Not Looking Ahead, But Fordham Is Closing In

Rich Mancuso

Keith Urgo does not want to look ahead and the first year coach at Fordham is taking this a game at a time with three A-10 Conference games remaining, but his Rams achieved another milestone at Rose Hill Saturday afternoon with their 74-71 conference win over Rhode Island.

Another win for this Fordham Men’s basketball team in what has become a special season, is a milestone also, because the Rams see themselves sitting third with Dayton and Saint Louis in the conference standings.

Again, this is uncharted territory because the Rams have not been here in a long time. The achievements continue with their most wins, (11) since joining the conference. Their 23 wins overall are the most for a Fordham team since the 1990-91 season that won 25.

But the Rams know their task is not done because the A-10 Men’s Conference Championship at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn awaits them. They could get a double-bye when the tournament commences on March 7. The task, though, is to finish out the schedule that remains and get in good position.

A conference championship and every team is at zero-zero. Urgo and his Rams know the A-10 has a tendency of seeing more than one upset minded team. He mentions conference tournaments, citing Georgetown and their Big East coming from behind championship not too long ago at Madison Square Garden.

His Rams have made adjustments. They came from behind and applied the second half pressure, as Rhode Island could not spoil this winning atmosphere at the Rose Hill Gym, their 10th win in the last 12.

The Fordham team of 1970-71, a 26-3 squad led by Digger Phelps, never looked ahead. They made noise in a much smaller version of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and were on hand to be honored at halftime as their leader, Charlie Yelverton saw his number 34 officially retired.

But this is all about the current Fordham Rams and coming up with another win. There was a fifth straight sell out in the old Rose Hill Gym and once again the floor shook. Again, the student section was embracing their coach.

A testament of these guys,” Urgo said about how his Rams respond to that enthused student body. ”They wanted to come here and be trailblazers and that’s what they have done. To their commitment and sacrifice, starting to see a connection with the student body.”

Building a program and constant winning will get to this point. The Rams continued to rebound, pace the court, and force the pressure. Those Rams from Rhode Island could not answer but they made it interesting with a final shot that failed which could have forced overtime.

Except, these Rams have shown their resiliency. They missed their share of converting baskets and forced the pressure. They have done this a game at a time during the resurgence, a team that promises to not look ahead because that was never on the agenda.

Try and get the hoops, it gives you motivation,” said Khalid Moore. He shot 6-for-12, including 2-for-4 from beyond the arc, to finish with 14 points, adjustments after leading 36-35 at the half.

Last time they met in January, Rhode Island caused a rare conference loss for the Rams and leading scorer Darius Quisenberry, who led with 33 points. This time around, he was 3-for-13, (3 for 11) from 3-point range and 5 of 6 from the free throw line to add 14 points.

It’s our identity,” he said. “Play as hard as you can. Try and wear a team down the last four minutes of the game and see missed free throws because we wear them out.” Force the turnover and a balanced attack. This time, Rostyslav Novitskyi scored 14 points, added six rebounds and three blocks.

The tradition of Fordham is strong and moving forward,” Urgo said. His Rams are moving forward and not looking ahead at the tournament with that possibility of winning and getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament of 68 teams.

They always find a way to win,” Urgo said. That historic Fordham team looked on. and always found a way to win with a big moment in the Rose Hill Gym. They, too, on the court went one game at a time.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube

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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