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On The Road Again

by Andrew O'Connell
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Fordham looks to overcome road woes with win at Temple tonight

The Rose Hill Gym on a Saturday afternoon is a special place. Natural light emanates over the court from the windows right above the south basket. The sleepiness of the weekend morning slowly dissipates as the energy of nearly 3,000 individuals fills the small, gothic building that more closely resembles a chapel than it does a gymnasium. But the quality that makes the Bronx matinee most special is a Fordham victory.

It is the intimate nature of these friendly confines that has aided Fordham to its best start in nearly five years. The Rams have taken down eight of the ten teams they have faced in the Rose Hill Gym this season, including an ACC school and a nationally ranked opponent (the first since the Carter administration). Most recently, Fordham has bested Rhode Island and George Washington in the 87-year-old edifice, securing a multiple-win Atlantic 10 season for the first time since any of the current undergraduate population arrived on campus.

As lovely as the Rose Hill Gym has been for the Rams this season, the road has given them more problems than Coach Pecora would like in his second season at the helm. Fordham has won just one contest away from Rose Hill during its current campaign (a victory over Siena on December 12) and several of its nine losses have come in embarrassing fashion. Early in December the Rams dropped a contest to cross-borough rival Manhattan by 34 points – a game that was contested just three miles from the Rose Hill Gates. More recently, the Rams dropped their last two road games by a combined 88-point margin, falling to both Richmond and St. Bonaventure by 44 points.

As a matter of fact, Fordham has not won a conference game on the road in three years when the Rams topped St. Bonaventure on January 28, 2009.

“The expression we use is that you need to be 10 points better to win on the road,” said Coach Pecora. “You’re not going to get a good whistle. It’s the reason why in college basketball three out of four times the home team wins the game.”

Coach Pecora knows that his team’s relative youth and inexperience have exacerbated the hardship of playing road games. Featuring seven freshmen and four sophomores, the Rams’ roster lacks an abundance of veteran leadership that is often needed away from home.

Pecora said, “I think with an immature team they put their heads down, as compared to a veteran team who gets angry and competes harder.”

Unfortunately for the Rams, life on the road doesn’t get much easier in the coming weeks. Starting tonight against Temple, Fordham has four more games on opponents’ hardwood, three coming against teams who sit in the top half of the league and with records over .500. And in a conference where parity has been prevailing so far this season (Fordham sits in 13th place in the conference but just three games out of first place), a win in one or two of these road games could go a long way toward securing Fordham’s first berth in the A-10 tournament since 2007-2008.

Since coming to the Bronx from Hofstra almost two years ago, Coach Pecora has constantly talked about changing the culture of basketball at Fordham. Just a short time later, Pecora and his staff are certainly heading in the right direction as far as things at Rose Hill are concerned, but if the Rams wish to continue on into the postseason, changing things on the road needs to be next on the agenda.

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