Mancuso: Despite Exit From A-10, Fordham Deserves NIT With 17 Wins

(Fordham’s Ryan Rhoomes, Joseph Chartouny, and Head Coach Jeff Neubauer postgame on Thuesday – Photo by Jason Schott – NY Sports Day) 
They did not exit off the Barclays Center court with their heads down, and there was no reason why the Fordham men’s basketball team should feel that their season is over after a first round loss to 9th seed Richmond Thursday afternoon in the Atlantic 10 Championship.

It’s a simple equation:  With 17 wins and guided by first year coach Jeff Neubauer, Fordham is deserving of a post season NIT bid or accepting an invitation from two of the other tournaments that are not as significant as the NIT. One of those, the College Invitational is also ideal, but the NIT, which is not as prestigious but with longevity over the NCAA Tournament, would be just as good.

Now it is a waiting game for the Rams, but certainly a 17-win season for a New York City college basketball teams does deserve to continue and build on to next year.

“I think it would be a good step for Fordham at this point, and that’s something that will play out here over the next few days,” Neubauer said about his 8th seed Rams that gave the Spiders a game in a 70-55 loss.   “

“Our team is giving great effort, and they’ve really played together and gotten better. There’s certain times I think when you have a team that has a winning record that you’re not interested in continuing to play, but our group is so close and they’re so excited about basketball that I do think it would be a good idea.”

And with exception of Seton Hall, playing across the river at Madison Square Garden in the Big East Tournament, and perhaps Iona, winners of the MAAC title that gets an automatic bid to the NCAA “March Madness’ Big Dance, Fordham would be a reputable and good pick to host at NIT game at the legendary Rose Hill Gymnasium next week.

However, that is up to the committee to decide and for years Fordham always had friends on that panel. Times and things have changed and politics here gets thrown out the window.

What is important to consider is that Fordham with a 17-13 record, and with New York City college basketball roots that go a long way, deserves to be one of those 32 teams that goes on and represents New York in the NIT Tournament.

Neubauer may not have that New York persona, but who cares. In less than a year, he has turned around a struggling college basketball program that won 10-games last year and saw another coaching change. The team responded, and the old gym up at Rose Hill  was filled to the rafters numerous times that was so reminiscent of those Fordham teams that used to get an NCAA bid or represented New York many times in the NIT Tournament.

“Obviously I’m from New York. It’s fun to play here in New York, but it’s even better to win,” said the senior Ryan Rhoomes who turned around his game under Neubauer. He became one of the top players in the conference and wants the season to continue even though it’s not going to the NCAA Tournament.

“If you get a win, it obviously feels a little better,” Rhoomes said, “but it’s fun playing in front of my home,” said the resident of South Jamaica in Queens. He finished with another double-double with 18 points and 18 rebounds.

There was emotion, and every reason to say what it means to continue. And the Fordham University community of alumni and fans deserve to see the season continue. The right step is a bid to that prestigious NIT Tournament where numerous banners hang from the rafters up at Rose Hill that represent the Fordham history and the NIT.

Said Rhoomes: “Wish I had three more years like this. But I give all the praise and all the credit to Coach Neubauer, Coach Crawford (assistant), and my teammates for helping me making me the player that I am right now.”

And for the Fordham Rams as a whole that is deserving of another game or more. And hosting an NIT game up at Rose Hill would be in the best interest for the NIT and New York City college basketball.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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