Team could lose 3rd player after 3-25 season

Things are getting tougher in the Bronx for Fordham. Duquesne fans know the pain of a 3-25 year as the current 21-13 Dukes' program was 3-24 just three years ago. DU turned things around with a coaching change. How will Fordham handle the situation now that top scorer is about to join numbers two and five on the transfer wire?

In 2007-08, Fordham was picked for fourth since four senior starters were returning led by preseason first team pick Bryant Dunston and third teamer Marcus Stout. Instead the Rams were the final seed (no. 12) in the '08 Atlantic 10 Conference tournament and finished with a 12-17 record, 6-10 in league play.

They didn't make the tournament this year. Their 1-15 A-10 mark put them last in 14th place; the prediction had been #13.

The good news out of all that was 6-foot-0, 170-pound freshman point guard Jio Fontan, from the renowned St. Anthony's program in New Jersey, getting named to the 2008-09 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball All-Rookie Team. That was on March 9th.

Eight days later (3/17), the school announced that 6-foot-3, 195-pound reserve guard Trey Blue from Brewster Prep and South Holland, Ill., was transferring. He was this season's fifth highest scorer with a 8.2 ppg average in 19 games. Blue's 32 three-pointers were third best on the team. He also averaged 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in close to 20 minutes per game.

Then on April 2, 2009, Fordham announced that 6-foot-5, 192-pound wing Mike Moore, the Rams' number two scorer out of James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn., would also transfer. Moore started 23 games and averaged 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.7 minutes per game. He led FU with 42 made three-pointers, shooting at a 30.2 percent clip.

Moore was number five in scoring as a freshman with a 5.5 ppg average, playing 15.5 mpg in 28 of the team's 29 games.

    He was also recruited by Boston U., Central Connecticut State, the College of Charleston, Fairfield, Northeastern, Quinnipiac and Richmond.

The same day, the New York Daily News' Sean Brennan reported that Fontan would also transfer, perhaps heading to Rutgers. He led the team with a 15.3 point and a 4.7 assist average. He also had 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 34.6 mpg. Fontan led all Atlantic 10 freshmen in both scoring and assists and was twice named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week.

He wasn't a preseason all-rookie pick. His selection, coming from a 3-win team, says a lot about this guy.

The next day, Brennan reported that initially the school said they wouldn't grant a release. Brennan's guess is Fontan will get the release after Easter.

    Fontan was an early recruit for FU, making his decision shortly after the end of his junior season. Delaware, Fairfield, George Mason, St. John's and St. Peter's also were in the hunt. He played AAU ball with Jersey's Playaz program.

This past fall, three players signed National Letters on Intent with Fordham: Lance Brown, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound wing from Paterson Catholic in N.J., Brian Freeman, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound power forward from the Potomac School in Virginia, and Chris Gaston, a 6-foot-7. 205-pound power forward from New Hampton Prep in N.H. and St. Anthony's in N.J.

NYDN's Sean Brennan speculated that Brown and/or Gaston, both played AAU with the Playaz, might reneg on their letters if/when Fontan leaves.

A coaching change, given the economic situation, seems less of an option. Coach Dereck Whittenburg's contract was extended in November 2007 through the 2012-13 season.

The Rams play in the 3,200-seat Rose Hill Gym, the oldest home court in Division. It went into service on January 16, 1925 for a game between Fordham and Boston College. This season, attendance averaged 2,037. (Duquesne's was 2,786 at Palumbo.)

Unlike St. Joe's Alumni Hall, no renovations appear in the works. The last upgrade was in 2002, when new lighting, new scoreboards, new stands and a new sound system were installed and the roof and all the windows in the gym were replaced.

Expect more news this spring. One thing is known: the mandatory rule for coaches - you never stop recruiting.


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