By Joseph Staszewski
Ryan Rhoomes is exceeding his own expectations.
The Fordham University senior forward is one of the most efficient and productive big men in the country in the early season, after a solid junior campaign. The former Benjamin Cardozo star, who averaged 6.4 points and 8.6 rebounds a contest last year, got right to work with first-year head coach Jeff Neubauer and his staff once they took over in late March. He’s been a different player since.
“They forced me to be a better player,” said the 6-foot-8, 235-pound Rhoomes. “He wanted more out of me than I wanted for myself. I just had to perform.”
And so he has.
Rhoomes is averaging 15.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game over his first seven contests. He tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds in a win over borough rival Manhattan and followed that up with a career-high 26 points and 12 boards to help the Rams rout St. John’s. He is doing this while shooting an astonishing 75 percent from the field, which leads the nation.
“He’s taking the right shots,” Neubauer said. “He is getting to his spot on the floor and scoring the ball.”
The upswing has come thanks to a retooling of Rhoomes’ post game and a rebuilding of his confidence. Neubauer said Rhoomes is unselfish by nature and often passed to his teammates too much out of the post instead of asserting himself. He aggressively attacked the basket against St. John’s and yelled at the crowd in celebration of each big hoop.
“I just think I have been trying to score every time I get the ball,” Rhoomes said.
Rhoomes got to that point by being in the gym consistently for eight months. Neubauer said they worked on his patience when he catches the ball with his back to the basket. It’s not just the quickest shot or quickest pass any more, but the best shot or best play. He has become a better defender also. Rhoomes’ improvement has helped Fordham to its first six-game winning streak to open a season since 2000.
The team and personal success has Rhoomes thoroughly enjoying his senior season after three straight losing campaigns. The possibility of defeat doesn’t enter his mind any more, just doing whatever it takes to win.
“When I went out to play St. John’s, I didn’t even think about losing,” Rhoomes said. “My team has my back, my coach has my back. I just have a lot more confidence this year.”