Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions:

Opening Day is tomorrow, so I decided why not post some picks and predictions. Feel free to email me your picks, including divisions, wildcards, WS picks, league MVP's Cy Young's and ROY's. A sentence or two on your boldest pick and WS pick would be fine along with the picks...


Lets's get it started.. Lee Kunkel picks:
American League

East: Baltimore
Central: Detroit
West: Los Angeles
Wildcard: Tampa, Boston
Champion: Baltimore

National League

East: Washington
Central: St Louis
West: Los Angeles
Wildcard: Milwaukee, Cincinnati
Champion: Washington

World Series: Baltimore over Washington

MVP: (AL) Mike Trout, (NL) Ryan Braun
Cy Young: (AL) David Price, (NL) Jose Fernandez
Rookie of the Year: (AL) Xander Bogaerts, (NL) Billy Hamilton

Reasoning: I'm going with Baltimore in the East. Yes, I'm biased as many of you know, but I've done this for a couple of years now, and I have never taken the O's to win the division. The Wildcard maybe (okay always), but not the division. The East is once again loaded. I could see every team but Toronto winning it, and I think the Jays are still a viable Wild Card contender. Whoever does take the East will be well prepared to make a run in the playoffs.

Detroit should run-away with the Central. Cleveland could push them, and the Royals have a loaded pitching staff, but I still think Detroit has the best roster, and Joe Nathan should sure up the bullpen.

The West is also tough. Oakland has already lost a few starters to injury, and Bartolo Colon left for the Mets. I think the Angels, with a bounce back year from Big Albert and MVP year from Trout, finally get Trout to the playoffs. Texas will be right there too, and Seattle, after a huge offseason, will be in the hunt.

In the NL, I think the East won't be much of a race. Of course I said that last year, and Washington fell apart, but this year their really isn't a team that matches up with them. The Braves were the team to beat a few weeks ago, but the season hasn't even started and their pitching staff has been devastated by injuries. The Marlins are much improved, and Jose Fernandez is a top three pitcher in baseball in my opinion at age 2, but they don't have the experience or depth to compete for the division.

The NL Central will once again be a lot of fun. As you can see from my predictions, the Brewers/Braun are my bold pick of the year. The pitching is good, and I love the Garza addition. They will need to find some depth in the bullpen, and develop a few backend starters, but I think the top of the rotation is due for a big year.

As for Braun, he's my MVP pick. I have no idea if he would actually get selected even if he hit .600, 300 rbi's and 180 homeruns because of the roids and perception from last season, but I think he will have a lot to prove and comes out on fire. He may not be the most liked guy in the league, but let's not forget he is one of the best all around hitters in the sport.

As for the rest of the division, there are a lot of good teams. St Louis is loaded once again. They could be picked to win the World Series every year and you would have a good shot at being correct. I think they may be the best organization in sports all things considered.

Cincinnati lost a few key players, and Aroldis Chapman could be out awhile after that nasty face injury. I like Pittsburgh, but can they pitch that well again? Cutch would be my MVP pick if I couldn't take Braun. This race will be a lot of run, especially if I'm remotely accurate on the Brew Crew.

The west might be the worst race in baseball. The Dodgers have everything after another big spending offseason. They're going to have an all star outfielder on their bench every night. The staff is loaded, the pen is deep, and they found a way to get all that talent out of Hanley Ramirez. Maybe the pitching in San Francisco or Arizona can keep pace for awhile, but the Dodgers should cost into the playoffs with the west wrapped up.

World Series Winner: Baltimore

In my opinion, Baltimore has the best lineup (certainly the most powerful) in all of baseball with Nelson Cruz on board. Davis might not be as good as he was last year, but he will once again be in the MVP discussion. Wieters, Hardy, and Markakis all had slightly down years last season, and Jim Johnson blew too many saves. I like this bullpen a lot, and I think people over rate the closer role. You can find a guy to fill that void as the season goes on. Look a Koji in Boston.

They also have the best defense once Machado comes back (and I think he elevates his game once again this season becoming one the leagues best all around players). The pitching is much improved with Ubaldo on board, and Tillman could be the front end ace they so desperately need. I think Dylan Bundy could have a huge impact on their rotation come July. Maybe not Michael Wacha good, but Gerrit Cole good.

Oh, they're also my favorite team.

What do you think will happen, send me your picks at and ill post them in here. Come late October we can go back and see who got the most right.

Andrew Heiland:

East: Baltimore
West: Texas
Central: Detroit
Wildcard: Tampa, Boston
Champ: Baltimore

East: Washington
West: LA
Central: St Louis
Wildcard: Cincinnati, San Fran
Champion: LA Dodgers

World Series: Baltimore over LA

MVP: Trout, Harper
Cy Young: Wainwright, Price
ROY: Jon Schoop, Kolten Wong

Explanation: Baltimore is the GOAT of the MLB in 2014

Dre Frye:

National League Standings:

East: Nationals
Central: Pirates
West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Cardinals, Padres

Dodgers over Pirates
Nationals over Cardinals

Dodgers over Nationals

American League Standings:

East: Orioles
Central: Tigers
West: Rangers
Wild Card: Rays, Royals

Rangers over Orioles
Rays over Tigers

Rangers over Rays

World Series:

Rangers over Dodgers

Offseason Awards:

AL MVP: Mike Trout
NL MVP: Bryce Harper

AL Cy Young: Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

AL ROY: Jose Abreu
NL ROY: Billy Hamilton

The boldest of the bold prediction:

This is the moment you have been waiting for! Only one other person knows this and that is DA GOAT that is Chris Cappella and it is because I don't want the criticism from my friends, especially Grasso, for saying this because it is monumental.  With all this being said here is the prediction:

This year I believe the 56 game hit streak is broken by someone.  Why do I say this? Because of the fact that it just is "impossible." Last year the Pirates were the best story in baseball and this year, the broken streak will be it easily.  It's easy to point to Miguel Cabrera to do it because I say what is he going to do next. Chris said if it happens it could be Robbie Cano. Point is it will break and I wholeheartedly believe it will be Miggy but it could also be Cano, Trout, Cutch, or even Bryce.

Brandon Stoneburg:

WCs-O's, Red Sox
MVP-Miguel Cabrera
CY-David Price
ROY-Xander Bogaerts

WCs-Nationals, Cardinals
ROY-Billy Hamilton

World Series: Tigers over the Reds

Chas Roth:

American League

East - Red Sox
Central - Tigers
West – Athletics
WC – Rays
WC – Angels

League Champion – Tigers
MVP – Mike Trout
Cy Young – Justin Verlander
ROY – Xander Bogaerts

Trout finally gets the MVP he’s deserved for the last two seasons and pushes the Halos into a playoff spot. Yankees miss the playoffs because of injuries/worst infield in baseball. Rangers and Royals narrowly miss playoff berths.

National League

East – Nationals
Central – Cardinals
West – Diamondbacks
WC – Reds
WC – Dodgers

League Champion – Nationals
MVP – Paul Goldschmidt
Cy Young – Stephen Strasburg
ROY – Oscar Taveras

Much like Trout in the AL Paul Goldschmidt powers the D-Backs to the playoffs and earns himself MVP. Strasburg outduels Kershaw for the Cy Young. Pirates miss Burnett’s veteran leadership, Liriano has a down year and miss out on the playoffs in the final week of the season.

World Series: Tigers over Nationals

Cabrera continues on his otherworldly hitting pace and their top three is too much for Strasburg and Zimmerman. Joe Nathan battens down the weak spot of the Tiger team. Miggy gets his second title and is MVP of the series.

Joe Haefner:

AL EAST: Tampa Bay
AL WEST:Oakland
NL EAST: Washington
NL CENTRAL: Cardinals

Wild Card:
NL: Pittsburgh & Atlanta
AL: Boston & KC

Oakland WINNER IN 7 VS. Cardinals

NL: Cutch

NL: Wacha
AL: Justin Verlander

NL: Taillon
AL: Tanaka

Zach Lash:

AL East- BOS
AL Central- KC
AL West- OAK

NL East- WAS
NL Central- STL
NL West- LAD



AL Champ- BOS
NL Champ- LAD
WS Champ- LAD

AL MVP- Miggy
NL MVP- Bryce Harper

AL Cy Young- Gimme James Shields lol
NL Cy Young- Stephen Strasburg

AL ROY- Boegarts
NL ROY- Billy Hamilton

Matt Heiland:

Division Champs:

Boston Red Sox (AL East)
Detroit Tigers (AL Central)
Texas Rangers (AL West)
Washington Nationals (NL East)
St. Louis Cardinals (NL Central)
Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West)

Wild Cards: New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles
Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants

American League Winner: New York Yankees

National League Winner: St. Louis Cardinals

World Series Champion: St. Louis Cardinals


AL MVP – Mike Trout
NL MVP – Bryce Harper

AL Cy Young – Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young – Jose Fernandez

AL ROY – Xander Boegarts
NL ROY – Archie Bradley

Chris Cappella:

WS: Texas over LA
AL: Texas
Tampa Bay

NL: Nationals
St. Louis
San Diego

MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Jose Fernandez
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
Rookie: Nick castellanos, detroit

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mid-Season Baseball Predictions

July first is here. With that comes the mid-season mark. What a first half it has been. Crush Davis in Baltimore, Puig madness in LA. The resurgence taking place in the Burgh, and in Boston. The fall (and now rise) of the star studded Toronto Blue Jays, and much more.

Now that June is in the rear view mirror, it's time to layout the second half and take a stab at who will be playing in October. Here are the standings as of right now. (Via ESPN)

It all starts in the AL East: It's the best division in baseball top to bottom. All five teams were over .500 a few days ago, and all five will likely be at least a game or two over .500 by the all star break. The Red Sox and Orioles appear to be the front runners, and I really like Tampa Bay (Davis Price back this week). All three teams have a solid lineup, and are getting some solid players back over the next few days/weeks. Baltimore just got Brian Roberts back, they get Nolan Reimold back Tuesday, and Wei-Yin Chen soon after. Boston will get their ace Clay Buchholtz back soon, and have been able to keep Jacoby Ellsbury and Big Papi in the lineup. I'll take Baltimore to take the division. They have the better bullpen, and will be a complete team if they can add a top of the rotation guy at the deadline. With that said, Boston and Tampa will be there up until the last day. I expect two teams to make the playoffs. Toronto won't be far behind, but really dug themselves a deep hole, and I question their pitching. They don't have the bullpen that Baltimore has, or the rotation that Boston and Tampa have. The Yankees injuries are starting to add up. They really need Jeter, Grandy, and any third baseman back ASAP.

The AL Central is much more clear. The Royals will hang around, but this is a two horse race. The Tigers and Indians will battle it out for the division crown, and I don't think the loser will make it. The AL East/Second place West teams are too strong. Ultimately, the Tigers should win this thing. Their lineup might be the best in baseball, and the rotation is stacked (Verlander has been great, and isn't the ace at the moment. That's saying something). They need (!!!!) to find some bullpen help, including a closer. Cleveland may be this years version of the 2012 Orioles. They don't really do anything great, but they come up with clutch hits, and don't blow games. With that said, the Orioles were extremely lucky to make it to the postseason, so I wouldn't bet on the Indians making it.

Remember how the AL West ended last year? Pure craziness. I think were in for more of the same. Oakland and Texas are so solid (and this year they get to beat up on the Astros). Once again this race should come down to the last days of the season. I like Oakland's rotation a ton. They don't have many weaknesses. They also can really hit the ball. Josh Donaldson has been a great find, and they have good balance up and down the lineup. Oakland does this every year. You can never put your finger on how they do it, but they do it. A's take the division. Texas will be in a dog fight for a wildcard spot. The Angels have the talent to make a run and get back into this thing, but they are nine out, and I cant see Oakland or Texas fading. Without a dominant rotation, I don't know if the Angels can make a run at it.

Final AL thoughts: Baltimore wins the East, just ahead of Tampa and Boston (Side note; Tampa and Boston finish tied, leading to the always awesome one game play in.). Detroit takes the Central by 10 games. Once the Tigers get the pen figured out, I believe they pull away. The A's take the West but it comes down to the final game. Rangers get the wildcard.

AL: Oakland, Baltimore, Detroit. WC: Texas, Tampa/Boston (I'll take Boston in the one game playoff, but it would come down to the pitching match up.)

The National League isn't as exciting, but does feature some very good races. Lets start with the NL East. The Braves are certainly the team to beat. They lead the division by 6.5 games, and the second place Nats have been insanely inconsistent. They get Bryce Harper back tomorrow, and that should be huge for the lineup. Washington has two pitchers (Strasburg/Haren) are in the top three for worst run support. If they start hitting, and stay healthy, they can make a run. In the end, the Braves should win this thing. Atlanta has a strong team, and after the loss in the wildcard play in last year, they know the importance of winning the division. The Phillies, Mets and Marlins are all toast.

While the AL East may be the best division top to bottom, the NL Central has the best teams at the top. The Pirates (Yes Pirates) have the best record in baseball led by their strong rotation, and the Cardinals and Reds aren't far behind. Let's start with the Bucs. The losing season drought is over. They're 21 over on July first, and play in the same division as the Cubs and Brewers. No way they don't finish over .500. The next question, can they make the playoffs? I say.... YES. The rotation is very good, and will get Burnett, and Rodriguez back at some point. They have depth, and Gerrit Cole is a stud. I really like the lineup too. Cutch isn't playing bad (.292 average), but he hasn't gone on that tear where he carries the offense for a few weeks like we know hes capable of. Marte gives the team a dimension they haven't had in the past, and Russell Martin has been a great signing, not to mention Pedro Alvarez is playing like a first round pick. Bad news for the Bucs? The Cardinals are simply a better team, in my opinion the best in baseball. The Cardinals pitching staff is just as good, and they have a potent lineup to match. I expect St. Louis to take the division. The Reds will be there all year long too. This race will be great to watch. Only the Nationals stand in the way of the NL Central getting three teams into the playoffs.

In the NL West, it's a pure mess. The Dodgers have been huge underachievers but are only four games out. Yasil Puig has given the team a shot in the arm, and so has Hanley Ramirez. The "first place" D-Backs are only three over, and there aren't too many believes. The Rockies need to get Tulo back, but have a shot. I like their lineup a lot. Cargo is an MVP candidate, and Cuddyer  has been a man on a mission. The defending champs just don't seem to have it this year, but remain only 2.5 out. Any team can win this thing, but I think it will come down to the Dodgers and Rockies. I like being bold, so I'll take the Rocks. That lineup, when healthy is lethal. In that park, their pitching "doesn't really matter." They can out slug anyone.

Final NL thoughts: I can't wait to watch the Central race play out. It should be amazing. It's great to have baseball back in Pittsburgh, and it will be fun to watch that team win that 82nd game, and beyond. The West will be a great race, but don't expect the winner to finish with 90 wins. 85 could get the job done. In the East, the Nats may be the only team that has a chance to steal a wildcard spot from the Central.

NL: St. Louis, Atlanta, Colorado. WC: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

-- Lee Kunkel

-- @Kunkel5

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Coron Williams is transferring to Wake Forest

Coron Williams is transferring to wake Forest. (p/c: Justin Berl)
In some shocking news, Robert Morris shooting guard Coron Williams has deided to transfer from Robert
Morris to Wake Forest. Williams was one of two players to play in all 35 games this season and averaged 24.7 minutes per game, 9.1 points per game, and shot 41.6% from three. All in all, Williams started 71 career games and played in 107 at RMU.

Andrew Chiappazzi of has a more complete write-up on the process, we encourage you to give it a read. Here is a small glimpse:
Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said the machinations for Williams to transfer began two weeks ago, when he said Williams came into his office and told him he'd like to play his last year closer to his Midlothian, Virginia home. Toole said Williams wanted his family more involved, and he'd like to explore a transfer that would also challenge him.
"As much as we'd like to hold him hostage, we can't do that," Toole said.
Robert Morris helped Williams explore his options, and when Wake Forest offered a scholarship, he accepted. Toole said the lure of playing in the ACC also excited Williams.
Williams will be able to play right away for Wake Forest because of the NCAA's fifth-year transfer rule. Student athletes who redshirt for one season and finish their undergraduate course work in three and a half years can transfer immediately to another school for their final year of eligibility.
I'm happy for Coron. He gets to play in the ACC, the big boys of all big boys in college basketball. I do have some reservations about how his game will transfer in the ACC, but that's for another time.

So now RMU has lost Velton Jones, Russell Johnson, and Coron Williams. Those are three of the best players in the history of this program. Besides losing a sniper from beyond the three point line, there are some other parts of Coron's game that we're going to miss. His leadership was going to play a huge role on this team.

Maybe the most underrated part of Coron's game was his ball-handling. Remember who would run the point when Velton was injured and Anthony Myers-Pate needed a breather? That was Coron. Who takes that role this year if Myers-Pate gets hurt and freshman Kavon Stewart struggles? It would be nice to have a security blanket like him. It doesn't sound like Toole is expecting any more departures but who knows if something changes. I wouldn't be shocked to hear if Mike McFadden or Lijah Thompson didn't come back.

Robert Morris loved to knock it down from three last season. I already thought this team was going to run more through the big's this year anyway but now it doesn't have much of a choice. Don't get me wrong, the likes of Karvel Anderson and Lucky Jones (and even Myers-Pate can knock it down when he has his confidence) will get RMU going from thre, but expect to see Mike McFadden play a bigger role on this team and for freshman Jeremiah Worthem to play a huge role right away.

Speaking of Karvel, here's some good news!

--Chris Cappella

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Night Links:

It was a busy weekend in the sports world...and an even busier Monday.

Mike Freeman from CBS Sports on why Matt Barkley ended the "stay or go?" argument for college athletes. Link:

The Big 10 is already done with the "Leaders"and "Legends" divisions. Moving to a more natural east and west. Link:

Jason Collins became to first "big four" athlete to come out while actively playing. His story. Link:

Great documentary detailing RMU's upset win over UK a month back was released today by NEC FrontRow. Link:

Tim Tebow was released by the New York Jets. Link:

We also had the NFL draft, NBA playoff action, and the NHL season come to an end, not to mention some intriguing soccer going on across the pond. Oh yea, the MLB is heating up (except the Angels, they are still ice cold) as we approach summer!..... Enjoy all the action!

--Lee Kunkel

Sunday, April 28, 2013

NBA Playoffs

Sorry folks, been super busy with graduation approaching and finals starting up but I finally got some time to post my picks for the playoffs and thoughts on the first round.

Miami is the clear favorite to
repeat as Champs.
Heat over Bucks-- I promise I picked the Heat in this one. There really isn't much more to say on this one. Milwaukee had no shot in this series. Lebron James dominated from start to finish, and now the Heat will get to rest up a bit. A few days off will do them lots of good. Wade missed game four with a knee injury but should be back for the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Nets over Chicago-- I must admit I had Brooklyn in this one. After rolling in game one I looked like a genius but Chicago has won three in a row including a sweep in the Windy City. The Nets return home looking to starve off elimination, and I think they will. Problem for Brooklyn, I don't see the Bulls losing game six at home. Look for Chicago to move on and set up an epic Eastern Conference semifinals with the Heat. Underlying story line....Will D-Rose make an epic come back in an effort to knock out the champs? Just something to keep an eye on.

Indiana over Atlanta-- There isn't a whole lot going on here. I took the Pacers in five, and I'm sticking to it. If they can win game four in Atlanta this one is all over. No way the Pacers lose at home. They are a good team at home, and the Hawks have always struggled on the road in the playoffs.

New York over Boston-- This has been a fun series. I predicted the Knicks in seven. Boston has had a chance in every game but just couldn't get the job done in the second half in games one, two, and three! Thanks to the Jet, they won game four in OT. Can they stay alive and get a win in Madison Square Garden now? I don't think so. Knicks wrap it up in five.

In the East I have Miami over Carmelo and the Knicks in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Can KD carry the load without
Russell Westbrook?
OKC over Houston-- The story of this series is without doubt the injury to Russell Westbrook. He has a knee injury that will cost the rest of the playoffs. I have always been critical of Westbrook, but they need him to win the title. Mr. Durant showed us all they should still be considered a threat. He was remarkable game three. I think Harden has enough in him to win game four and send the series back to OKC, but it won't last any longer than that.

Clippers over Grizzles-- This has been a great battle. The home team has won every game so far. I expect that to continue and the Clips to pull it out in seven. Chris Paul has already won one game for LA. His game winner in game one may be the difference.

Denver over Golden State-- I had the Nuggets winning this one in seven but I'm really second guessing that now. The Warriors have been incredible all series long. They lost game one and David Lee, and everyone wrote them off but the play of Steph Curry and Harrison Barnes has elevated them. Denver is great at home, and I think the winner of game six in Oakland will decide who wins the series. If the Nuggets win it, they close it out at home game seven.

Spurs over Lakers-- I called this sweep from the get-go. The Lakers lost Kobe Bryant, and had no shot in this series. After Manu came out and scored 18 points in 19 minutes game one, the writing was on the wall. The Lakes lost a few more key players to injury, and it was all downhill from there. The Spurs are getting healthy and will now get some rest as they await the Denver/Golden State winner. Pop has to be happy with where his team is at.

The Thunder were the favorite to win the west but the Russell Westbrook injury changed everything. I think the Spurs become the team to beat. Also, I know the Nuggets are down 3-1 right now, but if they can win that game six on the road they can win the series, and I like there chances going forward.

--Lee Kunkel

Friday, March 29, 2013

Buzz: Has Toole interviewed for the Siena job.... twice?

Andy Toole is a beloved figure at Robert Morris, that much I know for sure. Lee has told me he would give $10 of every paycheck of his every month for the next two years to have him stay. I've suggested a lemonade stand to raise money as well. With all that on the line, Toole is going to be a serious candidate at some big-time job openings this off-season.

Siena has been the name most floated around when talking about Toole. Siena has seemed to narrow the list down to three, putting Toole, Loyola (MD) coach Jimmy Patsos, and VCU associate head coach Mike Rhoades as the other two main candidates. Toole has reportedly visited Siena more than once, writes Andrew Chiappazzi:
It does not appear that Toole was offered the job Thursday, but that doesn't mean he won't get an offer. Mark Singelais of the Albany Times-Union, one of the main papers covering Siena, wrote just a short while ago that it appears Loyola (MD) coach Jimmy Patsos and VCU associate head coach Mike Rhoades are Siena's other prime candidates. Singelais wrote that both will visit at some point next week, and that Siena will likely make a decision before the Final Four.

Robert Morris, meanwhile, is prepared to put together an aggressive package to try to keep Toole. This process could come down to a couple factors. The first is what Toole is looking for out of a coaching situation. The MAAC has a better conference RPI than the NEC and a better overall reputation, but in nearly every year it's still a one-bid league. That said, Siena has a larger backing than Robert Morris. Siena plays in a multi-purpose arena in downtown Albany, one that's funded by more than just the college, and Siena has more financial resources available.
This is only the beginning in what will be a long off-season full of rumors, folks. According to Andrew, Toole met with Siena officials last week to gauge his interest and again Wednesday for a visit.

The fact that Toole went back to Siena for a second time is not surprising, but maybe a little worrying. Toole was born in New York and his interest in coaching in the New York region would just seem natural. Siena is a good program who has hit a bit of a slump lately.

RMU commit Britton Lee has already tweeted that if Toole leaves he would ask for his release from Robert Morris. I don't think it would end there, either. I'm sure the rest of the recruiting class would leave as well, including three-star recruits Kavon Stewart and Jeremiah Worthem. Besides that, I'd fear that guys like Lucky Jones and Stephan Hawkins would follow him and Mike McFadden, who has an option to not return to the team this year and graduate, would not return as well.

That's not to say RMU would be hindered for this upcoming season. The talent they have with Anthony Myers-Pate, Coron Williams, Karvel Anderson, and Lijah Thompson could still win an NEC title, but any future coach would face a lot of pressure to bring the recruiting class Toole did.

Of course, this is all worst case scenario. As we've said many times, it comes down to
Is this the last we've seen of Andy Toole at RMU?
(p/c: Justin Berl)
preference. President Greg Dell'Omo is going to do everything in his power to keep Toole. How do I know this? He did the same thing with coach Mike Rice, who he gave a raise to but left only because a job surprisingly opened up at Rutgers and couldn't turn down a great deal.

Would Siena be a better job than Robert Morris? Depends on what your definition of "better" is. In terms of facilities and budget, yes, it would be. If Toole wants to win now and reach the NCAA tournament, it's a no-brainer that he'd stay at RMU. If I had to guess, Toole gets a raise close to the $450K range at RMU and gets an offer at Siena that's closer to $650K. That could be tough to turn down

I honestly believe Toole does stay and spends one more year at RMU if schools like Siena are his best option. Siena is a two year rebuilding process minimum while RMU is in a win-now mode. If Toole stays and makes the NCAA tournament I'd be shocked if he didn't get an offer from an A-10 or Big East school. If he goes to Siena, it'll be another rebuilding process. Is the extra money worth the lack of success? That's up to Toole and his family.

Feel free to comment and let me know if you're interested in the lemonade stand. No Huddle has kept it no secret that we would love to keep coach Toole. As your new president of the colonial crazies, feel free to add fundraiser ideas to help the athletic department.

--Chris Cappella

Update: I've been told my figures are way off. RMU will likely give Toole a raise in the 200-250K range while Siena would likely go no higher than 300-350K. We'll just say I was right in principle.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Now what?

The ride has finally came to its end. The 2012-2013 RMU men's basketball season is over, with the Colonials falling at Providence 77-68. The team finished 24-11, 14-4 in conference, falling in the second round of the NEC tournament to Mount St. Mary's. Of course that led to the defending national champion University of Kentucky Wildcats playing a rare road game in Moon Twp, PA where the Colonials shocked the nation and upset Coach Cal's gang. All that is in the past though. What lies ahead? A lot of question marks, and program altering answers.

(Needs to be said: Thank you to the senior class of Velton Jones, Russell Johnson, Treadwell Lewis and Shane Sweigart, specifically Jones and Johnson. They both had incredible careers at RMU, and put the program on the map with their performances vs Villanova and the win over Kentucky.)

First off, how big was the win over Kentucky? Sure this program has had a ton of success over the past few years; 24 wins (2012-13), 26 (2011-12), 18 (2010-11), 23 (2009-10), 24 (2008-09), 26 (2007-08). That's impressive, but NOTHING gave them the exposure that last Tuesday's win provided. National TV, court storming, epic game. It had it all. Now what will it do for the program?

Can RMU keep its head man?
It all starts up top, and that leads us to question number two, can RMU keep Andy Toole? Toole will be a hot name when it comes to young coaching candidates this off season. I'm not here to discuss where or what it will take RMU to keep him; Chris does that here. If he stays RMU will keep their great recruiting class, continue to build upward, and gets closer to becoming a mid major power. He leaves, and the athletic department will have to find another coach to keep the bus rolling. Two points that I do need to make; one, I will not be in anyway upset at Andy if he moves on. He will get paid a lot more money, move to a program with more resources and likely a better conference. Maybe the biggest reason? He has done his job here at RMU. Sure, he never won an NEC title and never reached the NCAA tournament, but he won 25-26-18 games a year, took the team to two NEC title games, and in the year he didn't reach the title, got the biggest win in program history over UK in the NIT. Job well done. Second, just because he moves on doesn't mean RMU can't continue to grow. Look at VCU. Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant both moved on to bigger programs, and it was Shaka Smart who got VCU over the top. But that's enough about that. If Toole moves on, we can look at potential replacements but until then, lets focus on the program with him in the picture.

RMU will miss Jones and Johnson
but the team is in good hands.
One way to tell you have a great program? When you lose big time seniors/players, and come back just as strong. Sure RMU will miss Jones and Johnson, but the team will still be a major contender in the NEC next year and will be one of the better mid major teams in the country.

Ant Myers-Pate will replace Jones as the #1 point guard, and there will be depth behind him with a great freshman class coming in (we will get to that in a bit). Coron Williams and Karvel Anderson will be seniors, and will give RMU the two best shooters in the conference. To build on that, Anderson will only get better. The last few weeks of the season he became more than just a spot up three point shooter. Not to mention he won't be playing with a broken wrist (we will get to the injuries in a bit too). David Appolon returns as well. If Appolon develops more of an offensive game, he could become Andy Toole's (I hope) most versatile player. He is a tremendous athlete, and maybe the teams best perimeter defender (ask All American PG D.J. Cooper).

A healthy Lijah Thompson will help
RMU immensely next year
Then there are the forwards. This is where I see RMU becoming a better team. Russell Johnson will be very hard to replace, but Andy Toole (again, I REALLY hope) won't have to rely on one player to do it. Lucky Jones might be the teams best player next season. He is a great athlete, and really came into his own this year. He is one step away from becoming a first team NEC caliber player. Mike McFadden should be back for his senior year. He battled knee injuries all season, and it really bothered him. McFadden was extremely explosive in the NIT when he had ample time to rest before games. If he can stay healthy, watch out. He improved his free throw shooting this season, and showed flashes of being a go-to low post threat. The difference maker could be senior Lijah Thompson. Thompson missed the whole season with a torn ACL, but is making good progress and should be back next year. With him in the fold, RMU has a true center, and a guy who can control the glass, along with protect the rim (something the team sorely missed once Vaughn Morgan left the program). Stephan Hawkins should be back, along with Keith Armstrong to provide good depth. Hawkins is a raw prospect but with a full season under his belt, could become a big threat. Armstrong battled injuries all year, and never got into the mix as a legit option for Andy Toole. That should change next year as he will have a full off season to improve his game.

Speaking of injuries, can this team really have the luck (or should I say BAD luck) that it did this year going forward? Thompson missed the whole year, Anderson played through a broken wrist for over a month, Velton Jones got a head injury, and missed time with a nasty shoulder injury (and played with it for multiple games), Armstrong had a foot injury that cost him 2/3 of the year and his whole off season, McFadden battled bad knee injuries all season, Johnson battled back injuries early in the season, and Myers Pate had a nasty ankle injury in December (take a breath). Yikes! I'm sure they will battle injuries next year, after all every team will, but will there be that many?

Worthem could be a huge get for Andy Toole.
Assuming Andy sticks around (by the way, I think RMU does everything in its power to do so) he will bring in a GREAT recruiting class, maybe his best ever. Toole is known around the country as a great recruiter and this class is evidence of that. Kavon Stewart highlights the class. He is a 3 star prospect from nationally ranked Hudson Catholic in New Jersey. Stewart is a pure passing point guard much like Ant Myers-Pate. According to, he got offers from Cincinnati, UMASS, Seton Hall, Rutgers while gaining interest from other big schools. Britton Lee and Jeremiah Worthem come in from Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School in Philadelphia. Their school is one of the best in the state, ranked in the top 10 for much of the season. Lee is more of a scoring guard and could be an explosive scorer for Andy Toole. He can really attack the basket. Both Lee and Stewart are known for their lock down D, something all guards need when playing at RMU. Worthem could be the star of the class. He is a 6'6'' bouncy forward who can score from all over the floor. According to rivals he received offers from Temple and La Salle, and got interest from Pitt and Villanova. He is also a 3 star. Rounding out the class is 6'7'' forward Emmanuel Omogbo from Princeton Day Academy in Maryland. He is a bit more unknown, but adds nice size down the road. Max Preps list him as RMU's top recruit (though I lean more toward Rivals).

With that class, the team should look something like this assuming nobody transfers and the recruits remain committed.

1) Myers Pate- Stewart/Lee (One may red shirt)
2) Anderson-Williams-Appolon
3) Jones-Worthem
4) McFadden-Hawkins-Omogbo
5) Thompson-Armstrong

Myers Pate, Anderson, Williams, McFadden, and Thompson will all be seniors. Andy Toole will certainly have options.

Some other questions that RMU will have to answer: Can they upgrade the facilities? The Chuck isn't exactly state of the art. Can they attract big time programs to play in Moon? Tough to get teams like Ohio (forget about UK) to schedule a series. What about the NEC? The conference is losing two big time programs in Monmouth and Quinnipiac, might the Colonials look for an upgrade too?

There is no doubt that RMU has had tons of success over the past six seasons. My ultimate question is this....Was the Kentucky win the start of RMU's next big step in its quest to become a great mid major basketball program, or was it the climax of this era of RMU hoops? Only time will tell.

--Lee Kunkel