RAMS LEAD LOCALS

It’s tournament time!

Now is the time of the year when the better teams in their respective leagues try for midnight madness with the selection of the colleges go into the NCAA tournament in different regions throughout the United States. At the beginning of the season, most of the better college teams have one goal in mind-the Final Four, a prestigious event leading to the championship of the NCAA Division I competition.

However, the first step is to qualify for the Conference post season tournament.

At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the home of the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association, the Atlantic 10 will conduct its tournament at the same time that the Big East Tournament is being held at Madison Square Garden.

The Fordham University Rams with its main branch in The Bronx and another branch in mid-town Manhattan, is the lone basketball representative of New York City as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Based on their under .500 record, the Rams are not favorite to advance too far in the tourney. But anything can happen in a tournament. It’s one loss and a team is eliminated.

Because of their finish in the league, the Rams have to play in a tournament game to start matters off on Wednesday evening with the victor advancing to the first round on the following day. The way Fordham has been playing, especially against Virginia Commonwealth University, there’s no telling how they will do.

However, everyone is delighted to have the A-10 Tournament to be staged in New York City and on the floor of a professional team.

All eyes will be on the Rams’ performance on the court and especially on senior point guard Branden Frazier and freshman Jon Severe. Frazier is expected to be a great player in due time, possibly headed into the National Basketball Association. If he works hard he’ll make it.

“Playing in the A-10 tourney is good for the kids, gives them exposure, lets them grow, and gives them exposure from NBA scouts,” said Jay Brown, a former basketball and football player at DeWitt Clinton High School in The Bronx.

“It’ll be wonderful to see the A-10 Tournament at Barclays Center. It’s a beautiful and great facility,” said Brown. “We’ll have a big crowd. UMass will also have a big crowd when they play.”

One worker who resides in the neighborhood of the school is a former soccer player at the University of Alabama, Chris Alexander, now a retail manager for the Fordham concessions, was working in security in the gymnasium of the Rose Hill campus where the games are scheduled

Originally, Alexander comes from Jamaica, West Indies, where he was a soccer and cricket player and resided there for 12 years. Now he is living in New York.

Alexander feels that the Atlantic 10 Tournament being played at Barclays Center is very nice for the latter to host .

“All the kids and poor people from the area have a chance to see college basketball teams in action in a pro atmosphere. I think for Fordham to win (even the first round) will be rough,” said Alexander.

Meanwhile, head coach Tom Pecora has been having another disappointing season.

“We did everything expected to win,” the coach said. “We’ve come a long way….”

It’ll be great for any team to compete in such a venue with the Rams being no exception. Just to compete in such an atmosphere means something.

“This is a big time league,” added Pecora, whose team starts the tourney with such a game on Wednesday night.

All the teams certainly enjoy playing in this venue. VCU Coach Shaka Smart noted after the win over Fordham, “We love playing in the Barclays Center. Last year our fans enjoyed it. We brought in a lot of fans and hopefully we’ll bring in more. So many different teams have a chance to win in this post season league tournament).”

Meanwhile, after a losing season, the Rams will have it tough to go deep in this tournament.

“We had two major issues getting that kind of team effort consistent for 40 minutes, and our offense (hasn’t been great),” said Pecora. “We have to make those shots and knock them down.”

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