The Fordham Rams men’s basketball team (2-14, 0-4) was in the spotlight during the past week. On Wednesday night, Fordham played its first game at the “Mecca” of basketball since 2002. The Dayton Flyers (13-3, 2-0) defeated the Rams, 74-58. On Saturday afternoon, Fordham played its first home game since December 8. The homecoming, televised by CBS College Sports Regional Network, was spoiled by Fordham’s loss to the Rhode Island Rams (14-2, 2-1), 85-67.
There was a similarity in how both games were played. The two teams battled competitively throughout the first half in each contest. Fordham’s opponents, after a lengthy scoring run, took a double digit lead that could not be overcome. The young Fordham squad was outclassed in experience and cohesiveness in each game. Fordham’s first year head coach Jared Grasso, the youngest NCAA Division I coach in the nation, replaced ousted former coach Derek Whittenburg on December 3. Grasso explained each loss with similar words. On Wed he said, “I’m proud of the effort, but we have to be 40 minutes good, not 25 or 30.” After Saturday’s game in the Bronx, Grasso opined, “They’re freshmen; they don’t know what it takes to play 40 minutes.”
Fordham trailed 16-7 at the 12:36 mark of the opening half of its rare game at MSG. An 18-7Saturday’s result at home was much the same scoring run by the Rams tied the game at 24 with 3:07 left in the half. The halftime score was a surprisingly close 31-26 in favor of Dayton. Fordham earned its only advantage of the contest, 36-35, at 17:37 in the second. Dayton them made its second half surge. A 17-3 Flyers scoring run brought the team a 52-39 lead with 12:32 remaining. Dayton reached a game-gh advantage of 21 (69-48) with 4: 34 to go in the contest.
The visitors took an early lead on Saturday, but the game was tied six times and the lead changed hands four times in the first half. Fordham final advantage of the game was the same score as its only lead on Wednesday, 36-35. It occurred with 1:36 remaining the first half. Rhode Island netted the final five points of the half to go ahead by a 40-36 score. After two more tied scores, the Rams of Rhode Island sco0red 16 unanswered points to go ahead 68-46. After a long 30-4 scoring the run, Rhode island earned its largest lead, 28 points, 76-48, The lead decreased in the final minutes, but the result was already decided.
Jim Baron, a four-time winner of the A-10 Coach of the Year Award, spoke of the reasons for his team’s victory, “I thought it was two different halves. [In the second half], I thought we did a much better job defending and sharing the ball. We played very aggressive and intense.” Grasso talked of his team’s youth and his faith in its future improvement, “Our freshmen play more minutes than any team in the country…We have to get tougher. We have to learn to fight through adversity. We’re getting better. We’re getting better than we were two weeks ago. I know we’re going to be good with these young guys.”