By Vin Parise
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I had the chance recently to spend time in the Bronx with 2nd year Fordham coach Tom Pecora. Here’s some scoop on the Rams…
*Embracing the History
Lots of things are changing with Fordham basketball, but some things never change. At nearly 83 years old, it’s tough to find an older home court than Rose Hill. And although it’s always been customary to wish for a bigger and better home court in the Bronx, you won’t hear that from Pecora. “I compare our situation to Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke. It’s been proven in college basketball that you don’t need the huge arena to win. You need passion and you need a team the community wants to rally behind,” said Pecora as he looked around in awe of the place he calls home from center court. “What’s better than this? So much history and tradition is here and now it’s time to take it to the next level. We want to be another era alumni talk about. I loved Hofstra but this truly feels like home. Think about it, after a 1:00 pm game, you can be on Arthur Avenue eating by 4:00 pm.”
*NYC Youth Movement
To say the Rams need time to mature is an understatement. 11 of the 15 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores. Eight are from NYC, another one is from New Jersey. And Pecora doesn’t hesitate to express his recruiting philosophy. “I truly believe what made us successful at Hofstra will carry over to here – you win college basketball games in the metropolitan area with tough New York guards,” said Pecora. All conference star Chris Gaston will be the obvious cornerstone of the team this year, but the Rams will ultimately go as far as their guards take them. The sleeper of this squad is Bryan Smith out of Midwood in Brooklyn. It seems like yesterday that he scored 68 points in a high school game and had no Division 1 offers. Now he has a shot at starting on an A-10 team as a freshman.
*The Pecora Factor
I’M IN! That’s how most huddles end with the Fordham program these days. “I’M IN is a constant reminder of the commitment that is needed here,” said Pecora. “This can’t be a sometimes or half way thing here. You’re either totally in or totally out. That’s practice, games, conditioning and the class room.” When you walk around Rose Hill with Pecora, it’s like a proud homeowner showing you their new digs. Brand new film room is nearly complete. Brand new coaches offices should be ready by the time the season starts. The locker room was transformed last season. Over 2 million dollars has been raised by Fordham University & Athletics for renovations and at the forefront has been the 2nd year head coach. What I like most about the new changes is they’re not losing the historic value. Mahogany wood and stonework have taken the place of modern furniture and frosted windows. “I don’t want it to look like a space ship just landed in the middle of this historic place,” said Pecora. Coaching clinics for NYC high school coaches, alumni watching practice and waiting to see where Pecora is taking them to lunch – everywhere you turn, it’s evident there’s excitement from the Fordham community and a head coach truly living his dream job.
Athletic Director Frank McLaughlin said it best…
“This hasn’t been a resurrection of Fordham basketball, this has been more of a resurrection of New York City basketball. The feeling you get is the local hoops community won’t let Tommy fail.”
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