BROOKLYN, NY– “All of those people, who said Fordham couldn’t be a basketball school, well, they’re finding out,” head coach Keith Urgo said moments after the Rams heard the final buzzer sound off at the Barclays Center this past Thursday night.
Fordham stomped their way to a 69-61 victory over the La Salle Explorers to advance to the Atlantic-10 semifinals that will be played this coming Saturday afternoon March 11th, at 3:30pm ET against the Dayton Flyers – the Rams second ever A-10 semifinal, and first since 2006.
Not only that, but Fordham is 25-7 overall on the season, the most wins by a Rams team since 1990-1991, and one shy of tying the program record set in 1970-1971.
So, for all of those people doubting Fordham, or saying ‘they’re no basketball school’: you’re wrong. As you can see, these Rams are not just one-dimensional, but lethal, by utilizing their depth on both ends of the court.
To start off, guard Darius Quisenberry and forward Khalid Moore depict the two pillars of Fordham’s production. The quarterfinals stood no different as the duo of graduate students combined for 42 of the Rams’ 69 points.
Kyle Rose, junior guard, provides an immediate spark, whether it be in a starting role or off the bench. He scored seven points with nine boards against La Salle, and has appeared in all 32 games this season, (19 starts).
Then, Will Richardson, Antrell Charlton, Rostyslav Novitskyi and Abdou Tsimbila, join together in cohesiveness, to become ‘menaces’ in the paint. Yes, Menaces… Fordham totaled ten blocks in Thursday’s contest, which tied for second most ever in an A-10 Championship game.
Nonetheless, the underlying factors within the Fordham Men’s Basketball program are the players’ buy-in efforts and willingness to go above and beyond for their teammates.
To put it into perspective, though, Quisenberry and Moore were the key players on the stat sheet; they both went into depth on how much of an impact their teammates had on the game.
“Rose is one of our best defenders, if not the best.” Quisenberry said. “Richardson, in my opinion, he definitely should have made the all-freshman team… That’s my teammate and little brother. He gives us great minutes, great energy off the bench, and presses full court. Same with Antrell Charlton, he’s a swiss army knife, we call him that all the time. He does everything for us.”
“And then our two big guys (Tsimbila and Novitsyki), who I just mean are monsters down there. They led the league in blocking, so it’s a collective effort on and off the court,” he added.
“I feel like we feed off those guys,” Moore said about the bench, especially on the defensive end regarding Richardson and Charlton. “They give us a boost and motivation. Even before the game, you see that the game starts with them”
Speaking of that genuine boost and motivation, nothing compared to the Fordham fan base encapsulating a home court advantage by relocating ‘Rose Thrill’ from the Bronx to Brooklyn. Nearly all of the Barclays Center was covered in maroon and white as 8,595 were in attendance chanting on those Rams.
“For me to be growing up in this area, something like that is like a dream come true,” Moore said, who grew up in Elmont, New York. “Something you live for when you look up to college basketball, that’s the kind of crowd you want to play in front of, so it’s definitely a dream come true.”
“Bringing Rose Hill into Barclays Center, it’s just nothing like it,” Quisenberry noted. “The whole community and all of the students did a tremendous job bringing energy the whole game and we fed off that”
The energy will be needed on Saturday afternoon in the A-10 semifinals for the Rams to get past Dayton University. The Flyers, number-two-seed, defeated Fordham by a final of 82-58 this past January in the regular season.
But, in all reality, all the numbers go back to zero as March continues and people find out about Fordham.
“In order to be successful in March, you want your team to be finishing, to be becoming and playing the best basketball they can at the end of the year,” Urgo, the A-10 Coach of the Year, said about the Rams.
“We’ve been doing that in the last few games and we’re gonna need to do it at a very high level on Saturday.”
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Robert Rizzo is a journalist and co-editor of Latino Sports
Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and co-host Robert Rizzo
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