RMU survives late surge, tops Knights

For a game recap, check out Omari Sankofa over at the Post Gazette here.

Boy, that would have been a terrible loss. FDU ended the game on a 16-3 run, and was about 0.01 away from an 18-3 run and a win at the buzzer. Thankfully, the shot was late, and RMU got their second straight win.

“Obviously did not close the game out as well as we would want to or need to, but thankfully we were able to do enough to get the win,” Andy Toole said. RMU is now 7-2 in the month of February.

A few thoughts:

Free Throws: RMU went 1-6 in the last minute. Yikes. 13 of 26 for the game, 50 percent….YIKES. That’s how you cough up a big lead late on your home court. With that said, they still scored 77 points and looked dominate at times, as they picked up a key win over the defending NEC tournament champs.

Prime Rotation: Looks like Andy Toole has settled on his rotation the rest of the way, and I think he’s nailed it. RMU is basically going with four guard/wings around one big at all times. It looks like Aaron Tate will start, and Branden Burke will back him up. Kavon Stewart, Clive Allen, Matty McConnell handle the ball, and Isaiah Still, Lorenzen Wright Jr and Dachon Burke will play on the wing.

These lineups are fast, versatile, defend at a very high level, and give RMU’s offense its best chance at success. “The four guards has been effective for us. Guys are getting a feel for what they need to do on both sides of the ball,” Toole said. This is a pretty big change from early in the season, when RMU almost always had two bigs on the floor at the same time.

Lockdown: Dachon Burke is going to win a NEC DPOY award, maybe more than one. Watch this, and smile. He is awesome and can really guard all over the floor. He also really thrives in transition offense. If he can master his jumper, he is going to be a fantastic “three and D” wing.

The Road Ahead: As of now, RMU is tied with Bryant and Sacred Heart, who both lost Thursday night, for the 6/7/8 seed. Robert Morris plays SHU Saturday in the final game EVER at the Chuck (unless some wild things happen in the NEC tournament). With a win, RMU will AT LEAST earn the 7 seed. If CCSU, who beat St. Francis Brooklyn last night, can upset Bryant, RMU would be the 6 seed. Lose, and RMU will be the 8 seed. As some of you may know, no 8 seed has ever won against the number one seed in NEC tournament play. Saturday is a must win.

Senior Night: Robert Morris will honor a fews seniors prior to the tip, and they deserve a huge crowd and applause for all they have done for the program. Aaron Tate and Kavon Stewart were incredible members of the team and program over their four years at Robert Morris. Both were major cogs in the Crazy 8 squad, and of course the NEC championship team two years ago. Conrad Stephens went from walk-on fan favorite, to a guy that got real minutes. He worked his ass off behind the scenes and earned a scholarship. Players like him don’t get a ton of time in the spotlight, but it’s impossible to build a program without them. Lastly, Billy Giles came to RMU and gave the Colonials a reliable low post option, who Chris fell in love with. Giles provided stability when the program lost a bunch of transfers and filled in admirably when Aaron Tate went out for the season with an injury.

Thanks Seniors.

–Lee Kunkel


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