Saturday, February 2, 2013

Game Day: Robert Morris at Long Island

The Robert Morris Colonials (14-8, 6-2) will look for a Brooklyn split as they take on the Long Island Blackbirds (12-9, 5-3) at 3pm on ESPNU. As nearly everyone is aware, this game is a rematch of last years NEC championship game. The Blackbirds are winners of their last six and are coming off an 82-62 wacking of St. Francis PA Thursday and the Colonials are coming off a ten point loss to St. Francis Brooklyn. There's lots of good stuff from Andrew Chiappazzi on, but he brings up an especially good point the last two paragraphs:
Perhaps not surprisingly, Robert Morris also received strong performances in those games from Velton Jones. In the two wins, Jones averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 turnovers per contest. In the losses, Jones averaged 14.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 3 turnovers per contest. 
One man shouldn't mean the difference. LIU, after all, will be without Julian Boyd, who has tortured RMU in the past. Whether Jones can or can't play shouldn't determine a Robert Morris win or loss. The only determining factor should be the one that will hold true for all of February: If Robert Morris plays intense, smart defense and limits mistakes, the odds of winning any game in the NEC have to be in their favor.
I was critical of the crew after Thursday nights showing, but like I said, it'll all be forgotten with a huge win today on the road against a hot LIU team. How can you not be pumped for this game? 

The health of Velton jones is going to play a huge role, who's suffering from a shoulder injury and missed nearly all of Thursday's game. Like Andrew said though, LIU is without Julian Boyd, the reigning conference MVP and a man who always gives RMU problems. I thought Anthony Myers-Pate played better than anyone on Thursday. Myers-Pate is going to have to create opportunities for everyone else too, because the offense was anemic without Jones. Coron Williams just simply needs to knock down shots. If he goes for five points (what he's averaging the last five games), this game could get out of hand. Karvel Anderson might be the best shooter on the court, but don't expect any 19-0 runs.

It comes down to defense and rebounding. RMU probably won't win the battle on the glass against LIU (or really anyone) but a few offensive rebounds could go a long way. Mike McFadden can't have another day of zero rebounds. Defensively, containing the beast that is Jamal Olasewere will be a handful. If I had a vote, Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson would be my pick for NEC player of the year, but Olasewere would be a close second. Point guard Jason Brickman is one of the best playmakers in the country, let alone the NEC, and guard CJ Garner is really finding his shooting stroke. 

My prediction: not enough stops on defense results in a 80-73 loss. 

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