Conrad Stephens: American hero?

I was thinking the other day: do we think Conrad Stephens’ Ring of Honor ceremony should be held before the last home game or before next year’s opener? And where should we put the statue?

The junior walk-on forward was able to spark a rare 64-58 win Saturday over Fairliegh Dickinson, who was previously undefeated in conference play. Stephens had 13 points and six boards in 21 minutes off the bench, playing, in large part, because Rodney Pryor and Andre Frederick were out with concussions.

“Conrad was huge,” head coach Andy Toole said in his postgame interview. “The way he played today is the way he practices. He was awesome; in the right spot, kept it simple, finished around the rim. Conrad got guys excited and gave us energy. We’ve been looking for that energy out of our team all year.”

Stephens actually went a perfect 6-6 from the field, with his only miss of the day coming from the free throw line.

He was impressive in a host of ways, especially showing a very Aaron Tate-esque way of being in the right spots at the right time offensively. He also grabbed six rebounds, something Andre Frederick has done just twice in his entire career. RMU is the worst rebounding team in the conference and one of the worst in the country. If he’s going to be a guy who can grab boards, that alone is worth a spot in the rotation.

This was a game Robert Morris could have easily lost. No Rodney Pryor? They needed someone to step up in his absence. Stephens was able to do that.

The most impressive, and possibly important aspect to his game, was the energy it gave the team. The crowd was going wild every time he touched the ball and even crazier when he scored. As we’ve seen with this team, and teams of the past, RMU plays with its most energy when things are going well offensively. As flawed as that may be, it’s the truth.

Last season, a Tate tip-in at the buzzer over lowly Central Connecticut State with no Lucky Jones helped turn the season around. The Colonials ripped off wins in seven of their last eight before losing to Duke in the NCAA tournament. Can the “Conrad game” do the same?

We’ll have to see what happens next. Does Stephens take more of Frederick’s minutes? Can he stay out of foul trouble? Can he sustain some sort of offensive success and will the team continue to feed off of him as an energy source?

All I know is that was a fun time. If it turns out to be a flash in the pan, we can still make a statue.

–Chris Cappella
@C_Cappella

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