The Thrill is Back

Fordham Athletics

Fordham coach Keith Urgo has not had many opportunities this season to say, “The thrill at Rose Hill.” His Fordham Rams are younger and competitive and do not resemble the team from last year that was unbeatable at home. Last March the Rams advanced to the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference championship tournament and were talk of the town.

Fordham was the talk of local college basketball and a resurgence up at Rose Hill. Tickets were difficult to obtain a seat at the historic and friendly confines of Rose Hill and Urgo was a part of the resurgence in his rookie year.

Friday night there was a thrill that resembled last February when the Rams were making their push in the A-10 standings for the upcoming conference championship. A sold out crowd in the confines of the oldest college basketball venue in the nation and the Rams got their first home conference win of the season over Duquesne, 79-67.

It was the first time the Rams were seen nationally on the ESPN 2’s Friday night A-10 game of the week. Enthused they are always at Rose Hill, but the fan base of students and alumni as seen so many times last year does provide that energy. Urgo has reiterated more than once how important that crowd plays into the energy.

Rose thrill what it is,” Urgo said with his usual energy. “Country got to see Fordham, the most historic arena in the country, fill the place. The energy of this team returned. These guys made some big time plays. To get the crowd into it and feel the energy, we feed off that.”

He said playing at Rose Hill with that loud environment has an impact on the Rams and the visiting teams. This season, with a younger team and a few seniors, it has been a struggle to win at home. Capacity crowds have not flocked to the oldest fieldhouse in the nation, but they were loud and heard.

The Rams responded and overcame a 32-26 halftime deficit. They opened the second half with a 8-2 run and tied the game at 34, two minutes into the second half. That energy and thrill returned, significant for a Fordham team that needs to finish strong during this final four game stretch before the conference tournament next month at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Playing at home in front of an environment like that not only affects our players, it affects them,” Urgo said about opposing teams visiting Rose Hill. “Get the big lead again and punch them in the mouth. “

Well not exactly punching opposing players in the mouth, But the Rams resembled the team they were last year at Rose Hill that became a thrill. Fordham (11-16- 5-0 conference) set a winning record at Rose Hill last year and finished with the second highest total of 25 wins in their history,

Kyle Rose, the senior guard, brought back the energy by scoring a game high 23 points and added five assists. His rebounds and the Rams tenacious defense had the Dukes in trouble in the second half. For the Rams to make an impact down the stretch, a lot will depend on Rose.

Rose thrived with that energy, a part of the Rams success last year. He did make a difference and made a statement scoring eight of his points in the beginning moments. He connected on 8 of his 12 field goal attempts and senior guard Antrell Charlton added 16, shooting 5-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc with 8 assists.

Have everyone come back and support is a Fordham night,” said Rose. “We fed on the energy and executed the best we could.”

Though Urgo during this difficult schedule has never bowed down to critics. He has been uplifting and said the Rams were coming together. According to the experts, the A-10 Conference is one of the toughest to grind with Richmond, Chicago, and Dayton in the mix for NCAA Title Tournament bids.

Fordham was aggressive in that second half. They cleaned up their foul trouble and enabled the Dukes to make mistakes. It was a thrill again at Rose Hill and Urgo is looking forward to their Tuesday night encounter at home with George Mason, another opponent among the top 6 in conference play.

These guys have earned the right to experience these things,” Urgo said. “Tonight you got to see the full force of what we are capable on the defensive end. Proud of the energy, our effort. You wouldn’t know if we won four in a row or lost four in a row.”

And with that, the thrill returned. Urgo concluded with his usual closing remark of “Go Rams.” And that Rose Hill enthusiasm does make a difference.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich 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 BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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