When talking about what’s new with this Fordham team compared to year’s past, a few specific qualities come to mind. A stronger emphasis on shooting, a faster pace, and most importantly, an explosion of energy from every Fordham player that takes the floor. In the opening minutes of this year’s Battle of the Bronx, Fordham’s energy was unmatched as they fed off of a tough Manhattan crowd, most notably from Chuba Ohams.
It took a long time for the Jaspers to find an answer for Ohams, which allowed the graduate forward to really hit the ground running and rack up some solid numbers early. At halftime, Ohams recorded 15 points and 9 rebounds, and despite a technical foul following a physical put-back dunk, Ohams was clearly a large, positive presence on the floor for the Rams.
On defense, Fordham had no problem locking down the Jaspers, closing off any potential lanes to the basket, and forcing plenty of turnovers. A skill that carries over from last year, Fordham guards such as Josh Colon-Navarro excel at luring their opponents into committing offensive fouls, which despite not producing a free throw opportunity, can disrupt an opposing game plan and frustrate your opponent. When asked about this skill, Coach Neptune attributed it more to the natural grittiness of his players than anything he or his coaching staff had drawn up.
“I think the guys just do a good job of that on their own,” Neptune said. “They’re a really gritty bunch. They just do it innately.”
While Ohams took command of the paint, Fordham guards such as Antonio Daye and Darius Quisenberry kept the ball moving and found decent shots. Daye headed into halftime with 10 points, while Quisenberry spent the entire first half on the floor.
After bringing the lead down to 4 just before halftime, it seemed like Manhattan entered the second half ready to pick apart Fordham’s defense. Down the stretch, the Jaspers continued to find their way under the hoop, taking advantage of the fact that Ohams had to spend a few minutes on the bench due to 4 personal fouls. After several missed tying or go-ahead buckets, the Jaspers closed out this game on a 14-7 run to clinch the 6-point victory. According to Coach Neptune, Manhattan’s final run was the result of their own toughness, as well as the coaching talent of Steve Masiello.
“They were down maybe 10 in the second half, and to their credit, they never gave up,” Neptune said. “They kept coming, kept coming, kept coming, and stole it at the end.”
Despite the loss, Neptune and his team were quick to talk about moving forward from this loss and growing as a team. With their next game against St. Thomas quickly approaching, there is no time to dwell on a tough loss, even against a tough local rival. Luckily, Chuba Ohams attributes this team’s veteran experience as to what will allow them to keep moving forward this season.
“Most of the guys are transfers, and seniors at that, so they’ve been there before,” Ohams said. “It’s just something where we can just say to each other “’on to the next game.'”
Following last night’s loss, the Rams will return home to host the St. Thomas Tommies.