Some of the devotees of Rose Hill are devout, who are constantly weary in the magical winter of 1971. Pine is a sure sign of a bleak present for the past, and when it comes to Fordam basketball, those people have the truth to never be fanatical.
Fifty years ago, February of ’71, Fordham was the most spectacular month in its basketball history. On consecutive Thursday nights, it defeated Notre Dame and lost an OT thriller to unbeaten Markte, arguably Al McGaire’s best team. Both games sold outside Madison Square Garden.
“That,” McGuire said in the quiet of his tired locker room, “is the best coach I’ve seen.”
“We were the city’s princes,” how Koch questioned, Digger Phelps told me a few months ago, “at a time when the princes of this city had a better job than being the King of England.”
Now, the Rose Hill gym remains silent, with an extended halt due to COVID-19 and a 2–11 season that preceded the shutdown, a campaign that already denied coach Jeff Neubauer his job And guaranteed 29th for the 27th time. Years Ram would complete without a winning record.
Fifty years before this week, Fordham cracked the top 10 for the second and last time in school history. March will bring its lone NCAA Tournament win; By April, Phelps had moved to South Bend.
And while there would be a spasm of prosperity under Tom Penders and Nick McCarchuk, and a stolen promise of rebirth under Tom Pikora, Ram never gave up what was depicted in February 1971: a second legal college basketball presence in the city of Fordham. As St. John is knocking.
“I want the basketball program to be a source of pride and school spirit,” says Ed Kull, the athletic director who removed “interim” from his title last week and the first duty in the AD chair that is an important one: 1902’s What may be the most important fare in the history of the date program.
“I want it to be an engagement tool to get alumni back to the Bronx and campus. We know how frustrating it is, we know how important it is to get this right. It is more than important. It is necessary. “
There have been a lot of missteps throughout these last 50 years. The Rams should never have left MAAC for the Patriot League in 1990. This mistake occurred when Fordham, five years later, grew exhausted for that non-scholarship conference and made a blind jump at Atlantic 10, a jump that made a lot of sense for those coming from MAAC.
Picora recruits the A-10 rogues of the year and was rich in fresh talent, including Eric Paschell, and appears to have been primed to make a breakthrough before Kulla was overpowered by the overpowered hunter. An endless wave of players flew Fordham under Neubauer.
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“It’s not just rebuilding,” says Kal. “It is a new construction to build a real infrastructure, a real culture, what it should look like and be like for success and victory. This is a very rare opportunity for a new coach. “
In the coming weeks the identity of that coach will be revealed (no one asked, but my first call will be to Shaheen Holloway of St. Peter’s) and there is little question that Fordam should be competitive in A – 10. Ram has been a notable success in soft and football.
The women’s Hoops team, led by the excellent Stephanie Gatley, made the NCAAS two years ago, which regularly sits among the league’s elite, and resumes in the 8-2 (11-3 overall) A-10 tournament . There are calling cards for competition throughout the athletic department.
“All you have to do is to hire the right person, who was at one time the right person, who left a blueprint exactly 50 years ago to identify the right person,” Phelps said. And hired.