Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gameday: RMU at St. Francis (PA)

Robert Morris will be on the road at St. Francis (PA) tonight. You can catch the game on starting at seven as the Colonials look to keep pace with the top of the NEC and win their fifth straight game. Andrew Chiappazzi of has some interesting tidbits on regaining the team regaining it's focus after a tough start to conference play.
But it hasn't been just a physical adjustment for RMU in practice. Toole instituted what he calls day-to-day contracts, a device designed to narrow his team's focus to taking care of tasks that day and not worry about anything else. 
"They're all in my head. I'm GM, director of player personnel, team president. Not owner. I'm in charge of all the personnel decisions," Toole said with a smile on his face. "Those contracts are in my head and during the course of practice I figure out if we want to renegotiate and renew those things or do we want to just terminate." 
Termination, at least in the metaphor, means being banished from team drills for a practice. Players still go through drills on the side and individual workouts, but for at least one session, they're not part of the rotation. The coaching staff is on the same arrangement, as the Colonials push to not only be physically prepared for each game and weekend series, but mentally prepared as well.
I love it. Toole voiced his concern even before the season started about his team playing consistently, and it has shown with numerous win streaks and losing streaks and losses to teams that shouldn't have happened. Toole sent the hammer down after Central Connecticut State by suspending Lucky Jones for a game, which sent a message to the team that everyone needs to step it up, and it has paid off with four straight wins. 

One thing we need to realize is this isn't your traditional Toole-led Colonial squad. They're an average defensive team and have proven that all year. However, this team can score. Karvel Anderson is as good of a shooter in the NEC as you can find, as is Coron Williams. Everyone knows what Velton Jones is about; he can score nearly at will and has shown how great a facilitator he can be. In the frontcourt, Russell Johnson is really starting to turn it on and Lucky Jones is averaging 17 points per game in the recent win streak. Heck, even true freshman Stephen Hawkins is beginning to look more and more comfortable out there and is going to be a force in years to come. 

In no way am I implying Robert Morris can give up 80 points and expect to win like Bryant or Long Island might be able to, but more than once this year we've seen this team just get scorching hot from the field. I confidently believe RMU can put up 70-80 points a game. When have you ever been able to say that?

St. Francis is 1-16 but can't be taken lightly. They've lost five conference games (two in overtime) by an average of nine points, with that number being skewed with a 20 point loss to Bryant. Their only win came against Central Connecticut State. Shutting down Umar Shannon and Earl Brown is a must.

Prediction: RMU 76
Bryant 61

--Chris Cappella

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