Fordham's Hill suffering through tough time
With Hill beginning his second season as coach of Fordham, the Rams became the surprise team of the Atlantic 10. But things have gone sour in recent weeks and Hill has resorted to drastic measures.
'If we need to get up and practice at 6 a.m. or do something different than what our routine has been, then that's what we'll do,' Hill was saying last week, when he decided he'd seen enough bad attitudes and shoddy play.
Fordham carries a five-game losing streak into its game tonight against visiting Duquesne, which is in even worse shape, having lost eight consecutive games and 11 of its past 12.
The Dukes also have dropped 17 consecutive road games.
While coach Darelle Porter's motives to shake up the Dukes appear subtle, Hill seems to be on a mission. His efforts have have included moving 40 minutes from his New Jersey home onto Fordham's Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, N.Y., to be closer to the players.
And, yes, practices begin at 6 a.m.
After shocking some A-10 favorites early on, Fordham (11-11, 3-7 A-10) has fallen on hard times. The Rams were in ninth place heading into tonight's game against 10th-place Duquese (7-17, 1-9), one of only two teams with poorer conference records.
Fordham's situation isn't as bad as Duquesne's, which might very well be playing out the string.
The Dukes, who have not been consistently competitive in any of their past five games, would need to win three of their final five regular-season contests and go undefeated in the A-10 tournament to avoid losing 20 games for a third consecutive season.
Duquesne will be without sophomore guard Kevin Forney, who was ejected from the Dukes' 92-66 loss at George Washington on Sunday after an altercation with the Colonials' Chris Monroe. A-10 guidelines require players ejected from games for fighting to serve a one-game suspension.
Another incident similar to Sunday's would end Forney's season.
Porter said that without Forney's availability, the coach will look to senior walk-on Matt Barker and freshman J-S Esposito for help.
'J-S will get more of an opportunity than he's been getting,' Porter said. 'We're going to try to work him into the game in the first half.'
Esposito, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Brantford, Ontario, saw his most extensive playing time Sunday, logging one assist in a little more than five minutes.
Barker, a 3-point specialist from Woodland Hills, started two games last week for the Dukes in what Porter said was an effort to jumpstart his team's poor play.
'Matt is capable and we'll use him,' Porter said.
Barker's best effort this season came during an 84-58 loss to Temple on Feb. 1, when he hit three 3-pointers in the first half to finish with nine points.