It's been a generation or so since one could utter the following...Fordham basketball is back.
On the heels of the Rams first victory over a ranked opponent since 1978, there is genuine excitement bordering on euphoria at Rose Hill in the Bronx. The defeat of Harvard, entering the game (January 3) ranked 22nd in the nation, followed the toppling of Georgia Tech from the ACC and has created a buzz around Fordham basketball.
We'll ignore, for the time being, that both of those signature victories occurred at home, on campus, in what has to be considered an antiquated, though potentially intimidating, facility. Coach Tom Pecora, who helped bring credibility to Hofstra basketball over the last decade or so, likes to refer to the Rose Hill gym as a cathedral, echoing a report from ESPN The Magazine. As an alumnus, you can be assured it is anything but a palace. But, when Fordham has a representative team...and we haven't observed that for many a year...it can provide a daunting atmosphere for an opponent not unlike that of many quaint, compact college gyms around the country. An opponent can be made uncomfortable, as if they're playing the team plus the packed house of rabid fans hovering over them.
We'll also ignore that Harvard as the ranked opponent defeated doesn't exactly register as an all-time upset. There is no question Harvard is legitimate this year, as they were last. To be fair, they are still an Ivy League school without a reputation as a powerhouse. What are the odds they'll be a ranked team later in the season. Certainly, it's not as if North Carolina rolled in and exited with a loss.
Ultimately, who cares? Right now, all who fondly remember the Digger Phelps years with significant games at Madison Square Garden, played by student athletes who would move on to careers as doctors and lawyers and the like, can bask in the glow of a big win and a program that appears to finally be on the ascent. For goodness sakes, it's a team that defeated the team that defeated Boston College. Yes, that's a bit contrived, but at the moment, wouldn't everyone be intrigued by a Fordham -Boston College matchup? Right now, it would be a toss-up.
Glenn Vallach's college basketball passion has very little to do with his own alma mater, Fordham University, that has wavered between disappointing and awful for the last generation or so. The few Fordham highlights in his memory were actually forged the season before his freshman year, when Digger Phelps was leading a pedestrian group of overachievers to a national ranking. But from Elvin Hayes through Tyler Hansbrough, he is a fervent student of the college game.
- Yahoo! Sports Harvard page
- Yahoo! Sports Fordham Rams page
- Associated Press, Smith scores 22 to help Fordham top No. 22 Harvard