When you exceed expectations to finish 10th in the league, and you then lose 3 of your top 4 scorers as graduates or transfers, your program’s going to have a lot of questions. That is Fordham. The Rams were the “shocker” team last season, especially when they gutted out a 53-43 win over Rhode Island. Defense was king, but offensive production was nowhere to be found under Neubauer. A new season with new faces brings variety to Rose Hill Gym; that said, I’m not sure it will be enough to pick the Rams out of 13th or 14th place.
1. On offense, it’s Joseph Chartouny… and who else?
Like I mentioned above, losing Hawkins, Sengfelder, and Anderson are all stings. Those 3 were big reasons Fordham found success against Rhode Island and VCU last season. Joseph Chartouny is the Rams’ leading returning scorer, averaging 12.1 PPG last season; then, it’s Prokop Slanina at 5.9. That’s a big gap.
In attempt to answer this question, I think JUCO transfer Tre Evans will exceed expectations. Also JUCO guys, Prokop Slanina, Will Tavares, and Perris Hicks should all pick up some slack for Fordham. Perhaps my favorite “sleeper,” if you will, is Cavit Havsa who averaged 8 points per game in the Rams’ final 8 contests last year. Basically, it’s going to take a team effort to fill the gaps left by past Rams; everyone will need to step up and add to the equation, and that means Chartouny as well. Expect his junior year numbers to absolutely skyrocket.
2. Can Fordham play the role of “spoiler” once more?
If we’re being honest, a lot of Fordham’s excitement last year came from its ability to play “spoiler” in the Atlantic 10. Well that’s certainly not good for the league (the Rams may have cost Rhode Island an at large bid), it’s certainly fun for the fanbase, and it also gives Fordham increasing confidence. If the Rams ever want to ascend to the top half of the A-10 standings, they’ll have to beat teams like Rhode Island and VCU. Last year’s roster talent proved that it was able to accomplish that; it’s a movement in the right direction.
While no one expects Fordham to win the league this year, some probably have the Rams ranked higher than others. Their defense can be a problem for A-10 teams, and as a result, you can wind up with a nasty L while only putting up 45 points. That’s Fordham’s bread and butter. For Fordham fans, it’s gotta be fun to see the Rams win big games now, but the goal is reoccurrence. You don’t want Fordham to continue being the “spoiler.”
3. What’s a guy gotta do to get some defensive recognition?
Joseph Chartouny was unjustly left off the Atlantic 10’s 2016-17 All-Defensive team after leading the entire nation in steal percentage. Luckily, he was named to the 2017-18 preseason team, but it’s crazy to see the lack of recognition at the end of last season. Bottom line: Fordham’s best player is going to be, well, the best on both ends of the floor. His ability to make an impact on defense will certainly carry over to offense. If Fordham’s going to play the “grind it out” style where neither team reaches 50, it better hone in when the opponent’s got the ball.