Wednesday evening The Rose Hill Gym on the campus of Fordham University was not at capacity and that had nothing to do with the way the Rams have been winning games on the court. There is a semester break and a majority of the student body are off campus and out of town.
But the Rams continue to conduct their business and soon there will be capacity crowds. Winning has quickly changed the complexion of what has been a losing program and quietly,Fordham, under new head coach Jeff Neubauer, has the best winning mark among college basketball teams in the New York area,
Their latest win, 66-61, over La Salle in the Bronx also gives Fordham a 10-game winning streak at home, the longest since the Rams won 12 straight home games in 1990-1991. And their win improved their season mark to 10-3, and 1-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
And it has been a long time since a Fordham team has got off to such a good start. Though in the infancy stages of conference play, there is talk of something special going on after their first conference win of the season.
This past Sunday, Fordham almost pulled off their first win in the conference and overcame a 15-point deficit in losing 69-63 at George Washington.
“If you are asking me, I hope so,” Neubauer responded when asked if something special was brewing at Rose Hill. “That’s what we talk to our team about, We want to be the most improved team in the country.We are on our way.”
And, yes, Fordham right now has to be considered a serious part of the A-10 Conference after being idle over the years. They are playing with momentum, consistency, and with a defense that has held opponents to less than 60 points in six of their past 12 games.
On being special, Neubauer added, “We are in that conversation. We hope to do some special things.”
La Salle, also the alma mater of the coach, split two games with the Rams last year. Neubauer said he did not treat this game differently against his former school and the two teams will meet again in one of the final four games of the season before the start of the A-10 Tournament that begins on March 9th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
For now, Fordham continues to excel on all ends of the court though this game may not have been one the best on offense. Ryan Rhoomes scored 25 points and had 18 rebounds with four blocked shots. The senior forward was a point shy of his career high that he scored against St. John’s in early December.
The win was secured after Antwoine Anderson converted 1 of 2 free throws in the final seconds with 11.9 left to play. On this night, Neubauer said about Rhoomes, “He carried us.”
“I have never been undefeated at home,” commented Rhoomes who had a successful high school career at Cardozo in Queens, a school that is accustomed to winning games before the home fans. Though the crowd was slim this night, Rhoomes and the Rams heard them and soon the friendly confines of the Rose Hill Gym will be heard from one end of the Bronx to the other.
If the Rams keep winning, and from every expectation there does not appear to be a letdown, the oldest field house in the NCAA may need to get some reinforcements. It was that way up at Rose Hill over the years when Fordham won numerous conference titles in the MAAC Conference, and during the 1970-71 season when the Digger Phelps coached team went 26-3 and was ranked ninth in the nation.
“It’s great for our team, our organization,” said Rhoomes. “We hope to keep it going and see what we do in the A-10 Tournament.”
Yes, the Rams are looking ahead but the thick of conference play is yet to come. However, if they remain injury free and stay consistent on defense, along with getting better on offense, something special will continue to be the talk.
Soon the students will be back on campus, and the loyal alumni are always there. The next step will be Sunday afternoon when the always tough Richmond Spiders visit Rose Hill in a conference game.
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