Monday, March 11, 2013

Looking ahead

Saturday: The Robert Morris Colonials had their March Madness dreams snatched in a crushing 69-60 loss at the hands of the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers.
It was certainly tough to watch. I’m glad posted this recent article on the Mountaineers gameplan and how they planned on slowing down the Colonials offense. Here’s a sneak peak:
In order to beat the top seed on the road, Christian devised a plan that naturally centered around Velton Jones.

The core of that plan? Don't let him pass. Make the redshirt senior guard, who had single-handedly beaten teams in clutch moments in the past, try to shoot his team to another Northeast Conference title.
"He's such a good player in terms of getting everyone shots. So we really just tried to limit his ability to create assists, quite honestly. We wanted to make him beat us scoring the ball," Christian said after Mount St. Mary's 69-60 upset win. "We were determined to make him shoot ten or more times and not allow him to create for others."
The Mount dared Velton Jones to make shots Saturd-
ay (photo credit: Justin Berl).
Christian found that when Jones shot ten or more times in a game, Robert Morris was just 4-5, compared to 19-4 overall. The plan worked well, as Jones had only one assist and was a paltry 2-for-17 from the field.

It certainly is an odd plan when you think about all the times Velton has come up big in big moments, but it worked. He went 2-of-17 from the field, which has to be the worst shooting game of his life. The ball movement was the worst I had seen it this year and now we have a better understanding why.

There still was the luck factor, though. I am not saying Mount St. Mary’s got lucky because they didn’t; they certainly were the best team on the floor Saturday. But there is a little luck that goes into it, right? I mean, how many times is Velton Jones going to have that bad of a shooting day? If we played that game 100 times how many times does Velton miss 15-of-17 shots? The team overall went 5-of-19 from three and Karvel Anderson, Coron Williams, and Russell Johnson, and Velton Jones had none of them.
I don’t mean to bash Anthony Myers-Pate because I’m a big fan of his and his play Saturday (and the second half of the year, really) was outstanding, but when your backup point guard is the best player on the floor for your team, it’s not a winning formula.
The near future: The news only gets better throughout the article. Robert Morris’ season is not over as they will get a chance to play in the NIT tournament. Playing in the NIT, especially as a mid-major, is nothing to be ashamed of and gives RMU a better opportunity to win some games. Obviously, it’ll be disappointing to see them in that rather than the big dance but it is what it is at this point.
32 teams make the NIT tournament and I would expect RMU to be around a seven seed and could get an opportunity to get revenge on Arkansas or Xavier. Other possibilities include Ole Miss, Maryland, Alabama, and Providence.
Sharp shooter Karvel Anderson will be back to lead
a dangerous RMU squad (p/c: Justin Berl). 
Looking ahead: When it is all said and done, the careers of Velton Jones and Russell Johnson will be over. Velton might go down as the best player in program history and Russell will go down as one of the best rebounders in program history who probably didn’t tap in to enough of his talent, whether that’s a fair statement or not. Anthony Myers-Pate, Lucky Jones, Karvel Anderson, and Coron Williams, will return as will center Lijah Thompson, who missed all of this season with a torn ACL. No one is quite sure what lies ahead of Mike McFadden, as he is eligible to come back for another season.
RMU also brings in possibly its best recruiting class ever, headlined by highly-touted point guard Kavon Stewart from Hudson Catholic in New Jersey. The lefty is a bit undersized but is a pure pass-first point guard and a lot of recruiting experts feel like Robert Morris “stole” Stewart away from some bigger schools.
6’6” wing player Jeremiah Worthem hails from Philadelphia and is drawing some comparisons to current NEC player of the Year Jamal Olasewere. Worthem’s strengths are still when he has his back to the basket but is beginning to develop a solid inside-out game. Worthem had offers from La Salle, Temple, Wagner, and Stony Brook.
Head coach Andy Toole also snagged shooting guard Britton Lee and power forward Emmanuel Omogbo.
If RMU would have won the NEC and made the NCAA tournament, I think the future of head coach Andy Toole would be much more up in the air than it is now. Toole is one of college basketball’s great minds but has been unable to get over the hump the last three years. The rumor is that Siena is itching for Toole and could increase his salary by nearly triple what it is now.
I believe that if it comes down to it RMU will make a significant offer to keep Toole and I’m not sure Toole jumps ship for a school like Siena in a one-bid MAAC league. If he does leave, I believe he’ll definitely stay on the east coast and would jump to a conference like the A-10.
Feel free to post your thoughts on anything basketball-related.
--Chris Cappella

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