The 2022-23 Men’s Basketball Season Debrief


Fordham’s 2022-23 season ends as their most successful in recent memory. (Courtesy of Twitter)

After expectations were set relatively low in the preseason poll coupled by a number of gaps left behind from the 2022 team, Fordham Men’s Basketball defied all odds this season with a 25-8 overall record and earning a double bye in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament.

Without question, this was Fordham’s best season as an A-10 team and their first 20-plus win season since 1991. For the first time in a long time, teams didn’t want to come to “Rose Thrill” to play against the Rams with the newly revived student section.

All thanks in large part to two people: Director of Athletics Ed Kull and Head Coach Keith Urgo. Both see what the potential of the program can be. They have a blue collar attitude about them and have cultivated a relationship between the student body and the players.

Take for example the ticket sale before the semifinal game against La Salle, where Kull bought as many tickets as humanly possible and slashed the price down from $25 to $10 and covered the rest, just to get students to the Barclays Center. Administration has done a total 180 with their approach to athletics, especially with men’s and women’s basketball, by making it a point to turn basketball into the premier sport at Fordham University.

It all starts with Keith Urgo, the longtime assistant who got his first real chance to run his own program. Under former coach Kyle Neptune, Urgo felt more like the head coach because of how involved he was with both in-game coaching, recruiting, roster construction and culture building.

The A-10 coach of the year helped evolve Fordham into the hottest ticket in the Metropolitan area. Beyond St John’s, Seton Hall and Rutgers, all the local teams were outdrawn by Fordham. Urgo’s energy is infectious throughout the campus and the gym. Not only can he organize his players and manage a game but he also is the director of the student section while coaching.

He emphasized all year about being a trailblazer to the team and doing something that has never been done at Fordham before. Urgo turned this Fordham team into a legitimate threat in the A-10, not only for one season but for three to four years.

After every home win, he even sends the players to join the students in a celebration moshpit which is easily the coolest part about being at “Rose Thrill.”

Student athletes and the regular students interacting with each other, and feeling like they are a singular community, was an element that was missing for a long time at Fordham. The amount of work that went into the team’s social media built a bond with the rest of the Fordham community.

It translated into the actual on-court product rather quickly. Fordham ran right through their non-conference schedule, going 12-1 with a key win against Tulane University in New Orleans. The one loss came at Arkansas against the Razorbacks, a team currently in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Even if Kenpom ranked the schedule as one of the weaker ones in the nation, the Rams took care of their business and won all the games they were supposed to win.

Fordham got off to a rough start in conference play by dropping three of their first four against Davidson College, the University of Rhode Island and Dayton University. They entered a matchup with La Salle University on Jan. 14 in need of a spark.

Urgo did just that at La Salle by inserting freshman Will Richardson and senior Rostik Novitskyi into the starting lineup, which sent Abdou Tsimbila and Darius Quisenberry to the bench for that game to start.

The return on investment paid off in massive proportions instantly: 19 points from Richardson and a game winner from Charlton to spark what would be a dominant run for the Rams. They went on a huge five game winning streak capitalized by upsetting the first place Saint Louis University Billikens at home.

Fordham closed out their season winning three of their last four and totaling 12 A-10 wins, the most ever in program history.

The curtain call for “Rose Thrill” continued at the A-10 tournament at Barclays Center with an opening round matchup against La Salle again.
With over 1,500 students and even more alumni behind them, Fordham was able to overcome a porous performance from the charity stripe and pulled away with a win and for their second appearance in the A-10 semis ever.

Unfortunately, the Dayton Flyers had other plans in mind and ended the season with a 78-68 win over Fordham in the semifinal.

Following the game, the team went over to their loyal (and crazy) fans to thank them for their support all season long. It was especially emotional for the graduating players because of what they were able to experience in their final season.

961 career points at Fordham for Darius Quisenberry, a second team all-conference selection and a spot on the NABC second team all-district were the honors he took home this season. He is a main focal point of the drastic program turnaround.

And how about Khalid Moore? In a singular season he blossomed into a lead option on an elite team. He was a role player at Georgia Tech which helped capture an ACC title and a berth in the NCAA tournament. He hit 1,000 career points, made all-conference third team and was named to the A-10 all tournament team.

Rostik Novitskyi, though a gentle giant, asserted himself many times this year especially once he joined the starting lineup.
Take for example six blocks against La Salle in the tournament, or being one of three Rams to score 14 against Rhode Island at home, or what about his 19 point performance off the bench at Tulane? That’s the beauty of role players: they step up in big spots and Novitskyi did that in more ways than one.

But for the rest of the players, it was a “see you soon” moment. And with Urgo signing an extension through 2027-28, the future is brighter than ever.

Anticipate the coaching staff to have a good chance of keeping everyone on board, especially players like Kyle Rose, Abdou Tsimbila and Antrell Charlton, who will be next year’s seniors. This year’s freshmen will most certainly retain control of the outlook of the team, and it starts with Will Richardson.

Richardson needs to become what Kam Jones was this year for Marquette University as a second-year player: take the quantum leap and lead the team in scoring as a sophomore.

Getting freshman Angel Montas healthy and ready to pair with Richardson is what will be dependent on the team’s future. Also keep an eye out for current freshman Romad Dean and Elijah Gray to take jumps next season as well, especially with Gray in the paint.

With the ever-changing transfer portal, there will be a plethora of talent available for Fordham to land. Expect them to be aggressive in their pursuit to fill holes left behind by graduating talents. To reiterate, anticipate the team keeping everyone in the Bronx for another go-round.

The non-conference schedule does have to improve next year even if the team is getting younger. While going 12-1 was great, some of the teams Fordham played had fans asking themselves, “They have a basketball program?”

Expect Urgo to challenge his team with some harder games and more traveling. It doesn’t have to be like Monmouth’s schedule where King Rice was playing power six schools every other day, but an effort to mix in games against teams like Penn State, Temple, Princeton, Seton Hall or even Saint John’s now that Rick Pitino is in charge. Perhaps slipping in a game against Rutgers would be beneficial.

All told, this first season under Keith Urgo was magical, historical and fun in every single way.

But remember this: Keith Urgo wants to win. He knows the perfume is poison, and that’s why he and the team won’t taste it.