The reality is at Rose Hill up in the Bronx and a Fordham University men’s basketball team in late January sitting fourth in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings. The reality is a Fordham team (5-3- A-10 -17-4 overall) are enjoying their best conference start since 2007.
Reality, the Rams own the best record among New York City area college basketball teams. With the A-10 Conference Tournament in seven weeks at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they are a viable threat, though still plenty of games to be played and anything can happen.
But the Rams, after their second half comeback, 85-70 win over George Washington Saturday afternoon, are the reality. Ask the coach, student, and alumni fan base because this started in July when Keith Urgo, once an assistant, assembled his team for the first time.
“Our team, our depth has a tendency of wearing teams down in the second half,” Urgo said after the Rams first four game conference winning streak since 2016. “Our goal, one possession at a time.”
His team held one of the top scoring teams in the league from converting their shots from the outside. The Rams also held GW’s James Bishop IV, leading the A-10 in scoring (22.0 ppg) to 15 points, four in the second half. Fordham’s defensive plays and adjustments in the second half overall contributed to 17 turnovers.
Grad student forward Khalid Moore scored a career high 30 points on 10-of-14 from the field. Grad student guard Darius Quisenberry scored 22 points and four assists, and the Rams have not seen a duo on the court like this in a long time.
They believe in themselves, always have, and this winning philosophy has the Rams going a game at a time. Tuesday night at Rose Hill, it’s another tough conference team, Saint Louis, and that will be another test.
But these Rams are for real. They can finish as a top team in their conference and have quietly become a sleeper to contend with prior to March Madness. Talking about the Rams as a viable team in late January has been rare.
In the past, conference teams would approach Fordham as another opponent. A quarterfinal round game last March, down in Washington D.C. at the A10 Conference Tournament against top seeded Davidson, was when the Rams started to believe under their former coach Kyle Neptune. Urgo has taken the ball and run with it.
No longer, though, because these Rams are viable. Again, though, a difficult conference schedule awaits in the next four weeks and Saint Louis is sitting atop the standings. A win Tuesday night and doubters can surely become believers.
“Every team in the A-10 is a battle in the league, every team is better than they were a week two weeks,” said Urgo. “Our depth is really good. Everybody is getting more comfortable. Big time production from our bench. They never believe they are out of a game.”
This was going to have to be one of those comeback wins as Fordham trailed at the half, 37-33. Quisenberry and Moore changed the tempo in the second half as they led a 20-4 run to take a 72-59 lead on a pair of Moore free throws with 5:40 remaining.
It was also the second consecutive 50-point second half for the Rams, coming off a 79-68 conference win at St. Bonaventure. And it has always been teams in this conference that can score and make a difference. The Rams are now that team with the reality of what could come. If they can finish strong, they could just receive a first round bye in March at the conference tournament.
“Started July 1st, we’ve been building this,” Quisenberry said. “This is a long time coming. It’s always about attitude, not thinking of the last play and moving in to the next one. It’s more than just on the court. If you stick on the right attitude it comes up with a better play.”
Moore said, it’s about keeping a positive mindset and energy comes from the start which also helps with the defense. The Rams are also getting that from Kyle Rose, their junior guard that Urgo says is vying to be the best defensive player in the conference. One game at a time. but this win Saturday is a reality because the Fordham Rams are here.
More importantly, in late January, a top team in the A-10 Conference.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.