Preview: Robert Morris at Richmond

Game 4: Robert Morris (0-3) at Richmond (1-1)
When: Sunday, November 29th, 1:30pm
Where: Robins Center, Richmond, Virginia
KenPom: RMU 315, Richmond 96
KenPom line: Richmond -16
Link: A-10 Network
Storyline: Robert Morris continues their road trip in Richmond Va as they take on the Spiders out of the A-10. This will be the first of four games in the Barclays Classic. RMU will head to Kansas State next, and then play a mini four game tournament starting Friday, where they open against Hampton (Game played at Towson University).

Spider Bite: Richmond comes into this game 1-1 with a narrow three point win over VMI and and a three point loss to Old Dominion. Both were home games. The Spiders, picked to finish 8th in the preseason A-10 standings, are paced by ShawnDre’ Jones who is averaging 27 points-per-game through the team’s first two games. 6-9 forward T.J. Cline is averaging 16.5 per-game. He could be a handful, as we’ve seen the Colonials struggle with size early in the season.

Crash the glass: One area Robert Morris should have a nice advantage? On the glass. The Colonials have been pretty solid grabbing boards on both ends of the floor, and Richmond has not. Robert Morris ranks 100th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and 141st defensively. Both above average. Richmond meanwhile is 326th on the offensive boards and 280th defensively. These stats can be flawed this early in the season, but it’s something to track.

Tip of the Iceberg: While Robert Morris lost Wednesday night, maybe –just maybe– a new weapon emerged. Last year, freshman Matty McConnell got to campus with a lot of expectations. He was starting right away, he had the last name McConnell, and he was one of the more prolific scorers in the WPIAL out of high school. Then he dislocated his shooting shoulder in the second game of the season, and the rest of the season was a struggle.
After offseason shoulder surgery and an ankle injury in the preseason that forced McConnell to miss a lot of practice time, maybe we all saw the McConnell we were hoping for Wednesday night. Now a sophomore, McConnell scored 13 points off the bench, going 3-5 from downtown, 5-7 overall. It was one of his best games as a collegiate. A start of things to come? Andy Toole sure hopes so. His added three point shooting would do wonders for a struggling offense.

Growth Process: The youth movement at Robert Morris is a real thing, and something that will be frustrating at times. The team is just so young. “I don’t understand why we feel sorry for ourselves. It’s a sign of immaturity. That’s when we get ourselves in trouble,” Toole said after the loss Wednesday night. Toole hit the nail on the head. There are times RMU commits a mental error on one end of the court (say a self inflicted travel that turns it over….) and they let them affect their play on the other end (….which leads to a missed assignment and easy bucket). The talent is evident when watching the likes of Clive Allen, Dachon Burke, Braden Burke, Isaiah Still, and McConnell…but all are underclassmen. Patience will be key.

The Cappella Act: CtC’s own Chris Cappella will be in the building for this contest. Expect him to bring the energy. Mount St. Mary’s pulled off a nice win over George Mason Friday night in Fairfax Va. Could the NEC over Va A-10 schools trend continue? I trust Cappella to give the boys the juice they need. RMU 68-67.

–Lee Kunkel
–@Kunkel5

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