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Jeff Neubauer Looks to Return Fordham to Winning Attitude

Fordham men's basketball head coach, Jeff Neubauer. (Joel Auerbach/Associated Press)

Fordham men’s basketball head coach, Jeff Neubauer. (Joel Auerbach/Associated Press)


The Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Conference has a newcomer at coach who ran a successful program at Eastern Kentucky. Jeff Neubauer, after ten seasons which included five 20-win campaigns and five trips to postseason tournaments highlighted by a 2014 NCAA second round appearance against Kansas, was looking for a challenge. He found one up north in New York City by accepting the head coaching position with Fordham University.

But, he is under no assumptions as he is taking over a team that finished 10-21 last season and has not experienced a winning season since 2006-07. Neubauer got a sense of what it will take just walking around the Atlantic 10 Conference media day interacting with his competition on the sidelines.

“Just being around the coaches of the Atlantic 10, I can see how good they and their teams are going to be,” Neubauer admitted. “I need to temper my enthusiasm.”

But not for his players. Jeff has already stated from the beginning that the perception of the program will be determined from results on the court, even admitting that filling out 3,400 seat Rose Hill Gym is a break because anything larger he would not have a shot as he assesses his teams strengths and weaknesses.

“Fordham’s pre-season schedule is incredibly important,” Jeff stressed. “We have eleven non-conference games, ten in New York City and will develop momentum.”

To that end he has discovered some things already. He is not settled on a starting five yet but he recognizes that Jon Severe and Mandell Thomas will anchor the guard position and provide the defensive prowess he is looking for. “Jon has the athleticism to defend the ball on a high level. That’s so important in how we defend,” Neubauer pointed out. “Secondly, he is very good catch and shooter on three point plays. We’re going to try to put him in those situations often.”

Mandell is already in Jeff’s mind, one of the best players in the Atlantic 10. He knows that he is a go to guy.

“Defensively he has the opportunity to be an elite defender,” Neubauer stated. “Offensively, he has already saved our team in practice in so many possessions.” But it doesn’t stop there. He has three players, all from outside the U.S. that he is looking to make impacts. Joseph Chartouny, an elite level prospect in tbe Canadian AAU, is among the freshmen who are learning fast under Neubauer. “Joseph is going to help us a great deal.”

David Pekarek, from the Czech Republic, injured his hand and is out for the moment. Neubauer has plans for him. “He broke his hand but before that he was really impressive. He will help us this year.”

But the one he is really sold on is 6-8 Sophomore forward Chris Sengfelder, from Leverkusen, Germany. He averaged 11.7 points last season but thats not what caught Jeff’s eye. He is one of those big, athletic bodies that can stay with Atlantic 10 elite athletes.

“Chris is going to play as many minutes as he wants,” Neubauer exclaimed. “He is an absolute workhorse. He understands winning basketball. Not only is he a good offensive player, he scores in the post, gets fouled in the post, making threes, he understands concepts that are important to winning defense.”

Aggressive defense is what his Eastern Kentucky teams were known for. Neubauer understands that the personnel is not the same. But the idea still is.

“The great teams in this league really guard,” Jeff said. “We are certainly going to play a different style of basketball than Fordham has seen before. I talk about how aggressive half court or man to man defense we played. However in the next couple of days if we see we should play a whole game in the zone, then we’ll do that. It’s not about the style of play, find me the way to win.”

The trick is learning his new coaches and in turn impressing on them his method of doing things. He has already been inspired by the city life and it reflects the way he wants his team to play. “I always had this idea in my mind that it would be exciting to live in New York,” Jeff recalled. “I had no clue. I love New York City, being on the train going to Manhattan, the energy is incredible.”

But to draw future recruits, alot of them playing in the city now, he has to give them a reason. “That’s one of the reasons I took this job. I love challenges,” Neubauer shared. “Once we win and show people, our students, alumni, recruits, that Fordham can, this program is going to explode.”


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