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“Darryl Brown was sweating. It ran down his face, blurring his eyes momentarily, getting caught in his nostrils, making his expensive uniform stick uncomfortably to his body.
“His palms were covered with a persistent film of moisture, making it hard to handle the basketball. But he didn’t have time to slow down.
“The crowd was roaring. The lights were glaring. The action was fast on the floor of Madison Square Garden, and the Fordham Rams were ahead against all odds. Things were going his way.”
So wrote the editors of the Maroon after one of the biggest basketball wins in Fordham history: on Dec. 30, 1974, the Rams demolished the fifth-ranked University of Southern California Trojans by a score of 83-66.
No one could have predicted the stunning upset, which came in the final game of the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s annual Holiday Festival tournament. Fordham went 8-17 the previous season under coach Hal Wissel, and entered the game against USC unranked and supposedly outgunned.
It seemed that no one believed in the Rams except the players themselves.
“A lot of people said this was to be the Monday night massacre, but we were ready for this game,” said Kevin Fallon, who was selected to the all-tournament team.
Fordham relied on a tenacious zone defense, superior speed and some remarkable shots to defeat the Trojans in front of 11,117 elated fans at Madison Square Garden.
“This team has lots of heart. They’re winners,” Wissel told The New York Times after the game. “We beat a team that deserves to rank in the top 10 and now I think we merit some recognition.”
This season, the Rams will once again face top talent on some of basketball’s grandest stages.
The men’s team will venture outside the comfy confines of the Rose Hill Gym on Dec. 19 to clash with the powerhouse Villanova Wildcats—a Final Four team last year—under the bright lights of the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
That game will ready the Rams for yet another contest on the pro hardwood. On Jan. 13, Fordham will take on Atlantic 10 rival Dayton at Madison Square Garden. The game will mark the first Fordham appearance at the Garden since 2002, and the 114th overall.
Is another upset on the horizon?
As a 2009-2010 basketball season ticket holder, you can be there to find out. Here’s what you’ll receive:
• the full season of men’s and women’s basketball tickets;
• a 50 percent discount off the walk-up ticket prices for all 12 home games;
• a ticket to the game against Villanova at the Izod Center;
• a guaranteed seat for popular home games against Xavier, St. Joseph’s and Dayton;
• a free media guide for loge season ticket holders ($10 value);
• first priority in tickets for the Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament;
• reduced-fee parking passes;
• first priority in tickets for the following basketball season.
With a season of Fordham hoops action available for only $110 (general admission; reserved seats are $135 for the season and loge seats are $165 for the season), there’s no need to wait for March to begin the madness!
Plus, the women’s squad is ready to show that the men don’t have a lock on hardwood heroics. A bumper crop of fresh talent is transforming the team, which is built on the solid shooting and steady shoulders of veterans Randall Hurst and Becky Peters.
Just take it from Athletic Director Frank McLaughlin:
“Both coaching staffs worked hard to recruit the outstanding young talent on these teams,” he said. “When alumni show their strong support, it sends a message to the basketball community and to potential student athletes that Fordham is setting its sights on becoming a first-class program.”
Be there when guard Brenton Butler nails a three-pointer against Villanova at the Izod Center.
Cheer the men’s and women’s teams as they take on squads from other Jesuit schools as part of the 2009-2010 Jesuit Basketball Spotlight.
Scream yourself hoarse as Jio Fontan, a 2009 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection, helps the Rams climb the standings in the competitive Atlantic 10.
Do it because it’s not a game.
Be a Fordham Fanatic.
Click here to order tickets.