THE BRONX - Hopes are high for the hoops squad at Fordham University this season.

A poll of collegiate coaches picked the Rams to finish in fourth place in the A-10 conference. Coach Dereck Whittenburg will likely rely on a core of upperclassmen to stay competitive this year.

Five senior players return to the squad this year. Star seniors Bryant Dunston, Marcus Stout and Sebastian Green figure to play a big part in whether Fordham wins or loses this season.

The Rams were able to defeat the boys from the University of District Columbia 64-54 in an exhibition game over the weekend. Regular play begins November 9 against Columbia University in Manhattan.