Thursday, January 21, 2016

George Mason Patriots 62 at Fordham Rams 73 (NCAA Basketball, A10) - January 20, 2016


The oldest on-campus Division I basketball venue is Rose Hill Gym at Fordham University in the Bronx. Rose Hill was opened on January 16, 1925, making it 91 years old. The building is located right next to Jack Coffey Field, where Fordham football takes place in the fall. It was the last of the 14 NYC-area Division I gyms I had yet to visit, so I headed up there on a chilly Wednesday evening to see the Rams take on the Patriots in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI.



The front of the gym is quite nice, fitting in with the rest of the Collegiate Gothic architectural style that prevails on campus, though it is difficult to capture in the dark with a crappy, broken camera. Note that this is not the entrance for visitors, rather you must enter via the McGinley Center to the left to actually get in the gym. They even have a security guard out front to tell you this, though the doors here lead to the same area.



Inside the lobby of the McGinley Center, the entrance to the gym proper is on the right, up a small set of stairs. The lobby is also where you buy tickets. There are three price levels: $25 for balcony loge seats (above the main seating bowl and really not worth it) and reserved chair backs (right side of the photo below), $20 for reserved benches (left side, behind the player benches) and $15 for unreserved end zone seats. A small concession stand can be found here, with pretzels, candy, and bottles of soda for $2.50. There are vending machines down a set of stairs that charge $1.75 for the same bottle of soda, so if you are particularly thrifty, wander downstairs before entering the gym. There is another concession stand inside selling the same things, and you can pick up a simple roster sheet that lets you keep score for $1.



The photos below provide slightly more detail. Note the other A10 banners in the photo below; Fordham does not include itself in the display so there are only 13 hanging there. I really wish these numeric conferences would update their names to be more accurate.



There are only seven rows in the chair back section, but ten in the benches. My advice is to get the top row and rest your back against the wall as a few people are doing in the photo below.



One unreserved end zone is actually reserved for students and the pep band. It is clearly labelled as the Fordham Fanatics Student Section; if you do buy the $15 seats, better to sit at the other end which will not be as crowded.



I ended up splurging on the $20 seats and sat in the top row behind the George Mason bench. Fordham fans generally sit behind the Rams bench, so you will get more space in Section 111 and 112. The view from my spot is below; there really isn't a bad seat in the place.



As you might expect from an institution so old, there is a lot of history here, but it is somewhat hidden. You will notice an extensive Hall of Fame as you enter the gym, but this is the only display that is inside the actual venue. There are 357 inductees from as far back as the Class of 1869, including Vin Scully and Frankie Frisch.



Of course, Vince Lombardi played and coached here, and is honoured with a bust. However, it is not in the gym itself, but in part of the McGinley Center. Take the far right door when leaving the gym (not the door that leads back to the lobby) and you will find yourself in a hallway lined with memorabilia.



One one wall, they have photos and captions detailing the timeline of Fordham sports. Take the time to read these; so much has happened here but as Fordham is no longer a power school, you won't hear about it on ESPN.



There are also display cases with various trophies and other historical items. Quite fascinating and a shame that more fans don't know about this little treasure trove.



Most surprising to me was the 1942 Sugar Bowl Trophy (below). The game was played on January 1st, 1942, just 25 days after Pearl Harbor. Fordham was ranked sixth in the country and played #7 Missouri, with the final score being 2-0 in the Rams favour. It remains the lowest-scoring untied bowl game in history (there have been four 0-0 ties) and the trophy resides in this unassuming hallway on Fordham's campus. Get there early and take a few minutes to explore, it isn't all that big. You can also look around after the game.



Speaking of the game, George Mason came to town for this midweek A10 battle. Both teams were 1-4 in conference play, though Fordham had enjoyed a successful non-conference slate, running off nine straight against luminaries such as Fairleigh Dickinson and Coppin State.



The game started with a bang with Antwoine Anderson (#0 above) completing a thunderous alley-oop with Mandell Thomas getting the assist. When Christian Sengfelder (below) added a layup, the Rams were ahead 4-0 and they never looked back, leading from wire-to-wire. GMU only sank eight field goals in the first half, and stayed close thanks to 10/10 shooting from the charity stripe as Fordham went into the break up 37-28 despite nary a trip to the line themselves.



The Rams widened the lead early in the second half as the Patriots continued to struggle, missing their first four shots while Anderson and Sengfelder added six points between them. With the score 47-33, GMU went on a 13-5 run to narrow the deficit to six. The teams traded a few baskets as the Pats hung around. With just over two minutes left, poor shot selection from Fordham's Joseph Chartouny (from Quebec), who chucked a couple of ridiculously long-range threes on consecutive possessions, allowed GMU to get within 4 at 62-58. But Anderson drained a critical three on the next trip down and when GMU missed their ensuing shot, they were forced to foul. The Rams sank 5 of 6 from the line in the final minute and change to win 73-62 in a game that was closer than it should have been.



There is the final below on one of the very nice end zone scoreboards that likely was not around when the gym first opened. Anderson led all scorers with 23, including 9 of 10 from the floor.



Fordham was outrebounded 41-27, including yielding 11 of 33 boards on their own glass, but they won because of superb ball control, turning the ball over only five times, compared to 17 Patriot miscues.

There are two other players worth mentioning. Ryan Canty played one minute for Fordham and managed three fouls in that time, along with a block. That's impressive. For George Mason, freshman Otis Livingston II, a Jersey native, had friends and family in the stands and he was definitely trying to impress. Speedy and with good hand, Livingston was a whirling dervish, dribbling in and around Ram players all night long. His energy was entertaining to watch but not particularly effective in the end, as he finished with just 7 points and 2 assists in 30 minutes. It is worth checking out the rosters at these games to see if any visiting players are local products and to focus on them as they will let nerves get the best of them or have a game to remember.

Notes

The oldest Division I venue is Matthews Arena, where the Northeastern Huskies play both hoops and hockey. Based on what I can tell, it is just a block from campus. I'll be going there next season to see both teams play.

Next Up

Did you know that there is NCAA men's volleyball? There are only 22 Division I schools, but one of them is NJIT, who have a game tomorrow against Division III Marymount. With a winter storm coming in this weekend, though, that game has been cancelled, so I will probably go next week instead. That storm has also led me to postpone my trip to Poughkeepsie, home of Marist basketball, until next week. Check back for updates as New York overreacts to a few inches of snow. Or a lot of snow as it turns out. Over two feet worth!

Best,

Sean

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