As Fordham celebrated their first victory in the Jeff Neubauer era, the head coach had particular words for Rams fans who missed their 76-57 win over Division II Queens College at Rose Hill Gym.
“I’m going to say one thing, and I’m never going to say it again during my time here at Fordham; I’m incredibly disappointed with this crowd tonight,” Neubauer said. “So to have a game in New York City, opening day of the season and only have 2,100 people here is incredibly disappointing. I won’t say that again, but I can’t believe we didn’t have 3,000 people here.”
Last season the Rams drew an average of 1,874 fans to Rose Hill Gym, whose capacity is 3,200. During that time Neubauer, the former head coach at Eastern Kentucky, was drawing an average of 2,765 to McBrayer Arena, which could hold as many as 6,500. The Colonels drew crowds over 4,000 fans twice last season in Neubauer’s teams wins over Belmont and Morehead State.
“And all I’m saying with that is, there are Fordham people all around this city that want this program to be good, there’s nowhere else they should be other than this gym,” Neubauer said. “If we’re going to have a home court advantage, we need more people acting like those students that were in here tonight.”
“I really thought the students that were in here were really great, their energy was terrific, but this place only seats 3,000 and we can’t even fill it on opening night? That’s not a good sign.”
Senior Mandell Thomas, who helped lead the way for the Rams with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, said that the team has drawn off the fan’s energy in the past.
“It hasn’t been real easy, like coach said since I’ve been here, but certain games when we’re playing a high-caliber team, they definitely show up then,” Thomas said. “But when it’s like a regular team, they don’t really show up as much. It’s difficult, but as a player, you can’t really focus on that. You’ve still got to go out and perform anyway.”
Fordham officially drew 2,132 fans for their first win in the Neubauer era. The Rams will host Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday afternoon as they play the second of nine straight home games.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.