Thursday, February 14, 2013

Game Day: Robert Morris at Quinnipiac

Tonight, the Robert Morris Colonials (17-8, 9-3) will travel to Hamden, Connecticut to take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats (10-13, 6-5). Both teams are on a bit of a hot streak, as RMU is winners of nine of their last ten and QU has won four of their last five. Tip is at 7:00 an you can catch the game on As always, Andrew Chiappazzi of has a solid pre-game article on the site, here is some of it:
This six game stretch won't be without obstacles. The first came this weekend, though it left Robert Morris unscathed. Two games were cancelled because of a huge winter storm that dumped feet of snow on the Northeast. Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart, and Bryant all haven't played since last Thursday. Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut State had their Saturday game pushed to February 25, and the same happened for Bryant and Sacred Heart. It means those four teams, including the league leading Bryant Bulldogs, wrap up the season with five games in ten days.
"It definitely can have an effect on some of the teams involved. I think everyone understands how important each and every game is," Toole said. "I don't know if it'll have too much of an effect, but anything that can break your routine sometimes can throw you off the slightest bit."
There are six games left in the regular season. Six. It's nice to finally see the team getting healthy coming down the stretch run. Anthony Myers-Pate was a no-go Saturday with concussion symptoms but passed his impact test beforehand, so I would assume that was more of a precaution and he will be good to play tonight. Velton Jones is still hindered by his right shoulder injury but has had almost a week to rest that up and still played 30+ minutes Saturday. Other than that, Mike McFadden has rejoined the team and will give the guys a much-needed low post scorer and Keith Armstrong continues to shake off the rust coming back from his Achilles injury and is proving that he can play valuable minutes when needed.

Before jumping into tonight's match-up, I have a few thoughts on Saturday's overtime win against Wagner. RMU probably played their best half of basketball all season in that game, and it was encouraging to see Coron Williams get going and Russell Johnson and Lucky Jones continue their outstanding play. The second half was a different story, as we saw the colonials continue to have problems breaking the full-court press, which apparently has been one of the few problems in the Toole era. Russell Johnson got off a clean look at the end of regulation for the win but it did not go. RMU played solid in OT despite having little momentum and no point guard after Velton Jones fouled out. Free throws were key to icing the game, and the team escaped with a much needed win. 

The team might have blown a big lead, but this was probably my second favorite win of the year after the LIU game. I've complained more than once about RMU not having to scrap out a win all year, but they did exactly that in this one. Their backs were against the wall and they managed to pull out a win. Wagner made some really tough shots to climb back into this one but I was proud of the guys for finishing off their effort. Also, good job to the 1,200 in attendance who stood up and got loud when it mattered most.

With all that being said, tonight's game scares me. I've said all along I think RMU trips up one more time before the Bryant match-up in the second to last game of the season, which isn't the worse thing that could happen (RMU owns at least a one game cushion and a tiebreaker with LIU, Wagner, and Sacred Heart). Tom Moore's squad needs this win bad, as they're fighting for position in the middle of the NEC. Quinnipiac is a very good rebounding team and was without starting point guard Dave Johnson in the last match-up, an 87-75 RMU victory. The Bobcats combination of Azotam and Hearst in the front court are a handful offensively and on the boards, an area that the Colonials struggle in. 

Prediction: RMU trips up but gets bailed out by Mount St. Mary's, who beats Bryant. QU 79, RMU 74 

--Chris Cappella

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