Opening weekend of college hoops as come and gone. Robert Morris played in two games. They lost both.
This early into the season, it’s not about the results. It’s about the process. We saw two different versions of Robert Morris in two games.
The Penn game was disappointing in a lot of ways. Penn is a good team that returned a majority of their core from last season. They added Caleb Wood and Matt McDonald into the mix, which should help things.
Penn also will have a hard time competing for the Ivy League title with the likes of Yale (who just beat Washington without their best player) and Princeton (opening Monday against BYU) and Harvard. Robert Morris lost to Penn, at home, by 17 points. That shouldn’t happen.
The opener was a lot like every game from last season. The Colonials shot 3-17 from three and 34 percent from the field. They averaged a terrible .72 points-per-possession. They turned the ball over 16 times and only forced 13. They rebounded well, but not well enough to forge a significant advantage.
We are going to see this version of RMU more than anyone wants to care to admit.
Last night, Robert Morris traveled to DePaul. They played great! They lost a back and forth game 78-72. Although they never held a lead in the game, they showed a lot of guts to keep things close after a brutal start.
We saw the Robert Morris team that I thought would show up for Penn. They weren’t great from three but finished 7-20 as a team. Isiah Still, who had to spend a lot of energy guarding Eli Cain, had a career-high 26 points and grabbed four boards. The Colonials rebounded really well. Aaron Tate and Billy Giles both grabbed eight rebounds. Dachon Burke had three offensive rebounds of his own.
DePaul has been a bottom feeder in the Big East, but they’re still in the Big East. This was a nice measuring stick game. Some other observations:
-Rest in peace to the 2-3 zone? The Colonials played man-to-man defense in both games. It didn’t look bad! RMU did a good job keeping Penn and DePaul off the three point line.
Teams are probably going to continue shooting well from the floor until conference play. My biggest defensive takeaway was Robert Morris really has no rim protector. DePaul wasn’t afraid to attack the rim.
-If the NEC held a dunk contest, I would bet on someone on Robert Morris. There are athletes everywhere! Dachon Burke had a thunderous slam to open the second half. Lorenzen Wright Jr. can move around. So can Clive Allen.
I love the energy Dachon Burke brings. He defends like he has two red bulls in him at all times.
-The other Burke, Braden Burke, is going to be a monster. His stat line in the DePaul game (2-4 shooting, 1 rebound) is a little deceiving. He already looks so polished offensively. He has a nice jump hook with his back to the basket.
Braden also doesn’t seem to be the most fleet of foot guy. This is something to watch when he’s defending in pick and roll situations.
Because I’m a huge geek, I’m going to continue to watch pick and roll defense. There was some indecision with the big men about hedging, switching, helping, etc. it happened to Roberto Mantovani too.
-Jordan Lester started both games. He didn’t play much after picking up two quick fouls against DePaul. Toole is going to continue mixing and matching with different rotations. The starting lineup of Lester and Stewart has its positives but neither of them can shoot all too well. The game, after all, is about getting buckets.
-Clive Allen has some slickness to him. He saw 15 minutes of action against DePaul.
I could probably go on but that’s all for now! RMU plays at Bucknell on Wednesday.