Coppola: The City Game Is Alive and Well in The Bronx

With the end of the baseball season, I look forward to college sports. Football and basketball in particular. For my first basketball game this season at Fordham University, I watched the Rams blow out the Marist ‘Red Foxes’ last night on the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, by the score of 58 to 41.

The game had the normal lightning speed and amazing acrobatic moves from these gifted young athletes. The coaches in suits, cheerleaders, kick line dancers, the Ram mascot and the talented pep band all made the night in that historical Rose Hill Gymnasium super fun for the 1,770 in attendance.

It was also homecoming weekend for the students and alumni who were treated to games of soccer, football, basketball and water polo all on Saturday. Truly a head spinning day for all who came to this amazingly beautiful campus.

At halftime I watched my colleague Rich Mancuso give an interview with communications student Jimmy Sullivan. I was amazed at how knowledgeable and professional this kid was. I am confident that Sullivan will be working in a broadcast booth in professional sports soon after he graduates. Just an outstanding job. With the topics moving from baseball to basketball and even boxing. This brilliant young man made quite the impression.

So how was the game? Well, on this night the Fordham defense dominated. The Rams’ head coach Jeff Neubauer said; “We told our players that for the first three games we want to defend and worry about the scoring later.” The kids bought into it and executed their plan to almost perfection. Neubauer also stated that he expected Marist to come out with a man to man defense and instead they went with a zone. It took Fordham most of the first half to figure it out.

That’s where their smothering defense kept them close until they pulled ahead by as much as 21 points by midway through the second half and never looked back.

Next on the schedule for the Rams is the University of Nevada at the 2019 Paradise Jam tournament in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. I asked my publisher if I could cover that tournament and he said, “Sure, but I don’t think the cargo ship I will book you on would get there in time.” Can you believe that?

The Rams will be facing a very strong A-10 conference schedule this year as we have seen future opponents come off of big wins against top NCAA division one teams. With Richmond outlasting Vanderbilt in OT, St. Joseph’s surprising UConn on the road, VCU stunning No. 23 LSU at home and Rhode Island beating Alabama decisively, all in one week.

One thing for sure though is, the excitement of college basketball in the Bronx this season will be right here for the asking.

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