Though the Fordham Rams caught fire in the non-conference portion of last season, winning 9 straight games before entering A-10 play, they were unable to compete with some of the better teams in the conference. The Rams showed pockets of promise throughout the 2015-16 season, also when they took down 4 straight opponents before entering the postseason. It’s those kind of stretches that have to have coach Neubauer excited about his 2016-17 team. Here are 5 reasons why Fordham could make the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Last season, Jeff Neubauer and the Fordham Rams didn’t get fully immersed in the recruiting world. As a first year coach being hired rather late, Neubauer was left with very little time to put together a recruiting class. Fordham lost a few recruits after previous head coach Tom Pecora was relieved of duty. Fordham was left with the few recruits that hadn’t left while Coach Neubauer was left scrambling to complete his inaugural recruiting class. Fortunately, Fordham doesn’t have to deal with this headache any longer.
This off season, Coach Neubauer and his staff have had the time to fully assemble a recruiting class. Fordham’s recruiting class is looking to be very strong as they have received commitment from two highly touted freshmen.
Chuba Ohams was the first to commit to Fordham. The 6-7 Small Forward chose Fordham over UConn, Georgia Tech, UNLV, Providence, Rutgers, and South Carolina. His decision to stay close to home is certainly one that benefit the Rams in the future.
Papa N’Diaye, a 6-9 Center out of North Carolina, was the second big piece to commit to Fordham. Literally. Papa is going to be a HUGE part of the Rams frontcourt in the coming years. Papa, who received offers from Florida State and Oklahoma, will be an immediate impact player. Think Ryan Rhoomes. Jeff Neubauer evolved Rhoomes from a defensive minded player to an offensive force in just one year. I can only image how Papa will develop over the course of four years.
If the freshmen weren’t enough, Fordham’s staff received several great transfers. JUCO studs including Will Tavares and Perris Hicks will be sure to make an impact in the future. Eligible immediately, the junior guards will replace Mandell Thomas and Jon Severe. Furthermore, the Rams landed grad transfer Javontae Hawkins, who previously averaged 17 PPG last season at Eastern Kentucky. Look for the transfers to play a huge role for the Rams.
3. Jeff Neubauer
Despite Jeff Neubauer’s recent personal life matters, his transition to Fordham has been nearly perfect. He took a weak roster and turned the Rams into a middle-of-the-pack A-10 team. The Rams have made great strides in just one season under Neubauer. The Rams migrated north in the A-10 standings and no longer are viewed as the bottom feeders of the league. The Rams competed in a postseason game for the first time since 1992. The Rams beat several strong teams including St. John’s, Davidson, URI, etc. The Rams went from 10-21 last season to 17-14 this season. Their list of accomplishments goes on and on, but the common denominator is Jeff Neubauer. It’s hard to see this team getting anything but better as Neubauer gets more comfortable with his new position. Considering what he’s allowed the Rams to accomplish in one short year, it’s almost certain that the success will continue.
4. Joseph Chartouny
Quietly, Fordham has produced the last two A-10 Rookie of the Year’s. While Eric Paschall left when Tom Pecora did, it’s still an impressive feat. As we saw last year, Joe Chartouny is the X-factor of this team. He’s a jack of all trades. He can shoot, pass, defend, rebound, etc. Oh, and I should probably mention that he’s the size of a forward. Chartouny shocked the A-10 last year with his great performance. His role should only continue to grow as he starts his sophomore year.
5. Ali Ton
The A-10 under the radar move of the year might be adding Ali Ton to Fordham’s coaching staff. If you’re a big college basketball fan you probably know of 7-6 UC Irvine Center, Mamadou N’Diaye. Previously at UC Irvine, Ton was responsible for recruiting 7-6 Mamadou N’Diaye.
Because of recruits like Mamadou, Ton is widely regarded as the best international recruiter in all of college basketball. In the past, Fordham has had great success with international players. Joseph Chartouny, Nemanja Zarkovic, Christian Sengfelder, etc. Look for the Rams and Ali Ton to build on these successes moving forward. Hopefully he can bring some big pieces like Mamadou to the Bronx.
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