Worst to first in six seasons, Rams exemplify "March Madness"
Coach Stephanie V. Gaitley has officially made good on her very first promise made as the head coach at Fordham University.
"Give me three years," Gaitley told Fordham President Fr. Joseph McShane before she was hired on April 1, 2011. McShane was tired of seeing the other Jesuit schools piling on at conferences, and had asked his new women's basketball coach how long it would take to turn a program in disarray into one which commanded respect.
Two years, eleven months and nine days later, no one is overlooking Fordham women's basketball anymore.
With the Rams 63-51 victory over perennial Atlantic 10 power Dayton, Fordham officially eclipsed respectability and became the class of the conference after falling in the conference final last season. Four Rams finished in double figures at the Richmond Coliseum and three finished with double doubles. It concluded a three game tournament stretch in which Fordham allowed just over 40 points per game, proving the old adage of "defense wins championships" remains very much relevant.
The tournament's Most Outstanding Player award went to Fordham's Abigail Corning, the lone remaining player for the previous coaching staff. Coach Gaitley's first transfer, Fordham's only first team All-Atlantic 10 player in program history, Erin Rooney added all-tournament team honors as well.
The win came one season after Fordham fell in the Atlantic 10 title game to Saint Joseph's following a series of controversial calls. Having lost Marah Strickland, Arielle Collins, Charlotte Stoddart, and Ranait Griff to graduation, few thought Fordham would be back so soon. Surely even fewer thought that Fordham would complete one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of college basketball. From 0-29 to the NCAA Tournament in just six years.
After the game, we caught up with assistant coach Laura Forbes, outstanding junior forward (or shall we say "guard") Emily Tapio and head coach Stephanie V. Gaitley. Also, hear DJ Sixsmith's final call of the contest, securing Fordham's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1994.
WFUV Sports, the broadcast home of Fordham women's basketball, will have live play by play coverage of the NCAA Tournament and Selection Monday.