By Max Prinz
Jeff Neubauer was introduced as the next head coach of the Fordham men’s basketball coach on Tuesday. Athletic director Dave Roach and coach Neubauer spoke at a press conference to begin a new era of basketball at Fordham.
“This is certainly an exciting day for Fordham, Fordham athletics and, of course, Fordham basketball,” Roach said. “We began looking for a new coach on March 18 and, to be honest with you, I didn’t really sleep until this past Sunday.”
Neubauer, previously the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University for the past 10 years, replaces Tom Pecora. He brings a successful track record, a 188-134 in 10 seasons as a head coach, and a pedigree, he served as a top assistant to John Beilein at West Virginia, to the Bronx.
Upon his introduction, Neubauer also said how excited he was and how emotional the past few days had been. He admitted to shedding tears thinking about leaving his former players at EKU.
“It’s absolutely an honor to be standing here right now and to be the head coach at Fordham,” Neubauer said.
Roach said that Neubauer first came to Fordham on Sunday and spent about four hours on campus and then a couple hours at dinner.
“As soon as I met Jeff, I knew right away that we had the ideal person for Fordham,” Roach said.
Neubauer said being a head coach in New York, a city he called the greatest in the world, made the Fordham job attractive. He added that, more than anything else, the challenge of rebuilding a program made him take the job.
“The biggest reason I’m here is that I absolutely love challenges,” Neubauer said. “That is going to be the mantra of our program.”
“I’m taking over a program that has really struggled,” Neubauer added. “It needs new vibrancy. It needs new life. That’s what I’m doing here.”
Fordham’s new coach has not wasted any time. He held his first practice Monday morning to meet the team and even held individual workouts Monday night.
“I was blown away impressed with the group of student-athletes here,” Neubauer said.
Of the current Rams, all but one attended Tuesday’s press conference. Only Eric Paschall, who is considering transferring and was reportedly visiting Villanova, was absent.
Neubauer stressed the importance of getting to know his new team. Rather than head out and try to recruit new players, the new leader of the Rams said he wanted to work the current players first and help them improve right away.
“There is no question that the future of Fordham basketball is going to begin with these guys in this room,” Neubauer said.
Neubauer mentioned that he spent more time with Paschall than any of the other players.
“I was impressed with the group, but I was more impressed with Eric than anyone,” Neubauer said. “When you walk into that situation as a new coach, you don’t know what to expect, but Eric was really refreshing.”
Neubauer also spoke a little about his basketball philosophy. He wants his teams to shoot a lot of three-point shots and wants to pressure the opposing team with his half-court defense.
“This year, we made the eighth most threes in the country,” Neubauer said. “We were second in the country in steals only West Virginia was ahead of us. In the half court, we play more aggressively than any team in the country.”
Neubauer also shared his first impressions of the 90-year-old Rose Hill Gym.
“I think it’s a neat place, I really do,” Neubauer said. “I think it’s got character. People can talk about how it’s not the biggest gym in the A-10 and all that, but it’s enough. We can win in this building.”
Roach complimented the search firm contracted by the university, Parker Executive Search, on casting a wide net and making the process of finding Neubauer easier.
“I was able to see his credentials from Parker Executive Search and they jumped out at me,” Roach said. “I said ‘I want to see that guy.'”
“Right away, you got a great sense of his personality and his love for working with student-athletes,” Roach added.
Neubauer began and ended his remarks by thanking his wife, Karen.
“This is a great opportunity, not only for me, but for us,” Neubauer said. “I look forward to coaching here at Fordham University.”
Max Prinz is a Staff Writer for the Fordham Ram.