Twitter was abuzz today over Fordham Basketball. Those watching all over the country from the comfort of their own homes were in shock, not only because Fordham was putting up a fight against St. Bonaventure, but because they were on track to hit the over.
While appeasing bettors is never the reason why a team like the Fordham Rams walks out onto the court everyday, the 37 points they put up in the first half prove that their offense is really starting to click. So far, today’s first half performance against the Bonnies has been their best all season, the first this year in which they put up more than 20 points.
When looking at what worked best for the Rams, the biggest thing was ball movement. After the game, Head Coach Jeff Neubauer said that in terms of passing the ball, this is the best his team has ever been.
“Our best possessions came in the paint when Joel [Soriano] was able to finish,” Neubauer said. “He had a good game. 6-for-9 from the field, but he and Onyi [Eyisi] both passed it out of the post as well as they have in their careers. We were able to get good shots on the perimeter and made a bunch of good perimeter shots in the first half.”
Soriano finished the day with another double-double via 12 points and 10 rebounds, along with an assist and a steal, but fouled out once again, leaving his team at a bit of a size advantage late in the second half. While Soriano has frequently found himself in foul trouble several times this year, Neubauer hasn’t seen it as a problem, since many of those fouls come from scrappy plays in the post that could “be called either way every time.”
The biggest standout for Fordham offensively today was Yame Butler, who earned his first career start today after Josh Navarro was put on the bench due to an ankle injury. Singlehandedly scoring the Rams’ first six points of the game, Butler proved to Neubauer that he deserved his spot in the starting lineup.
“I wasn’t surprised when Yame made a few good plays early on in the game,” Neubauer said. “I’ve seen that coming in practice for months. He hasn’t show it in a game until today, but he is certainly going to be a very good player.”
Butler finished the day with 6 points, a rebound, and 2 assists before Navarro was checked back in for most of the game.
While the first half showed that the Rams could put up a fight, they quickly began to lose steam in the second, not connecting on the same types of shots that they made look easy in the first. After shooting 7-for-18 beyond the arc in the first, Fordham finished the second half 2-for-13. While the Bonnies did seem to improve on defense, Coach Neubauer deflected the blame on his own team, emphasizing their lack of consistency on open look shots.
Fordham’s shooting woes were most apparent during the last stretch of the game, where they missed their last 6 shots of the game, allowing the Bonnies to cruise to a 14-point lead and finish on top, 68-54.
It’s not like the Bonnies weren’t having a great offensive game either. Scoring 20 points in the first half alone, finishing with 26, Junior Guard Jaren Holmes was absolutely lights out from all over the floor. Backing up his shooting performance with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals, Coach Neubauer emphasized how dangerous a player like Holmes can be to an unsuspecting defense.
“He’s a great guard, and it starts with his jump shot,” Neubauer said. “He has what we call a gold shirt, meaning a guy you just can’t let get open in a catch and shoot situation. He’s way more of a shooter, but that’s really where it begins.”
The Rams’ next game will be at home on Sunday versus the UMass Minutemen. In their last meeting, UMass won their last meeting last February, 57-49.