The Fordham Rams men’s basketball team isn’t living and dying on offense. The squad is simply dying on a regular basis.
BRONX, NY—Sr. Bonaventure hosted the Fordham Rams earlier this month. The first of two A-10 Conference meetings went to the Bonnies 64-44, then, the offense was an issue for the Rams.
Wednesday night, up at Rose Hill, it was lack of offense again for the Rams in their 62-55 loss in overtime. The issue here, as the A-10 Conference schedule gets deeper into February, is the Rams’ inability to get that offense going.
Their prior game, at Saint Louis, the Rams scored a season-low 39 points in a conference loss.
It’s not the defense. Fordham leads the conference in scoring defense and is ranked 15th in the NCAA, but in this high scoring A-10 conference, there is that need to score and do it often,
“Our biggest offensive challenge is we cannot make two-point baskets,” coach Jeff Neubauer said.
The Rams scored 22 points in the first half, 19-for-58 from the floor. Overall, 12-for-33 when shooting for three. Last year, scoring from the outside was not an issue.
This year, In the paint or from the outside, and very few baskets are converted.
Saturday could get ugly. Fordham travels to Dayton, the eighth-ranked team in the nation. The Flyers score and lead the conference with a commanding lead at the top of the standings, 18-3 overall.
Chances are the Rams will lose that game also. They compete, but their inability to convert in the paint has put them in a position to once again finish next to last in the conference.
If it wasn’t for a complete overhaul at St. Joe’s, a coaching change and numerous transfers, Fordham could be sitting at the bottom of the conference.
If they score points, to go along with that respective ability to keep teams from scoring, we are talking about an interesting and final month prior to tournament time at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn that begins March 12.
Though, they do miss a catalyst. In their season-opening win over St. Francis, junior Chuba Ohams scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds. He had another double-double that followed against Maryland Eastern Shore.
The leading scorer for the Rams sustained a season-ending knee injury earlier this month prior to a conference game with LaSalle. That was a significant blow and the Rams have been trying to get around that.
But… they compete and leave no room for excuses. The coach and his team are aware that they have to score and often before it gets any uglier.
Fordham dropped their seventh game in their last eight. Their overall mark is 7-13 and the Rams stand next to last in the Atlantic 10 Conference at 1-7.
The thing is… the Bonnies got the ball and made their shots, outscoring Fordham 9-2 in the extra period. Dominick Welch put forth a career-high 22 points and made three free throws that got the Bonnies a two-game sweep against the Rams this season.
Furthermore, despite those offensive struggles, the Rams in three prior games saw their freshmen and sophomores account for 82.6% of their scoring, 138 of 167 points.
So, you would think that something has to change.
Neubauer said about this loss, “The offensive rebounds we gave up, hard to win, 12 rebounds in 25 minutes.”
Antwon Portley, limited in his second game back from injury, forced overtime with a running one-handed shot with 2.8 seconds left. He could take over and get this offense going.
“He made clutch shots; that’s who he is,” said Neubauer.
Portley also had a key 3-pointer down the stretch that tied the game at 53.
Neubauer was asked about the Dayton game that awaits and fully admits the challenge ahead.
“Good challenge as a team and as a coach,” he said. “My feeling is that tonight is that game we’ve played really talking about our defense. Our defense had gone to an amazing level.”
Now, if only the offense can get to that level.
Dayton indeed will be a challenge, and so will the remaining part of this schedule if the Rams can’t find a way to make those shots count.