Fordham Opens Kyle Neptune Chapter with Win Against Columbia

All of the questions over how this new Fordham team would look can be put to bed, as Kyle Neptune’s Rams showed the quick pace and three point shooting he promised to deliver on opening night against Columbia for a win that, while closer than it should have been, sets Fordham’s new era in motion on the right note.


Quisenberry’s first half energy matched that of the Rose Hill Gym, with his stellar three point shooting giving Fordham a lead it did not relinquish.

There have been questions from the very moment Kyle Neptune was hired as the Fordham Men’s Basketball head coach. As the summer evolved, with new faces arriving to campus by the day, the intrigue only continued to grow.

Answers have started to trickle in over time, as the staff and roster assembled itself. Neptune shared some of his ideal style of play in Fordham Athletics interviews or the Atlantic-10 Media Day. However, regardless of what people say or see, nothing really matters until the opening tip begins.

That came this past Tuesday, Nov. 9, against Columbia University, as the new-look Men’s Basketball took the floors off the heels of a very familiar win from Stephanie Gaitley and Fordham Women’s Basketball. They were greeted by a full, despite looking different, Rose Hill Gym.

And for 30 minutes, they gave that crowd much to cheer about, jumping out to a resounding lead behind 25 points from graduate transfer Darius Quisenberry and ultimately holding on in the end, 77–67, for a win that, while closer than it should have been, gives Fordham the first win of a new era.

The first new sight was the starting five, including returning players junior Kyle Rose and fellow graduate player Chuba Ohams, taking the floor for his time in two seasons. Joining them was sophomore Antrell Charlton, junior Antonio Daye Jr. and graduate Darius Quisenberry, the Youngstown State transfer.

While Fordham brought a largely unfamiliar roster together, the same could be said for Columbia. The Lions did not compete last year as the Ivy League forfeited all competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus these were two teams uniting for the first time.

All of the energy coming into this game could have gone one of two ways, either resulting in terrific production on both ends of the floor or recklessness and an early deficit. It proved to be the former, as Fordham scored a remarkable 49 points in the first half, a far cry from the team’s offensive struggles a season ago.

The excitement came from the opening whistle as Ohams marked his return to the floor with a massive jam inside. Much of the show went to Quisenberry, however, who poured in 20 points, including six threes. Fordham overall opened up a 22-point lead shooting 19–34 from the field, 11–22 from deep, leading from the very beginning.

That production came without a single free throw, certainly living up to the fast-paced, three-point shooting squad Neptune promised. They also showed poise on the defensive end, forcing eight turnovers and capitalizing with 15 points off of them. 

Much of the chemistry Neptune discussed seemed to be more than just lip service. Fordham was firing on all cylinders, showing collective poise with nine team assists and scoring at an impressive rate as a result. Columbia kept pace too, hitting 56% of their shots, simply taking nine less of them.

What would Fordham do when the shots began to fall? The second half showed some signs of that, as the Rams plummeted to shooting just 26.9% from the field, 1–10 from deep, while Columbia kept pace at 41.9% and 38.5%, respectively. All of a sudden, Fordham’s unstoppable train hit a screeching halt, as Columbia worked its way back in the game to hand the Rams a near scare toward the end of the 10 point victory.

However, most importantly, Fordham did its job in the end, holding off the Lions and preserving the victory. Quisenberry finished with 25 on the scoreboard. Daye, the former leading scorer at Florida International University added 12, despite shooting just 4–13 from the field, as he and Quisenberry look to be a backcourt that will form the bulk of the Fordham scoring.

Charlton added a very efficient 13 points on 5–7 shooting, 2–2 from behind the line, to round out the transfer production, as two more from sophomore Abdou Tsimbila made it 52 of the Rams’ 77 for the night. Ohams scored 13 of his own, also swallowing up 15 rebounds and getting to the line six times. He contributed two blocks and three assists to cap off the all-around performance, and Colon-Navarro dropped in five.

On paper, Quisenberry is undeniably the Rams’ most lethal scorer. However, the inconsistency in decision-making down the stretch makes one wonder who will hold a lion’s share of the ball in the final few minutes. Fordham suffered numerous shot clock violations in the final period, a casualty of their unselfishness. It may not have mattered in this game, but it will certainly give Fordham one element to consider going forward.

There are countless others that will cross Neptune’s mind, too. His rotation will certainly evolve as the season progresses to factor in players like freshman DJ Gordon, injured junior Jalen Cobb or freshman Pat Kelly. The team will next face its first road test, heading to Manhattan College for the annual Battle of the Bronx this Friday at 7 p.m.

Now the next question becomes, will that first victory translate into continued success? We may not know the answer yet, but the hardest part of any journey is getting started. And even though Neptune asserted the results do not matter most, it was important to start this new chapter with a win: a sign that there was something different in the air, a new buzz, energy and excitement the program has lacked in recent memory. And Tuesday night felt just like that.