Monday, January 21, 2013

Is Robert Morris Figuring it out?

Everyone knows what the expectations were for the Robert Morris squad, so after two surprising home conference losses to Bryant and CCSU, fans may have began to at least scratch their heads on what exactly was going on.

Saturday's 88-75 win over Quinnipiac gave the Colonials four wins in a row and has them tied for second in the NEC's Andrew Chiappazzi has some notes on the recent win streak and had a lot to say about Russell Johnson.

Mired in a season-long slump, Johnson has erupted the last four games. Johnson is averaging 12.5 points per game, six rebounds per game, 3.25 assists per game, and 2.5 steals per game. It's about as strong of an all-around performance as one can find on the Colonials.  
So what got into Johnson?
"I don't know if something got into him. It just seems like he's back to normal," Toole said. "Maybe something got out of Russell." 
Johnson didn't offer much of an explanation. He said he's remained confident in his abilities, but rather than focus on mistakes, he's taken an optimistic approach to his play on the court. 
"Not worrying about the negative things or making mistakes," he said. "I just try to block that out and keep playing positive."
Johnson had a career high 22 points (leaving him four away from 1,000) last Saturday against Quinnipiac thanks to his 12-13 effort from the stripe. He seems to be finding his own right now, and for a team that doesn't get to the stripe a whole lot, no one has gotten to the line more than him. Russ is a senior on the team and with Velton Jones banged up he needs to take a big leadership role on the court. Johnson has a unique game; he's big but you have to respect his three ball and his quick first step to the rim. I'm glad he's starting to find his niche. 

Along with Johnson, I'm encouraged with how back-up point guard Anthony Myers-Pate is beginning to play. I talked with Anthony early in the season and the first thing he told me was how he needs his shot to fall, which it is doing more of recently. I like how Myers-Pate is being more aggressive getting to the tin and not settling for long jump shots. While it stunk that Velton Jones was in foul trouble against Arkansas and has been banged up throughout the year, Myers-Pate has seen some big minutes and that can only help the team down the road.

Feel free to leave some comments with your thoughts. 

--Chris Cappella

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