Archdeacon: Wayne grad leads resurgent Fordham against UD with ‘mountain’ on his shoulder

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Dayton Flyers hope they don’t find out what Wright State did three years ago.

“I feel like I always play with a chip on my shoulder, but sometimes maybe, I play with a mountain when it’s against a hometown team,” Fordham guard Darius Quisenberry said with a smile Friday afternoon at the Barclays Center.

A Wayne High grad who spent his first three years of college as a star at Youngstown State, Quisenberry had the game of his life against a 23-5 Wright State team that visited the Beeghly Center on Feb. 20, 2020.

That game he made 14 field goals — seven of them from three-point range — hit all six of his free throws and ended up with a career-high 41 points.

Now a fifth-year player about to get his masters degree, Quisenbrry is the leader of a resurgent Fordham team that meets UD in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Barclays Center.

And if that chip feels a little like Mount Everest against the Flyers, it’s understandable.

“In high school, I used to be over at UD all the time in the summer playing in the open gyms,” he said. “I was with a lot of their guys.

“Back when Archie Miller was the coach, they recruited me. They had me over for two or three games. I was there with my mom and dad. We sat behind the bench and I went back in the locker room.”

And then?

“They didn’t offer me a scholarship,” he said with a shrug, then a smile.

“Honestly, even if they had, I might not have come. It was the same with Wright State and they did offer me. But they both were close to home and I kind of wanted to get away a little bit.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

He started at Youngstown State as a freshman and averaged 13.8 points per game. Within three years he had scored 1,213 points, twice been named to the All-Horizon League first team and had graduated.

He entered the transfer portal and said this time the Flyers were interested.

But he saw a chance to make a bigger impact at Fordham, a program that had struggled for long time in the A-10.

He’s now played in 138 college games — started 136 of them — and scored 2,166 total points.

Urgo was just named the A-10 Coach of the Year, and he credits Quisenberry for the leadership he’s provided to help him turn the program around.

While Quisenberry said he wanted to be a trailblazer at Fordham, he also admitted last season ended on a bad note for him

He said he didn’t want his college career to end like that:

“I had unfinished business.”

Following the family path

Quisenberry comes from an athletic family.

His dad, Richard, played basketball at Rio Grande University and his mom, Andrea, was a tennis player at Wittenberg.

Older brother Malik played basketball at Heidelberg University and his sister Bianca — who scored 2,349 points at Tecumseh High, was named Miss Basketball of Clark County three times and was the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year — played at the University of Cincinnati.

And he now has a niece who’s a freshman standout at Lakota West.

Quisenberry played his first two years at Tecumseh High before transferring to Wayne. And while he starred on the basketball court there, he also performed in the classroom.

“My mom set it up well for me,” he said. “I took college classes at Sinclair while I was going to Wayne. Then when I got to Youngstown State, I flooded my workload in the classroom so I could graduate in three years.”

He has shown that same work ethic at Fordham, Urgo said:

“His biggest impact has nothing to do with basketball. He’s taken a lot of pride in being an ambassador of Fordham basketball. His leadership has been through the roof and our young guys are learning from that.

“And that will last a lot longer around here than just the points he’s scored for us.”

‘Underdog my whole life’

The two teams last met Jan. 10 at Rose Hill Gym the Bronx, and the Flyers — led by DaRon Holmes’ 32 points — overpowered the Rams, 82-58.

Quisenberry struggled that game, making just 1-of-7 shots for three points.

The Fordham players and UD coach Anthony Grant agree that the Rams are different now. They’re a better team.

Quisenberry led Fordham with 22 points in its 69-61 victory over LaSalle on Thursday night in the A-10 quarterfinals to set up the game with UD.

He knows people will paint him and his team as the underdog in this one. He’s used to it:

“I’ve been the underdog my whole life. I’ve kind of been overlooked and never really been in the spotlight. But I’ve tried to work hard and do the dirty work in the dark and now it’s starting to come into the light.”

With the spotlight have come more questions, and when he was quizzed on his Dayton ties at Friday’s press conference, Urgo — who was sitting next to him — teasingly interrupted:

“Don’t let him get into your head!”

Quisenberry laughed and shook his head.

When it comes to the Dayton Flyers, they’re not in his head.

They are on his shoulder.

They’re a chip the size of a mountain.

About the Author