Fordham begins climb from A-10 basement with win over La Salle

Fordham Coach Kyle Neptune barking out orders in the second half of a December 30th game against La Salle. Charles Fox/Philadelphia Inquirer

In the entirety of the Jeff Neubauer era of Fordham University basketball, the Rams had zero .500 seasons in the Atlantic 10 and zero conference opening victories. While they’re likely still a decent way from .500, they’re also distancing themselves from the basement of the league in the first year of the Kyle Neptune era. Neptune, the former Villanova assistant, is from Brooklyn and understands the heartbeat of the city, and he’s got a big job on his plate. Bringing in Youngstown State transfer Darius Quisenberry and FIU transfer Antonio Daye to pair with Senior rebound machine Chuba Ohams Jr, the build is already showing signs.

There were road bumps along the way, and there will continue to be road bumps. This is not by any means a finished product, Fordham lost the annual Battle of the Bronx to Manhattan, and they also lost to a terrible Maryland Eastern Shore team at home. However, playing a close game with ACC opponent Miami, and defeating Akron by 20 points are great signs for the growth of this program. The Atlantic 10 is going to be a challenge, it’s a very strong league and Fordham has struggled recently, and this first conference game shows hope for the program.

While La Salle is not a formidable foe, the fact that Fordham is able to have games against teams that they’re better than in the Atlantic 10 is a step up. La Salle was without two important players, in Sherif Kennedy and Christian Ray, but Fordham will take any win that they can get.

Trailing by 11 with 16:27 to play in the game, the Rams had just a 12.2% chance of winning, but the shots began to fall. In the last 8:05 of the first half and the first 3:41 of the second half, Fordham had just one field goal, but the threes started falling in the second. The Rams shot 7–14 from distance in half number two, mainly led by Josh Colon-Navarro and Darius Quisenberry, it was a very strong second half for the Rams. On defense, Fordham suffocated La Salle’s shooting in the second stanza, as they shot just 0 for 9 from deep. That’s part of Fordham’s bread and butter this season, their excellent three-point defense, which ranks 58th in the country. The Rams used their hot shooting to propel them all the way back and won the game by a score of 69–61.

Quisenberry ended up leading the team with 19 points, while Colon-Navarro tied a career-high, finishing with 17 on a career-best 5 three-pointers. Chuba Ohams picked up his 8th double-double of the season, dropping 15 points and 11 rebounds. Ohams is third in college basketball in rebounds, with 147, behind only Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe and Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq. Ohams’ 8 double-doubles are tied for 5th in the country and double as many as any other A-10 player.

Fordham’s next game comes on Sunday against UMass at Rose Hill, but then the challenge of St. Bonaventure awaits them at the Reilly Center on Wednesday. All of the scheduled games are obviously subject to potential COVID postponements, but these games are on as scheduled for now.

After a long time in the A-10’s basement, this may finally be the team that helps Fordham climb out. Already halfway to last year’s A-10 win total, there are major signs of progress around the whole program, but it’s not a job done yet.

While plenty of change does occur overnight in college basketball, a rebuild to the scale of the Rams is going to take years, but Kyle Neptune is up for the challenge. Will Richardson is a class of 2022 4-star recruit according to Rivals.com who got offers from the SEC, Big Ten, Big East, and Pac-12, but decided to commit verbally to Fordham in October. Coach Neptune is building a program that people will want to commit to, and that’s the biggest key in college basketball. Fordham is a New York City based school, in a multi-bid league, with a historic home arena, this should be a much better program than it is, and that’s exactly what Kyle Neptune is striving to build. Last night’s win over La Salle is just another small step. Fordham’s rebuild isn’t something that is going to put them on a national stage, and that isn’t the goal of it anyway, as long as they can become somewhat relevant members of the Atlantic 10, this will be considered a success, and they seem well on their way to that over the course of the next few years.

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17 Year Old Sports Fan, NYC CBB Beat Writer. Aspiring sports broadcaster, analyst, and journalist. Host of PowerSports PowerHour

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Sam Federman

Sam Federman

17 Year Old Sports Fan, NYC CBB Beat Writer. Aspiring sports broadcaster, analyst, and journalist. Host of PowerSports PowerHour

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