Now entering his third year at Fordham, Tom Pecora's Rams have several opportunities for early success in Atlantic 10, which released conference schedule yesterday. (Photo courtesy of WFUV)
Coming off a season in which his Fordham team showed marked improvement from their previous campaign and posted a winning record on their home court at Rose Hill Gym, Tom Pecora two months ago revealed a nonconference schedule that would test the Rams, while at the same time provide many opportunities for a young and improving team to expand their potential.
Following Fordham's final nonconference contest, which is a road game against the University of Mississippi on January 4th, Pecora's Rams host their first two Atlantic 10 showdowns; first welcoming Duquesne and new head coach Jim Ferry to Rose Hill on January 9th, and then entertaining reigning NIT semifinalist Massachusetts, led by point guard Chaz Williams, four days later. Road trips to Charlotte and Dayton are next on the schedule, and the Rams will be looking to avenge bitter losses to the 49ers and Flyers in each of these two meetings; particularly the latter, when Dayton battled back from a second-half deficit to prevail in overtime against Fordham last February at Rose Hill.
Pecora's pupils again embark on a two-game homestand starting January 26th, when Rhode Island and new head coach Dan Hurley make their way to the Bronx in one of two tilts on the schedule in which the Rams battle the Rams, the second being a February 2nd collision with Shaka Smart and A-10 newcomer Virginia Commonwealth, which comes on the heels of a date with Phil Martelli and conference favorite Saint Joseph's on January 30th.
Fordham hosts Saint Louis on February 6th before hitting the road again, and will meet a Billikens team that returns the core of its NCAA Tournament group from last season; but will have a new leader, as interim coach Jim Crews has stepped in for the ailing Rick Majerus, who announced last week that he would not return to the sidelines this season due to medical issues. This contest will be one of three that will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network. The Rams' next two games take them to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, with A-10 contender La Salle hosting Fordham first on February 9th, followed by Chris Mack and a rebuilding Xavier team four days later. The Musketeers will have to retool completely this season, even more so now following the explusion of swingman Dez Wells, who has since transferred to Maryland.
February 16th is arguably the biggest home game of the year, as two-time NCAA Tournament runner-up Butler makes their Rose Hill debut led by coaching prodigy Brad Stevens. The Bulldogs will almost certainly attract a sellout crowd in a matinee that will serve as Fordham's second consecutive CBS Sports Network appearance. A road trip to George Washington four days later sandwiches the Butler game and a home date against 2011 A-10 champion Richmond on February 23rd at Rose Hill.
The Rams get a week off before traveling to Hagan Arena to open March with the back end of their lone home-and-home series of the season on the second of the month against Saint Joseph's. Fordham's final home game will be senior night for star forward Chris Gaston, who will lead the Rams into battle on March 6th against Temple, who will make their final appearance at Rose Hill before joining the Big East next July. This showdown with the Owls will be the penultimate regular season game on the ledger, with reigning conference champion St. Bonaventure serving as the Rams' final opponent three days after the Temple game before Fordham gets the opportunity to compete in the Atlantic 10 Tournament inside its new home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.