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Fordham Fails to Take Advantage of Limited UMass Roster, Drops One on the Road 60-54

With the Minutemen’s top two scorers out this Wednesday, the Fordham Rams were in prime position to let their defense do the work and earn their first win under Mike DePaoli. However, even without Tre Mitchell and Noah Fernandes 31 PPG out due to injuries, the Rams once again fell short. Let’s take a look at what went right for the Rams, and where they need to continue their development.

What Went Right for Fordham

While I’ll spend most of this section talking about their defense, I would like to praise Joel Soriano. Soriano has found himself in foul trouble all season, at many points racking up four before halftime. In his presser after losing to Duquesne, Coach DePaoli mentioned that while they prefer their current 4-guard rotation, foul trouble has been a problem. Today, Fordham’s defense was able to provide just enough pressure on the Minutemen without having to give up a lot of fouls, allowing big men like Soriano and Eyisi more freedom around the court.

Offensively, Josh Navarro seemed to be able to shake off his ankle injury from a few days ago and play as scrappy as he likes to. Navarro’s style of play can be very frustrating for a UMass team who was already lacking in paint presence without Mitchell. Navarro finished the day with 17 points off of 50% shooting, the highest scoring player on both teams.

What Went Wrong for Fordham

While Soriano’s lack of foul trouble gave Fordham more of a backbone today, their offensive improvements this season have been way too incremental to produce any real results. Like so many other close games this season, the Rams were unable to capitalize off of decent stops and sink shots. While shooting 45% from the field overall today, Fordham was 21% from beyond-the-arc.

Even without Tre Mitchell, UMass still threatened in the paint with forwards Mark Gasperini and Ronny Degray cleaning the glass on their own defensive end. Even when they couldn’t get the rebound, they proved a formidable presence under the hoop by pretty much bullying any Fordham guard that tried to make an inside drive. Back again as well was UMass’ full-court press, which Fordham had a lot of trouble with in their first meeting of the season. I know Chris Austin likes to play the 4-guard, but clearly it’s not working to the extent that Fordham would like it to work.

Fordham’s next game will be this Saturday against La Salle