4. Fordham Rams
2005-06 Record: 16-16 (9-7 Atlantic 10)
Last season’s final ranking (NY Metro area poll): 8th
Head Coach: Dereck Whittenburg (4th year @ Fordham (35-54), 7th overall)
Leading Returnees: Points (Bryant Dunston-16.1 ppg); Rebounds (Dunston-7.6 rpg); Assists (Marcus Stout-2.8 apg)
Returning Starters: 4 (G Kevin Anderson (Jr. 6’3, 185), G Marcus Stout (Jr. 6’4, 195), F Michael Binns (Jr. 6’7, 225), F Bryant Dunston (Jr. 6’8, 233)
Key Loss: Jermaine Anderson
Before Dereck Whittenburg arrived on campus a few years ago, it would have been considered polite to describe the Fordham program as “down”. Well, things have changed. To predict an NCAA berth for this program may be a stretch at this time, but don’t be surprised if the Rams are one of the teams being talked about at the end of the season as a “bubble” team. Four starters return to the Bronx campus, including First Team All-Atlantic 10 forward Bryant Dunston. Despite being the marked man on the offensive end, Dunston led the team in both points and rebounds, and tallied nine double-doubles last season. Fellow forwards Michael Binns and Sebastian Greene are the first two options to assist Dunston on the glass. Also, look for sophomore Chris Bethel to contribute more in his first full season with the program.
In the backcourt, Fordham welcomes back guards Kevin Anderson and Marcus Stout, two solid players than can lead this team. Anderson, who will start at the point, is a floor general who focuses on running the offense and playing solid defense. Stout is Fordham’s best perimeter scoring option, but he can also run the point when Anderson needs a rest. Stout is a solid defender and led the Rams in steals last season. Backup roles in the backcourt will most likely be filled by incoming freshmen Brenton Butler and David Boykin, both of whom could see time at both guard spots. Classmate Dan Landisch will look to add some depth to the frontcourt.
Schedule at a Glance
After the home opener against Sacred Heart November 10th, Fordham heads south to Nashville for the South Regional of the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Rams will have their hands full in the opener when they take on SEC East champion Tennessee. In the second game of the regional, Belmont and UNC-Wilmington will face off. Three of the four teams in Nashville for those two days (November 13th & 14th) took part in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The champion of this bracket will head to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals the following week. Schools such as North Carolina, Gonzaga, Indiana and Notre Dame will also be taking part in the 16-team event.
While the home portion of the non-conference schedule is dominated by opponents from the Tri-State area (St. Francis (NY), Manhattan, Iona, Fairfield and Quinnipiac), the Rams will hit the road for a difficult four-game stretch that will cover most of December. In consecutive games, Fordham will visit Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas A&M and College of Charleston. Of these four schools, only College of Charleston did not participate in a postseason tournament last season.
The Atlantic 10 will be a much deeper conference this season than last, and conference play for Fordham begins with a two-game road swing through defending league champ George Washington and Richmond to ring in 2007. The home opener is against tournament champion Xavier January 11th, so in those three games we’ll find some things out about the Rams. The Rams will play every other team once, except for Rhode Island, Duquesne and St. Bonaventure, who they will play twice apiece. The season ends at home with Temple on March 3rd.
Interesting Note: Last season, Fordham went 4-8 in the months of November and December.
2005-06 Team Averages
+ Points per game: 67.8 - Points per game allowed: 67.4 - Scoring Margin: + 0.4
+ Rebounds per game: 33.8 - Opp. Rebounds per game: 35.2 - Rebounding Margin: - 1.4
+ Assists per game: 13.4 - Turnovers per game: 12.8 - Assist-to-Turnover Ratio: 1:1
+ Field Goal Percentage: 42.7% - FG Percentage Defense: 43.4%
+ 3-Point Percentage: 36.9% - 3-Point Percentage Def.: 34.4%
+ Free Throw Percentage: 68.6%
+ Longest winning streak: 4-twice (Richmond, @ Duquesne, @ St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island) February 1st-12th; (La Salle, @ Temple, Richmond, La Salle) March 1st-9th
+ Longest losing streak: 4-twice (St. Francis-NY, @ Siena, Iona, @ Holy Cross) November 26th-December 4th; (@ Xavier, Charlotte, @ St. Joseph’s, George Washington) February 15th-25th
+ Last March, Fordham recorded their first-ever wins in the Atlantic 10 Tournament in defeating Richmond and La Salle. They fell to Xavier in the tournament final by the final score of 70-59.