Based off of KenPom’s rankings, RMU’s 67-66 win over Towson on Saturday was their best non-conference win since a 2013 victory over Ohio.
With no layups left on the schedule, it certainly is encouraging knowing Robert Morris is going to grab a few non-conference victories and can beat some of the better mid-major schools. The Colonials really scrapped in their upset of Towson.
As Lee noted in his postgame comments, Kavon Stewart was really in control. His shooting numbers don’t make for the prettiest stat line, but he made great decisions, pushed the offense when he had to, made a major steal late and banked in a dagger three pointer.
The big guys really set the tone for the attitude of this team. They’re all scrappers. Aaron Tate continued his phenomenal season with seven boards, five of which came on the offensive glass. He also shot 4-5 from the field, including a super nifty right-handed hook off the post.
RMU, somewhat inexplicably, has not been very good on the defensive glass of late but the bigs make up for it on the offensive glass and defensive intensity.
If you add up all of that, plus Isaiah Still’s great performance, it results in a really awesome win.
After last season’s losing, Saturday was a nice reminder that winning is fun. But it remains an anomaly if the Colonials can’t build off of it. Enter Youngstown State.
Personally, I am so sick of losing to Youngstown State. They’re in the Horizon League, which is certainly a step up from the NEC, but they’ve been a bottom-tier Horizon League team.
I’m intrigued by what Colonials team shows up. The Penguins aren’t going to waltz in and lay down for RMU. They’ve beaten the Colonials in back-to-back seasons. They opened the season with a really nice win against Akron. Only one player – forward Devin Haygood – sees significant minutes as an underclassman. The rest of the rotation is made up of juniors and seniors.
It would be really beneficial to jump out to a nice lead and set the tone. It certainly doesn’t guarantee anything – RMU was up 20-12 against Richmond before surrendering a huge run – but we saw how much a cushion helped against Hampton.
Youngstown just will not beat themselves. They’re a good rebounding team and have one of the lowest turnover percentages in college hoops. They’re also a pretty good offensive team. If RMU can’t find their offense, which seems like a guarantee at some point, they can’t let it affect their defense. That’s my biggest worry.
RMU will have to play smart and tough. This is an incredibly intriguing game.
Stat of the day: RMU is 2-0 when getting out-rebounded by opponents and 0-5 when winning the rebounding battle.
Stat of the day part II: Kavon Stewart needs two more games of double digit points, five points and five assists to tie Tony Lee for the school record for that stat line.
Braden Burke update: Just relaying some info I got. Take it as you will… Braden Burke’s timeline is a little messy. He did not play in RMU’s win over Towson. From what I understand through the radio feed, Burke took a shot to the face during the Hampton victory and suffered some small facial fractures. I’m not sure if he’ll play with a mask or will sit a few more games. If they let him heal fully, it could be anywhere from a two to six week timeline.