So that wasn’t your typical NEC Thursday, huh?
Quick recap. RMU earned a much needed victory over CCSU at the Sewall Center, the University is building a new state of the art facility to open in January 2019, Andy Toole got a new contract extension, Isiah Still and Billy Giles missed the contest with injury, and Still will be getting an MRI today.
Deep breath, exhale.
Let’s start with the game. RMU really needed this win. Mentioned in the preview how tough the schedule was after this weekend with three road games at Mount, LIU and SFPA. Getting both wins at home vs bottom tier teams is vital. One down, one to go.
Chris hits you with a recap and injury updated but here are my quick thoughts. Kavon Stewart remains the most important member of the team. When he is off the court, they aren’t very good. When he’s on, the offense has some flow, the defense is tenacious, and the team is just overall better. That’s the value in a senior floor general. While Still remains the best offensive weapon, Stewart is the heart and soul. The Colonials moved to 2-0 (74 points in each game!) without Still, the teams best offensive weapon.
Matty McConnell continues to find his shot, and that is a GREAT sign for RMU. As my man Chris noted, McConnel since his brother’s game winner vs the NY Knicks. Matty McConnell before Jan. 11: -25-95 FG (24%); 11-57 3-pt (19%). In the three games since: -13-30 FG (43%); 12-28 3-pt (42%). There probably isn’t a direct correlation here, but McConnell has 15, 12, 12 while shooting it well. That is HUGEEEEE for a team that is desperate for offense.
Nice, win. Now need to take care of business against Bryant, who is 2-5 in the NEC, and has lost four of its last five.
Extended: Toole got a one year extension yesterday, lining up with the announcement of the new UPMC Events Center (more of that shortly). While it may not look like much, and certainly won’t stop other programs for inquiring about Toole, it again shows his commitment to build a midmajor power at Robert Morris. It also shows the administrations commitment to Toole. While last year was a tough season, and this season hasn’t gone as smoothly as one would like, there is little doubt that Toole remains one of the best young coaches in college basketball.
Facility: New arena! There have been a ton of rumors and some little confirmation from the university that a new facility was in the works, but we got all the details yesterday (the Gazette broke the story Wednesday, but this was much more detailed).
Here is the official release from RMU with photos and video of the proposed facility.
Some thoughts: First off…..LETS GO! Imagine what Toole can do with this facility on the recruiting trail? This will be by far the best facility in the NEC, and one of the better ones in the whole Northeast region. It’s the type of move that can take RMU from NEC power to midmajor power. I’ve heard a lot of people within the administration talk about Gonzaga, and getting to that level as the “ultimate goal.” Mike Rice mentioned it multiple times. This facility, along with Toole at the helm, are the type of moves you need to make if you aspire to reach those heights.
The new facility will include new locker rooms, new practice facilities, and of course, “People’s Court.” As we can see, a new live above court scoreboard is on its way, and a facility that looks simply amazing.
Two (and more importantly): This is great for the university. Anyone that says this is all about the men’s basketball team is blind and has an agenda. The facility will be used for MUCH more, and creates a relationship with some big time regional powers such as UPMC, People’s PNC and more. “With a new venue of this quality and size, RMU cements its status as a university on the rise,” said RMU President Chris Howard. “Not only is it a significant regional asset, it’s a facility worthy of the success for our athletics programs and reflective of our status as a nationally ranked university. This is a great day for the Colonial Nation.”
It was funded primarily by donations and sponsors, not student tuition. The project includes a new recreational center (coming from someone who worked for Campus Rec for four years, this was needed more then a new basketball arena!). The Sewall Center is over 30 years old. It’s far past outdated. Also, there is this. “As part of a broader strategic collaboration with RMU, UPMC will become the exclusive provider of sports medicine to the university’s 16 NCAA Division I sports programs, and the UPMC Health Plan will administer the university’s employees’ health insurance benefits. UPMC already provides health care to RMU students at UPMC MyHealth@School, an on-campus health and wellness center that opened in the fall.”
Fantastic news for Robert Morris University, not just the Robert Morris Colonials.