Recap: Close but no cigar

Robert Morris lost to Columbia 78-71. It was a good, close game decided by some three pointers and fee throws. Definitely closer than the seven points the final shows. 1-9 is very, very frustrating but not the end of the world. Columbia: good at the sport of college basketball. Can shoot the three well. I’ll continue to try and find the right words below:

-First, the ending: Robert Morris played a pretty solid second half on the road against a top-100 team who has an outside chance to win the Ivy. If this would have ended as a blowout, I would not have been surprised.

But alas, there was a chance. A VERY good chance, actually. Robert Morris was down 74-71 with about 29 seconds left, then got a steal! Pryor pulled up from three but missed strong. Columbia made some free throws, RMU missed some threes, and that’s all she wrote.

-Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Colonials had to overcome a first half deficit. They were down by 13 at one point but cut it to ten by half. Fighting out of a double-digit deficit every game is pretty tough, I imagine.

“It’s the same story every game,” Toole said in his postgame interview. “We just kind of conserve, conserve, conserve.”

So, yes, RMU has to start playing a full 40 minutes. We’re a third of the way through the season now. There are no more excuses. Start to adjust, or just continue losing.

-The box score won’t show it, but this was a much better defensive effort, especially in the second half. Some late free throws padded it, but RMU was able to consistently hold Columbia, one of the country’s most efficient offenses, to three and four minute spells without scoring.

RMU’s biggest defensive brain fart came at a pretty awful time. Down 64-61 with 1:45 left, Columbia’s Maodo Lo was able to drain a three to go up six. It wasn’t the knockout blow, but it was a huge punch to the gut.

Lo’s three pointer brings up a much larger point. Coming into the game, Lo has taken 78 three pointers to 58 field goals this season. Clearly, he is a three point shooter. So what happens in this game? He gets off 15 threes, connecting on eight of them. This is a troubling trend. You can’t let a three point shooter get 15 shots off. You just can’t. His 26 points cost this team a win.

Columbia as a team: 13-30 from three. That’s what they do, folks, and RMU did little to slow it.

-Rodney Pryor: still good at basketball. 27 points on 8-16 shooting. He went 10-11 from the line. He led the team with eight rebounds. He had two assists. It’s hard to do much more than that. I love how Pryor was aggressive and switched up his offensive game. He went back to his bread and butter a little more, which is that mid-range game. He got to the tin and took more fee throws because of it. It didn’t show in the win/loss column, but more performances like that should get RMU some wins.

-Isaiah Still might have been a little gun shy this afternoon. Against Oakland, he shot a combined 3-17 from the floor and 5-10 from the line. Today, he went 2-6 from the floor and 2-2 from the line. To build off of that, Still missed a three with 15:27 left in the game and then didn’t shoot until there was 37 seconds remaining.

That’s going to be the thing to watch with some of these young guys. Confidence is a fragile thing, and it wavers easily, especially for young players. RMU needed Still’s aggression going to the basket and crashing the boards. I’m sure that’s something that will be corrected.

-Billy Giles continues to be the best big man on the floor at all times. 14 points and four boards in 26 minutes. Always in the right place at the right time.

-Weird game for Elijah Minnie. 11 points on 5-14 shooting, including 1-9 from three. It should be pointed out (and it was by color man Jim Duzyk) that he probably should get credit with 14 points on 2-10 shooting from three. Regardless, it’s not the overarching point. When Minnie isn’t feeling it from three, there has to be some sort of adjustment. I’m not sure what it is, because he doesn’t have a back to the basket game and only sometimes can beat defenders off the dribble, but there has to be another gear. This is a moment where I’m glad I’m not a coach. I’d like to the coach of a good team, like North Carolina instead.

-Daily “please come back soon Aaron Tate” post. Andre Frederick continues his wild regression, posting a minus 13 in nine minutes. He had zero points, one board, one block, two fouls and a turnover. He just doesn’t get “it” defensively.

-My son Kavon Stewart was pretty awful for the first 28 minutes of the game and excellent the last 12. RMU made their second half run on the heels of Stewart getting to the rim, finishing with confidence and letting Pryor do his thing.

Of course, Pryor is the only one who has proven he can play a complete 40 minutes. Other guys go on spurts of awesomeness followed by turnovers and fouls and missed shots and laziness and… well, you get the point. Win number two won’t come until there’s a full 40 from a majority of the team.

A not-so-very-good Lehigh team enters the Chuck on Thursday. I like the chances, but we’ll talk about that more later this week. That’s all for now.

–Chris Cappella


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