Robert Morris makes their first roadtrip of the conference season, starting tonight at LIU Brooklyn. The Blackbirds are 7-6 on the year, went 1-1 last weekend and are favored by KenPom to win by four points.
LIU’s three-headed attack isn’t quite what RMU’s monster of Marcquise Reed, Lucky Jones and Rodney Pryor were, but forward Jerome Frink (16.8 ppg), SG Martin Hermannsson (15.5 ppg) and PG Aakim Saintil (13.6 ppg) have been excellent this year.
Frink is the alpha dog — think of what Jeremiah Worthem was going to be, and that’s what Frink is. He uses his big, 6-foot-7, 230 pound frame to get good looks with his back to the basket and rebound. At the same time, you have to keep your hand up at the three point line: Frink is shooting 34 percent from downtown this year.
Still, Hermannsson and Saintil have been good, if not a little unexpected, surprises. Hermannsson is building off a strong freshman year, establishing himself as one of the better shooters in the conference. He’s gotten good enough that I don’t have to look up how to spell his last name anymore. He’s shooting 42.5 percent from three this year.
Saintil was a complete unknown coming into the year. Many, myself included, thought finding a point guard might hold a talented LIU team back. Instead, Saintil is one of the biggest reasons the Blackbirds are winning. While not a *great* shooter, he gets to the line a lot, is a pesky defender (34th best steal percentage in the country) and has great court vision. He’s been as good as any point guard in the conference.
If there’s one weakness of some key LIU players, it’s their foul rates. Frink, Saintil, Nura Zanna, Trevin Woods, Trevon Woods and Glen Feindanga all have pretty high fouls committed per 40 minute splits.
Biggest strength: causing problems on defense
LIU has the 52nd-best turnover percentage in the country. They have a few heady defenders with quick hands at the top, some versatile small forwards and some intimidating big men. Between the athleticism and high IQ, the turnovers can pour it on.
This is bad news for Robert Morris, who has the 15th-worst turnover percentage in the entire country.
Something to take advantage of: the three point line
Robert Morris could control this game from the three point line. LIU doesn’t shoot the three ball well (outside of Hermannsson) and doesn’t defend the three well either. Teams have shot 37.5 percent from three this year against LIU.
If there was ever a game for Rodney Pryor and Matty McConnell to find it from three at the same time for 40 minutes, this would be it.
Robert Morris desperately needs a win, but this is going to be a tough matchup. LIU has two guys who can beat you down low (Frink, Zanna), and elite rim defender (Zanna again) and one of the best backcourts in the league.
One bright spot for the Colonials through two conference games has been Kavon Stewart. In his last two games, he’s 12-19 from the floor, 3-4 from three and has dished out 13 assists to seven turnovers. RMU needs to take advantage of his solid play. It feels like they need one more player to assert themselves as another go-to guy.