The Real City Game: Robert Morris at Duquesne

Robert Morris (2-9) vs. Duquesne (9-2)
When: December 19th, 2pm
Where: A.J. Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
KenPom: RMU 282, Duquesne 136
KenPom Line: Duquesne -12
Link: A-10 Network, ESPN 970 AM (iHeartRadio APP)
Storyline: Robert Morris looks to build on their second win of the season as they head into Pittsburgh to take on local rival Duquesne. The Dukes –off to their best start in years at 9-2–will look to stop a five game losing streak to RMU. Andy Toole has never lost to the Dukes as the head coach at Robert Morris.

The crosstown rivals will renew their yearly matchup Saturday, and for the first time in awhile, the Dukes have a majority of the momentum heading into the contest. With that said, Toole’s bunch will have a lot of confidence heading into the game, and this might be the spark Robert Morris needs to get it going with conference play right around the corner.

The Colonials won their second game of the season Thursday night over Lehigh. They had stretches of excellence, but also struggled at times. Staying locked in for a full 40 minutes still seems like the groups achilles heel.

Getting to know the Dukes: First off, let me say this. I don’t like Duquesne. At all. Yuckkkkk. I haven’t experienced a loss to them since my freshman year way back in 2009. I’ve loved every minute of this longggggg win streak. If that is going to remain the case, RMU is going to have to play their best game of the season, because the Dukes are playing some damn good ball.

The Dukes offense is lethal.
(Ken Pom)

They’ve won three in a row, and have started the season 9-2. They also have one of the top offensive attacks in college basketball. KenPom gives them the 5th best effective field goal percentage in the country. They are led by two splendid guards in Derrick Colter and Micah Mason. Mason is shooting 44 percent from three and is one of the most lethal shooters in the country. He’s done a nice job expanding his game this season and has become a more well rounded scorer. He averages 16.5 in this his senior year. Colter is the man that runs the show. A gritty guard, he can fill it up, dish it out, and isn’t afraid to take big shots. I mentioned I don’t like the Dukes (Yuckkkkkk), but I love the way Colter plays. He leads the team with 18.5 points-per-game and still dishes out over four assists per-game.

I mentioned that RMU has won five straight against Duquesne. This senior class has never won a game vs RMU (or Pitt for that matter). They won’t want to finish their career winless against their local rival’s. That’s a lot of pressure, but it also is a little extra motivation.

Keys to the game: Focus should not be an issue, nor should energy, in a big rivalry game like this for Robert Morris. A quick start would be beneficial for a young team who will still be down two men (don’t expect to see Aaron Tate and Jordan Lester until the start of NEC play). It’ll be fascinating to see what Toole does with his starting lineup. He’s messed around with it a few times this year (including bringing Pryor off the bench last game).

The offense would benefit from Elijah Minnie picking up his scoring. The sophomore has been up-and-down for much of the year, and has only scored double digits once in the last four games. Robert Morris needs him to provide offense on a nightly basis. Minnie has the talent to be a force every single night, and I would expect him to come out aggressive.

As a team against Lehigh, RMU shot 9-20 from downtown (45 percent). That is much better than their 30 percent mark as a team for the season. This is an offense that relies heavily on the three point shot. They will need to make closer to 40 percent as a team if the offense is going to turn it around. Hopefully Thursday was a sign of things to come.

When it comes down to it we have a really good Duquesne offense going up against a Colonials defense that really struggles at times. Robert Morris is going to have to keep up, because I can’t see them holding the Dukes to less than 75-80 points. Can Rodney Pryor score 30-plus? Can Minnie come up with a 25 point outing? Can one of the freshmen Matty McConnell or Isiah Still score in the high teens? Can Billy Giles control the paint and the glass (he’s been excellent this season)?

RMU will have to get the answer “yes” to a few of those questions to have a chance, but I sure as hell won’t count Andy Toole out against a program that he owns.

Prediction: RMU 83, Duquesne 81

–Lee Kunkel


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