Keith Urgo and Fordham are having a basketball season to remember

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RICHMOND — Keith Urgo was fascinated with what website guests could also be like on southbound I-95 on a vivid Sunday morning in February. “You add all people in my family and some of my buddies coming down, it could decelerate like on a weekday,” he acknowledged with a smile. Wp Get the whole experience. Choose your plan ArrowRight Urgo was kidding — and by no means kidding. He was sitting inside the visiting coaches’ meeting room beneath the stands at Richmond’s Robins Coronary heart an hour sooner than a noon tip-off between his Fordham males and Richmond.

Urgo is the eighth of Don and Carolyn Urgo’s 10 kids — all of them jocks in a single type or one different. He grew up in Potomac and carried out basketball and lacrosse at Gonzaga College Extreme in downtown Washington. So when he talked about family and buddies packing almost-always-packed Interstate 95, he had motive for concern.

Urgo, in his first season as Fordham’s coach, has been part of a distinctive renaissance at a university located not faraway from the Bronx Zoo. Even after Sunday’s 68-58 loss at Richmond, the Rams are 6-4 inside the jumbled Atlantic 10 and 18-5 complete. They seem to be a sport out of second place (and likewise a sport out of sixth). For a gaggle that has had two worthwhile seasons in A-10 play since changing into a member of the league in 1995, that’s an infinite deal.


“They’re masses completely totally different to play in opposition to than beforehand,” acknowledged Richmond Coach Chris Mooney, who has acquired 19 of his earlier 20 video video games in opposition to Fordham. “They’re very bodily. They’re scrappy and laborious. They’re good — interval. We had been fortunate we had been able to match their toughness late.”

Fordham led for a lot of of Sunday’s sport sooner than the Spiders dug in, outscoring the Rams 17-5 inside the closing 5 minutes. The Rams’ loss ended a five-game worthwhile streak that started with three straight freeway victories.

But it surely certainly didn’t boring Urgo’s distinctive journey to turning right into a Division I coach at 42. He went to Fairfield for college, nonetheless a automotive crash shortly derailed his athletic career.

“Didn’t play one thing for two years,” he acknowledged. “ … That accident made me try the trail my life was headed in. I acquired lucky.”


When he recovered, he carried out lacrosse and walked on to the basketball group, recruited by Tim O’Toole, who knew a couple of of Gonzaga’s coaches. By the purpose he accomplished his fourth 12 months at Fairfield — he stayed 5 — Urgo was being recruited by the Tuohey brothers — Brendan, Sean and Devin — to hitch their group “Having fun with for Peace” (now known as “PeacePlayers”). The Tuohey brothers all carried out Division I basketball, and Urgo and Devin had been teammates and shut buddies at Gonzaga.

The group’s goal is to hold collectively kids in nations divided by race or religion: Black and White kids having fun with collectively in South Africa, Catholic and Protestant kids having fun with in Northern Ireland. (Full disclosure: I as quickly as served on the group’s board of directors.)

Urgo spent a variety of months in South Africa sooner than his remaining 12 months in college after which 9 months in Northern Ireland after he graduated. When he obtained right here home, he labored for his father in a variety of Marriott motels he was managing in Canada. He was fluent in French and having enjoyable with himself. He had met Kristy, his partner, at Fairfield, and they also had been on the point of settle down and have a family.


Nonetheless his career in resort administration obtained right here to an end by chance. “I was in a single different automotive accident,” he acknowledged. “Wanted to come back home to Washington. Whereas I was there, [Gonzaga Coach] Steve Turner acquired involved with me and requested if I’d like to show the JVs and the freshmen. I took it.”

The job hardly paid adequate to make a dwelling, so Urgo labored in precise property after which taught middle college for a year-and-a-half. “Taught sixth-grade social analysis, religion and music,” he acknowledged. “Truly saved me alert.”

By then, though, the instructing bug had bitten him. Turner promoted him to be a varsity assistant, and he had started to marvel about turning right into a college coach. He went south one fall to go to North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest. A 12 months later, he went north to Philadelphia and was invited to watch apply at La Salle, Temple and Villanova.


At Villanova, he bumped into an outdated buddy, Jason Donnelly, who was on the employees. Donnelly, now the vice chairman for athletics at Furman, requested him if he was inquisitive about college instructing — on account of Villanova was going to have a spot for a video coordinator the following summer time season.

“I ended up going to Villanova for an interview with all people nonetheless Jay Wright,” Urgo acknowledged. “Jay known as that weekend and acknowledged he was coming to metropolis to recruit on Monday and I ought to fulfill him for dinner on the Houston’s on Rockville Pike.”

Wright was impressed with Urgo — which is why he tried to talk him out of taking the job. “Fully true,” Wright acknowledged, laughing, on Monday morning. “As soon as I meet a youthful man who’s clearly good and who I do know wishes to stay close to his family, I try to tell them they should do one factor aside from college instructing.I knew Urgs will be good at one thing he did, and he wanted a family. I moreover knew if I couldn’t focus on him out of it, he was going to go someplace else and be really good. So I employed him.”

Urgo moved up the ladder in 4 years at Villanova, then went with Patrick Chambers to Penn State. After Chambers resigned, Urgo joined one different former Villanova assistant, Kyle Neptune, remaining season at Fordham.


Fordham, rightfully, has developed a fame as a coach killer. Urgo is the ninth particular person to show the Rams since they joined the A-10. They have not been to the NCAA occasion since 1992 — after they’d been inside the Patriot League — and remaining went to the NIT in 1991.

Urgo took the job as Neptune’s prime assistant and the lads observed progress, going 16-16 a 12 months prior to now after 5 straight shedding seasons. After which, rapidly, Neptune was gone — succeeding Wright at Villanova.

“I was in Orlando on a recruiting journey when he known as and knowledgeable me,” Urgo acknowledged. “Truly, I didn’t think about him. I suggest, really didn’t think about him.” When Neptune lastly acknowledged, “You must get home so we’re in a position to get you this job,” Urgo believed him.

He acquired the job. And the Rams are having arguably their most interesting season since Digger Phelps went 26-3 and reached the Sweet 16 in 1971 — 9 years sooner than Urgo was born.


Last weekend was a tricky one for Urgo, who has 4 kids ranging in age from 3 to 11 — along with a 7-year-old daughter, Samantha, who has Down syndrome. Urgo’s 11-year-old son, Ty, was rushed to the hospital Saturday for an emergency appendectomy. Urgo skipped his group’s flight to Richmond and flew down that night after Ty was out of surgical process and doing successfully. He and Kristy wanted to postpone a surgical process that had been set for Monday for Samantha. Shedding a sport was the least of his points.

“That’s the issue about Keith,” Wright acknowledged. “He’s as aggressive as anybody. I really don’t assume he ever sleeps. Nonetheless he retains all of it in perspective.”

He really has expert additional of life than loads of his pals. Wright wasn’t mistaken regarding the challenges of instructing with a youthful family.

“Nonetheless I’m nonetheless glad I didn’t hear,” Urgo acknowledged.

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