The next two weeks the Atlantic 10 will hand out awards and a tournament championship trophy. We’ll debate who was snubbed and perhaps a team or two will express disappointment in their post-season fate. But here’s something that won’t be awarded and is not debatable: Jeff Neubauer will snap a streak of losing seasons for the Fordham Rams that lasted the past eight seasons.
With just two conference games to play and at least one conference tournament game, Neubauer is set to start his Fordham era off with at least a .500 record. That may not sound like cause for celebration until you consider what Fordham basketball has looked like for roughly the past decade.
The Rams sit at 15-12 on the season and while just 6-10 in conference play have won as many conference games as the last two seasons combined. Fordham hasn’t won six games in Atlantic 10 play since 2008 and their early-season nine-game winning streak was their longest streak since 1991. Not only were none of Neubauer’s players alive for that, odds are their parents probably hadn’t met yet either.
The former Eastern Kentucky head coach has wasted no time in taking Fordham from A-10 laughing stock to a team that is playing some of their best basketball and could be a dangerous low seed in this year’s conference tournament.
Led by consistent A-10 Freshman of the Week Joseph Chartouny and seniors Ryan Rhoomes and Mandell Thomas, the Rams have won three of their last four including a home win over last season’s regular season champ this past Saturday in Rose Hill. They led at Richmond before surrendering their lead within the final two minutes five games ago and took St. Bonaventure to overtime the game before that.
This is not the Fordham team we’ve become accustomed to.
The Rams will look for A-10 win No.7 at kenpom No.158 Duquesne Wednesday night, then finish with a home game against a banged up Rhode Island team (No.83) — nine of Fordham’s 10 A-10 losses were to kenpom top-100 teams.
A win over the Keaney blue Rams would give Fordham their first top-100 A-10 win in four years and likely the Rams best A-10 finish since ’07.
With a promising young roster and a promising new coach, Fordham’s 2015-16 season may be just a glimpse of a what’s to come. And for the first time in a long time, that glimpse may be of a team the A-10 can no longer write off as just another easy win on their upcoming conference schedule.