Bronx Rivalry Revisited And It was All Rams

Fordham Athletics

This was once an intense rivalry in the Bronx when the basketball teams from Fordham and Manhattan tipped off at Rose Hill or for the short distance ride to Riverdale. Borough rivalry or supremacy? Call it what you want but the rivalry has changed.

What hasn’t changed is a Division I college basketball game that is called “The Battle of the Bronx,” except the intensity of this rivalry is different. Standing room only crowds in the Bronx and opposing each other twice on the schedule has changed, partly due to the Jaspers of Manhattan competing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the Rams of Fordham in the highly competitive Atlantic 10.

So, Monday night at the Rose Hill Gym there was that early season matchup again, a game that has been played since 1911 and once contested with capacity crowds at Madison Square Garden. Fordham got off to a slow start and eventually took a commanding lead that led to their 93-61 win.

Not much more to say except the Rams believe this win will lead to a team coming together before their intense conference schedule begins in early January. Though the rivalry still means something to both schools, a bit of this history apparently has not caught on with this current core of fans in a place that was aptly named last year as “The Thrill at Rose Hill.”

Exceptions are alumni that witnessed intense games in this rivalry and some again made the journey to Rose Hill. They wore the maroon colors of the Rams and green of the Jaspers. The cheers did not resemble the thrills up at Rose Hill of last season when the Rams made their unexpected journey to the semifinals of the A-10 Conference Tournament.

Last year the rivalry took a hiatus because of scheduling conflicts, perhaps that broke momentum a bit. Regardless of the past this is still a rivalry but consistency every year could pack the old Rose Hill gym again.

It’s awesome,” Fordham coach Keith Urgo said about the rivalry. “Two years ago as an assistant we went there (Draddy Gym) the environment was electric. Been a Fordham guy a long time, know how passionate this rivalry is.”

He mentioned the Jaspers struggling the past few years will get to a point of getting better, and how this rivalry will again have that intensity. He is looking forward to that in years to come. But the student fan base also adds to the intensity and that was absent from previous years, perhaps the game is too early on the schedule, or the history of borough supremacy is not known.

We need more to represent this place best they can,” Urgo said.” When we have an opportunity to put fans in the stands it brings the energy. Reason coaches are saying this is the most electric place to play shows something really special and sustainable for the future.”

Regardless his Rams made a statement about what can be seen when conference play begins, though the Jaspers gave it an early fight and showed they are not in the same league with an Atlantic-10 Conference opponent.

Fordham opened the second half outsourcing the Jaspers 20-7 over the first five minutes, leading to a 67-43 lead capped off by a Kyle Rose three-pointer from the corner. The Rams led by at least 20 the rest of the way, their biggest lead at 93-56 on a Jahmere Tripp jumper with 2:52 remaining.

Rose set a season high in scoring (14) and rebounding (7). Senior guard Japhet Medor scored a game-high 16 points with six assists, three steals and two blocks. Sophomore Elijah Gray added 15, Joshua Rivera also added 15. It was a balanced effort from a young team with depth as Fordham (3-3) had their largest margin of victory against the Jaspers since a 36 point win in 1986 (93-57).

Rivalry, it’s really about us,” said Medor, the senior who experienced this for the first time, though noticed on his end that the fans were helping his game which also pumped up others on the court.  “Love the fans, guys in trying to do our best to protect our field. Played defense, forced turnovers, guys coming in electrified us. Do what we do best force turnovers.”

The Rams scored 23 points off turnovers compared to nine for the Jaspers. This is just one of the many good aspects of their team that also rebounds and defends, though Urgo says there is still room for improvement as the schedule will turn to conference play in early January.

But this is a rivalry that will continue and an important game for the Rams and Jaspers, a tradition that continues and perhaps one day will return to Madison Square Garden. Next month Fordham and St. John’s will resume their rivalry at the Mecca and that was a long time coming.

They electrify and provide that energy,” said Rose about fans at Rose Hill. “Do what we do best, play defense and force turnovers.” A rivalry in the Bronx and a game that means something, next year probably will resume in Riverdale at home for the Jaspers.

Regardless, it’s still a rivalry when Fordham meets Manhattan on the court.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly 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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