Robert Morris has to play smarter, tougher for a win

One thing Andy Toole likes to say from time to time is “I don’t think you realize how hard it is to win basketball games at the collegiate level.” He says it to the media, team, strangers at Dunkin Donuts, etc.

But there’s a lot of truth to that. RMU is sitting at 0-4 for the first time since 2002. It’s no time to panic, but a win would be a pretty sweet feeling and could spark some good play as the schedule briefly lightens. Standing in the way of a win is New Mexico State, a program that lost to Kansas in the NCAA tournament last season. The teams will square off tonight at 9:30 p.m.

To win tonight (and moving forward), Robert Morris has to stop beating themselves. They have an offensive turnover percentage of 24.4 percent, which is 335th in the country. When one-fourth of your possessions are turnovers, that makes life extremely difficult. RMU is already going to have their defensive shortcomings, namely low post defense without Aaron Tate, so avoiding easy buckets from turnovers is going to be paramount moving forward.

Exhibit A was Sunday’s game at Air Force. Even in the midst of playing an awful second half, RMU is within striking distance with 5:46 remaining in the game. Then, Air Force gets three consecutive steals for six easy points. A close, six point game was stretched to 12 in a matter of a minute.

RMU might be able to get away with shit like that against Fairleigh Dickinson, but against Penn, Cincinnati, Bucknell and Air Force it’s just not going to work. RMU’s 2014-15 turnover percentage of 19.9 percent wasn’t great but is still something that they can overcome. That’s a good percentage to target moving forward.

RMU has a ton of other ugly numbers, but the offensive rebounding percentage is the one that needs to improve the most. I don’t expect this group to be a great rebounding team, but through four games they’ve corralled just 22.4 percent of available misses. 312th in the country.

Andy Toole once told me he believes rebounding is ten percent positioning and 90 percent effort. If that’s the case, RMU better start working a little harder to get some of their misses. Offensive rebounding is a good way to get extra possessions, which is especially valuable if the Colonials are going to waste offense with turnovers.

This team has actually been a solid defensive rebounding team. I’m pleasantly surprised. But things aren’t going to get better until the turnovers and offensive rebounding problems are solved. IF Robert Morris can get some extra possessions of their own, instead of giving them to opponents, the wins will follow. This is a talented team. Despite doing so much bad, they’ve still been in position to win three of their four games.

Win number one isn’t far behind.

–Chris Cappella


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