On a schedule as tight Fordham’s, and with a team full of collegiate veterans, it’s important for Kyle Neptune to pick out the positives of Friday night’s 75-73 loss to the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore in preparation for their next game on Monday. Luckily for Neptune, there were some positives to take away from the Rams’ performance, most notably their stamina and ability to play hard for such a long game.
“We didn’t play our game, we weren’t as organized as we should have been offensively, we didn’t play hard enough,” Neptune admitted. “We weren’t in it, but we never gave up. We kept fighting and clawing to the end.”
When looking at what prevented Fordham from “playing their game,” the answer was inconsistency on both transition offense and on defense. Offensively, Fordham excelled when they took the time to draw up a play, move the ball around the arc, and find the open man. However, when it came to scoring in transition, Fordham frequently floundered. There were plenty of clutch moments, such as Antonio Daye’s game tying layup to force a second OT, but they were few and far between. When asked to describe how his team has developed in transition, Neptune considered Fordham “adequate.”
“It’s definitely something we want to get to,” Neptune said. “It’s something we definitely want to get to, but like everything else, we have to get much better.”
Defense was more of a possession-by-possession case for Fordham. On some possessions, Fordham looked as strong as ever; big hands preventing a lot of drives, forcing contested shots, and players like Chuba Ohams (3 blocks and a steal against the Hawks) locking down the paint. Other possessions, the Hawks found some pretty open cuts to the lane, or were just making some very tough shots. Once UMES found themselves in a hot streak, it was very hard for Fordham to pull them back out.
“I watched them shoot 29% [in the second half],” said Neptune of UMES. “I thought our defense was decent, especially in the second half, but unfortunately, you give a team like that confidence, I don’t think we started to play hard enough to get our guys going, and they kept getting stops.”
UMES would finish the day shooting 25-for-61 (41%) from the field, including 7-for-17 (41/2%) from 3-point range.
Despite the loss, there were plenty of highlights for Fordham. Darius Quisenberry was as electric as ever, with several shots that shook Rose Hill Gym. Antrell Charlton recorded 5 steals, and Chuba Ohams recorded his fourth consecutive double-double. Regardless of the result, the only lingering thought for Fordham was their next game against Akron this Monday.
“You win, you lose, that’s part of the game, Neptune said. “If we had won, we would still have had to go and get better, but we didn’t win. Hopefully we were a bit more motivated to be together next game.”