Championship basketball is back at Fordham, sort of. No, new coach Jeff Neubauer hasn’t found a miracle to turn around the struggling Rams just yet, but at least his home court will see a title this summer.
The Basketball Tournament, an open field, five on five $1 Million Dollar Winner take all event announced Friday that venerable 90 year old Rose Hill Gym will be the host site for their semi-finals and finals on August 1 and 2, with the four teams that play in from a field of 96 from across the country getting a chance to win hardwood gold in The Bronx. The event was launched as a $500,000 winner take all event last year, with a team of Notre Dame alumni taking the tile. This year the prize was doubled and ESPN stepped up as a partner, giving the event even more splash.
The entry for the field started April 1 and will go until June 1, when the teams from around the country who have both the talent level (only current NBA players and players with NCAA eligibility left will probably not compete) and the social presence (each team must also have a strong social following just to qualify) will find out who will get the chance. A series of regional events, some televised by ESPN, will then bring the best four teams to Rose Hill.
“We are excited to bring this open and democratic sports model to such an historic venue as Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym,” said Jonathan Mugar, Founder of The Basketball Tournament. ”The intimate arena will make for the perfect setting to watch these teams compete for the $1,000,000 winner take prize on August 1st and 2nd. While a new event, TBT represents a throwback to an older era. Rose Hill fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do.”
While the talent pool for the homesteading Rams of recent years probably won’t be strong enough to even produce an entry, several New York areas teams are expected to enter. One player with Fordham ties, guard Smush Parker (who spent one star-crossed year at Fordham during Bob Hill’s ill-fated run as coach) was on a team last year, and he is expected to again be in the field. Who knows, maybe Chris Mullin will find a team of ex-Johnnie’s to drop in. A team of Syracuse alumni were among the first in this year, and rumors persist that teams from Virginia, UConn, Butler and elsewhere will also pony up.