Men’s Basketball Looks to Progress in Second Year Under Neubauer

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Men’s Basketball Looks to Progress in Second Year Under Neubauer

Nemanja Zarkovic was a key contributor off the bench last season. (Andrea Garcia/The Fordham Ram)

Nemanja Zarkovic was a key contributor off the bench last season. (Andrea Garcia/The Fordham Ram)

Nemanja Zarkovic was a key contributor off the bench last season. (Andrea Garcia/The Fordham Ram)

Nemanja Zarkovic was a key contributor off the bench last season. (Andrea Garcia/The Fordham Ram)

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By Tyler Freire 

Nemanja Zarkovic was a key contributor off the bench last season. (Andrea Garcia/The Fordham Ram)

Nemanja Zarkovic was a key contributor off the bench last season. (Andrea Garcia/The Fordham Ram)

After losing in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship to the University of Richmond by a score of 70-55, the Fordham men’s basketball team finished last season 17-14 overall with a 8-10 record in the Atlantic 10. This year, the Rams will look to take the next step.

Head coach Jeff Neubauer is entering his second year with the team, and he certainly has the team moving in the right direction. However, with the departure of seniors and leading scorers Ryan Rhoomes and Mandell Thomas, the Rams will have to adjust. Rhoomes was a double-double machine, while Thomas provided steady leadership even after suffering an ankle injury.

Rhoomes, the lone Ram to start every game in 2015-16, averaged 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, both team highs, while recording 11 double-doubles, including five in the final six games. He also led the team in field goal percentage (.649) and blocks (50). Furthermore, he led the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage and was second in the conference in rebounding. Across NCAA Division I, he was second and 39th, respectively, in those categories.

Rhoomes pulled down 907 career rebounds for Fordham, good for seventh in the school record books. In addition, his total of 139 career blocks ranks fifth.

Replacing that level of production will not be an easy task, but there are some positive signs for this team heading into the season. Reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year Joseph Chartouny will look to take the next step and assume a leadership role in this Rams offense. Chartouny became the fifth Ram to earn Rookie of the Year honors, joining Bevon Robin (1998), Bryant Dunston (2005), Chris Gaston (2010) and Eric Paschal (2015). He was named A-10 Rookie of the Week a school-record seven times last winter.

On the year, Chartouny averaged 11.0 points (third on the team), 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. He led the Atlantic 10 and was 21st in the NCAA in assists per game while also ranking second in the conference in steals per game (2.1) and fifth in assist/turnover ratio (2.3). His 148 assists for the season set a Fordham freshman record, while his 6.2 average led all NCAA Division I freshmen.

Another key element will be junior and returning starter Christian Sengfelder. The forward averaged 10.2 points (fourth on the team) and 5.2 rebounds per game (third) last year. He  connected on 46 three-pointers, second best among all Rams last year, and his three-point field goal percentage of .390 (46-118) was good enough for 15th  in the A-10.

Sengfelder and Chartouny should play major roles in the team’s success this season, which starts this Friday at 7 p.m. on the road against East Tennessee State University. Look for the role players on the team, such as Perris Hicks, Antwoine Anderson and Nemanja Zarkovic, to be “glue guys” that will help this team gel moving forward. The Rams will need to make some adjustments on the fly this year, but they have the depth to excel. Expect a drastic improvement from last year.