Neubauer’s unorthodox trapping and pressuring half-court defense, the Wildcats were ready.
Jeff Neubauer didn’t show any emotion as Antwoine Anderson capped a memorable night at Rose Hill by drilling a step-back jumper to beat VCU 69-67 in overtime. Not a fist pump, nothing.
Even after the game, he downplayed the significance of the victory, and perhaps rightfully so. After all, Fordham is still just 8-11 overall and 2-4 in the Atlantic-10 with 12 regular season games remaining. Losing most of those games could still lead to a record in line with many other past seasons for the program, which – as you probably already know – has not tasted much resembling success since moving to the Atlantic-10 two decades ago.
But on Wednesday night, to paraphrase Herb Brooks in Miracle, Fordham stayed with VCU and Fordham shut them down. And while they might not have been the greatest college basketball team in the world, they beat a program that has been to six consecutive NCAA Tournaments and a Final Four, and had a 54-19 record as a member of the A-10 before Wednesday. For Fordham, who posted its second winning record since 1992 (the last time they graced the NCAAs, as Patriot League champ) in 2015-16 and has just one winning conference record in the Atlantic-10 ever, it was a night for hope. Hope that someday they could, maybe not be among the conference’s elite, but at least compete, and someday have their name called on Selection Sunday.