Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Preview: RMU in search of first win

Robert Morris (0-4) at New Mexico State (3-1)
When: Tuesday November 24th, 9:30pm
Where: Pan American Center, Las Cruces, New Mexico
KenPom: RMU 220, NMST 145
KenPom Line: NMST -8
Link: ESPN Radio 970 AM (iHeart radio App), ESPN3
Storyline: Robert Morris will look for their first win of the season in unfamiliar territory as they travel to New Mexico to take on the Aggies, game two of the four game Air Force Classic.

Getting to know New Mexico State: As we know, the Colonials have had their fair share of success in the NEC the past eight seasons. Being one of the best teams in a one bid league has led the Colonials to contention for an NCAA tournament bid every season in recent memory. New Mexico State has enjoyed similar success in the WAC. They have made the NCAA tournament four straight seasons.

Once again, the Aggies are in position to win the WAC and are expected to contend for another NCAA bid. 6-9 sophomore Pascal Siakam will be a handful for RMU. He leads the team in scoring at 24.5 points-per-game and will be a tough cover for the undermanned RMU frontline. Guard Ian Baker is also having a nice season, scoring 14.5 per-game while shooting 44 percent from three.

Colonial Keys: As the record would indicate, things have not gone RMU's way this season. They fell behind big against Penn and Bucknell and couldn't quite dig out of the hole. Cincinnati beat them up, and they ran out of gas in the high altitude at Air Force. There has been some good --Rodney Pryor has been excellent, and Isiah Still gets better every game-- and some bad, as injuries, youth and lackadaisical play have cost them.

On offense, they need to find someone to help Pryor out. The senior is averaging 21 points-per-game and shooting 47 percent from the field. He's carried RMU offensively and at times is their only option. 

Who can step up?

With Aaron Tate and Matty McConnell still banged up (neither played vs Air Force) other options must emerge. Elijah Minnie and Kavon Stewart are two guys that need to pick their play up. Those two are only averaging 15 points combined. It is a small sample size, but RMU is only scoring 98 points-per-100 possessions. That's 261st in the country. Cutting down the turnovers would help. Robert Morris is giving up the ball on 24 percent (!!!!!!) of their possessions right now. That is TERRIBLE. 335th in the country bad. Gotta take care of the ball.

Defensively, RMU has looked pretty good at times, and pretty bad at other times (great analyst, I know). Seriously though, you can tell this unit will be pretty good on that end once they gel and the new guys get some time under their belt. There are still some breakdowns that have cost them, but when they get back in transition, they have been tough to break down outside of the Cincinnati game. This won't come together over night, but by late-December, early January I think this unit will be very good on that side of the ball.

Keys to Victory: This will be a very difficult game to win. On paper, New Mexico State will probably end up being the second best team RMU plays all season behind Cincinnati. Throw in the fact the game is a quick turnaround from Sunday's game at Air Force (playing at high altitude no less) and you have one big uphill battle. 

New Mexico State possess great size, especially for a mid-major. They are similar to a more skilled version of last years St. Francis Brooklyn team. They are also incredibly tough to beat in their home building, though they have dropped one game there against a very good New Mexico team.

First off, RMU will have to shoot the ball well from three. Can Minnie step out and hit shots to open up the paint? Can RMU effectively take care of the ball and get good shots? Lastly, RMU will have to get back in transition and limit the easy buckets for the Aggies. With the massive size advantage, you would expect them to get their share of offensive rebounds (they are one of the better rebounding teams in the country), so it will be key to make them work for every bucket.

The good news is there are some very winnable games after this one. A good performance would go a long way. Last season RMU was 2-6 at one point, and finished 4-8 in the nonconferece play. If they can get healthy, they can still easily best those marks.

--Lee Kunkel

Robert Morris has to play smarter, tougher for a win

One thing Andy Toole likes to say from time to time is "I don't think you realize how hard it is to win basketball games at the collegiate level." He says it to the media, team, strangers at Dunkin Donuts, etc.

But there's a lot of truth to that. RMU is sitting at 0-4 for the first time since 2002. It's no time to panic, but a win would be a pretty sweet feeling and could spark some good play as the schedule briefly lightens. Standing in the way of a win is New Mexico State, a program that lost to Kansas in the NCAA tournament last season. The teams will square off tonight at 9:30 p.m.

To win tonight (and moving forward), Robert Morris has to stop beating themselves. They have an offensive turnover percentage of 24.4 percent, which is 335th in the country. When one-fourth of your possessions are turnovers, that makes life extremely difficult. RMU is already going to have their defensive shortcomings, namely low post defense without Aaron Tate, so avoiding easy buckets from turnovers is going to be paramount moving forward.

Exhibit A was Sunday's game at Air Force. Even in the midst of playing an awful second half, RMU is within striking distance with 5:46 remaining in the game. Then, Air Force gets three consecutive steals for six easy points. A close, six point game was stretched to 12 in a matter of a minute.

RMU might be able to get away with shit like that against Fairleigh Dickinson, but against Penn, Cincinnati, Bucknell and Air Force it's just not going to work. RMU's 2014-15 turnover percentage of 19.9 percent wasn't great but is still something that they can overcome. That's a good percentage to target moving forward.

RMU has a ton of other ugly numbers, but the offensive rebounding percentage is the one that needs to improve the most. I don't expect this group to be a great rebounding team, but through four games they've corralled just 22.4 percent of available misses. 312th in the country.

Andy Toole once told me he believes rebounding is ten percent positioning and 90 percent effort. If that's the case, RMU better start working a little harder to get some of their misses. Offensive rebounding is a good way to get extra possessions, which is especially valuable if the Colonials are going to waste offense with turnovers.

This team has actually been a solid defensive rebounding team. I'm pleasantly surprised. But things aren't going to get better until the turnovers and offensive rebounding problems are solved. IF Robert Morris can get some extra possessions of their own, instead of giving them to opponents, the wins will follow. This is a talented team. Despite doing so much bad, they've still been in position to win three of their four games.

Win number one isn't far behind.

--Chris Cappella

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Recap: Losing sucks

RMU fell to 0-4 with a 64-52 loss to Air Force. Bad! The Colonials actually looked really good for a large portion of this game. The defense looked great; life was a living hell from Air Force trying to get any good looks at the rim. It was fun!

RMU had a nice lead at one point in the second half. With 17:33 to go in the game Air Force took a timeout to settle themselves after an Elijah Minnie three ball stretched the lead to 30-23. From there, things did not go so well. It was a slobber of turnovers and exhaustion and missed jumpers and no whistles and really everything that could have gone wrong did.

-Rodney Pryor man, I love you. He had 25 & 10 on 9-18 shooting. My calculator tells me that's 48 percent of RMU's point total! It was an assault of three point jumpers in everyone's grill. Like when you play street ball and hit a shot and yell "Facebook!" that was Pryor every shot. So, so impressive.

-The only other guy who really showed up was Isaiah Still, who is a complete baller. He finished 3-9 from the field and 2-5 from three, but it was an aesthetically pleasing 3-9. Didn't force anything, hit open shots when they were there. I like you, Isaiah Still.

-Any lineup that doesn't have Minnie or Still on the floor, sans Matty McConnell and Aaron Tate (out with injuries), makes me so, so uncomfortable. RMU really went cold in the second half starting with a weird Lester-Stewart-Pryor-Giles-Frederick lineup.

-Want to know what the nail in the coffin was? Turnovers! RMU was down just six with 5:46 left, then had the ball stolen on three consecutive possessions for layups. Frustrating indeed! Things were going so well too! RMU's offensive turnover percentage of 24 percent was 320th in the country going into the game. Hard to beat teams when you beat yourself, folks.

-RMU scored just 17 points in the final 14:05 of the game. My calculator again tells me that that's not very good.

-I have no idea if Aaron Tate was dressed for the game but he didn't play. Not mad about it, but please get healthy and come back soon. Related: Air Force had 17 offensive rebounds.

-RMU did not get the benefit of a lot of whistles in the second half, which did not help things. Not like this was the most aggressive offensive game ever played, but there probably should have been a few more free throw attempts in there. It is what it is.

-First bad game for Elijah Minnie. 10 points on 4-13 shooting, including 1-6 from three. Moving forward, I hope he adjusts a little more as the game goes on and uses his Michael Jordan Space Jam arms to get some better looks at the rim. He also still ran into eight rebounds, so it wasn't all bad.

-Overall I have no idea what else to say. 17 turnovers is way too many, but it wasn't the sole reason for the loss. Robert Morris just couldn't find the bucket when Rodney Pryor wasn't shooting. Frustrating, indeed. It doesn't get easier with New Mexico State up next. Losing a winnable game sucks. Have I mentioned I hate losing?

Until next time.

--Chris Cappella

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Preview: looking for a win

Robert Morris (0-3) at Air Force (2-1)
When: Sunday, Nov. 22 at 4:00 p.m.
Where: Klune Arena, Colorado Springs, Colorado
KenPom: RMU 208, Air Force 256
KenPom Line: Air Force -2
Link: ESPN Radio 970 AM (iHeart radio App), goairforcefalcons.com (unsure if there will be a paywall)
Storyline: Robert Morris looks to get their first win of the season when they tip off the Air Force classic. Air Force, a member of the Mountain West Conference, is looking to improve on a 2014-15 campaign where they went 14-17 and lost in the quarterfinals of their conference tournament.
Getting to know the Falcons: So here we are, game four of the season and Robert Morris is still without a win. This is the first time the Colonials are 0-3 since 2010, the same year they lost an overtime game to Villanova in the NCAA tournament. So, not all is lost.

Air Force is winners of their last two after dropping their opening contest to Southern Illinois. The Falcons last win, versus Mississippi Valley State, was a pretty underwhelming one. They’ll look to bounce back offensively and defensively.

Air Force is led by shooting guard Trevor Lyons, who is looking to make the proverbial “jump” his sophomore season. Lyons is a good shooter -- he shot 44 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three last season -- but now looks to carry the load on a team that lost a few of their top threats.

He’s answered the bell early, averaging 18.3 points in about 37 minutes of action. He’s also been very good defensively, averaging three steals through three games. RMU will have to be aware of Lyons all game.

You could argue the Falcons offense goes through power forward Hayden Graham. Graham is second on the team in scoring (16 ppg) first in rebounds (8.3) and first in assists (3.7). Graham is a pretty awful three point shooter, but he did shoot an outstanding 61 percent from the floor last season.

In iso situations, Graham is going to make the lives of all RMU forwards a living hell. RMU will have to try and do what a 2-3 zone is supposed to do best: clog the middle of the floor. If the colonials brings it defensively, it should be difficult for Graham, or anyone else, to work inside out offensively, which is what they want to do.

When Graham does get the ball, I’m interested to see what RMU does. Junior guard Zach Kocur shot 47.0 percent from three last season, 12th best in the country last season. Sophomore guard Matt Mooney shot 37.8 percent. As stated before, Lyons was at 41.8 percent from downtown. None of those guys are shooting well now, but it’s only a matter of time.

The larger point in all this is Robert Morris is going to get a nice test of discipline on defense, which has obviously been a big problem this year. RMU has given up 102.8 points-per-100-possessions in three games, which ranks them in the bottom third of the country. Opponents have a 60.1 percent effective field goal percentage this year, which is almost dead-last in college basketball.

The mission: make it difficult to get it to Graham, and when he does get it, NEVER LEAVE THE CORNER SHOOTER. Ever. Don’t do it. RMU will have to roll the dice with Andre Frederick, Billy Giles and a little of Aaron Tate one-on-one defensively. Tate played just five minutes against Bucknell Wednesday, and I wouldn’t expect to see a whole lot of him Sunday.

On the contrary, RMU should be able to get buckets against the Falcons. They’re not a bad defensive team (opponents have an effective shooting percentage of just 43.3 percent) but they don’t force turnovers and they don’t rebound well. RMU will have to take care of the ball, but if they do, I don’t see how Air Force will have an answer for guys like Kavon Stewart, Rodney Pryor and Elijah Minnie.

One final thing: No one wants to talk about it, but the March version of RMU will thank the much younger, much stupider November version if they can win these next two games against Air Force and New Mexico State. It would go a long way to potentially getting off the 16 seed line.

Prediction: RMU wins their next five.

Outlook: I feel good. Really good. RMU 77, Air Force 71

--Chris Cappella

Thursday, November 19, 2015

0-3 start.....time to panic?

So Robert Morris is 0-3, lost a heart breaker to Penn, got their brains beat in by Cincinnati, and lost another tough game --bur deserved-- against Bucknell.

It's not the start Colonial fans and players --and I'm sure Andy Toole-- was looking for. They will now head out on the road for a tough six game road trip against some very good midmajors including New Mexico State who is an NCAA tournament regular, including last season.

So, where is the team at? Should we be worried? Here are some thoughts.

First off, we have to all step back and remember where this team is at RIGHT now. This is a very young group who lost a few key contributes who were leaders and were relied upon heavily last season. The loss of Marcquise Reed and Lucky Jones will be felt for awhile. That isn't an excuse because there are no excuses at this level, but it is still a fact just three games into the season. You add on the fact that RMU has gotten little from Aaron Tate because of injury (he barley played last night vs Bucknell) and is clearly not back yet, and you have a recipe for trouble. Also of note. Matty McConnell, a freshman that was inserted into the starting lineup is also out with an injury and has essentially missed two of the three games as he was hurt early in the second game against UC.

So, Robert Morris is looking at replacing two key members from last years team in Reed and Jones, two role players in Appolon and Bennett and they are trying to do so with a very young team that is missing two starters in McConnell and Tate.

Tough task.

Right now, defense is the big issue, but it is correctable. Getting Tate back to anchor the zone would go a long way. The team will get better with their rotations as the season moves along. Let's not forget even seasoned "vets" Rodney Pryor and Elijah Minnie are only in year two of the system. Really on Kavon Stewart and Tate have a solid amount of time under their belt at this level. Hustle is also a big factor. Robert Morris was TERRIBLE in transition defense Wednesday night, and hasn't been good all season. Even after made baskets, oppositions are getting out in transition for easy baskets. They have to get back. That's not coaching, experience, or anything else other than hustle.

The next issue...penetration. Part of playing a zone is that it takes away penetration and an offense has to pass their way through it for open shots. Right now though, the RMU guards are allowing so many drives to the basket and it completely collapses the defense. Just can't happen in a zone.

I'd also like to note that RMU has played three tough zone matchups. Penn and Bucknell are great shooting teams that have exploited space and made shots. UC was simply an overwhelming matchup. I expect this area to get a lot better as RMU gets more games under their belt.

Let's talk some good stuff. Rodney Pryor is still a beast. He had a bad game Wednesday night and still finished with 15 points and made some big shots. He looks healthy and locked in for the most part. His opening game performance at Penn was something to see.

Elijah Minnie is so close to being an All-NEC level player. He's so athletic (and has already had a few high level dunks), can face up, knock down jumpers, and is getting better at driving the lane and polishing up his post game. By season's end he could be a huge weapon. Keep working Elijah.

The freshmen look legit. Listen, we were SOOOO spoiled last year. Reed and Minnie were super freshmen. Most guys take time at this level to become impact players. Those guys were dynamic weapons from the start. With that said, Isiah Still looks like a player. He missed a lot of time the last few weeks with injuries but it's starting to come together for him. Jordan Lester looks like a very capable backup point guard and has a solid jumper. That's a weapon RMU did not have last year. He can really handle too. He has a long way to come defensively and will have his brain farts, but all freshmen will. The rest of the class is a wait and see, but there is a lot of promise in this group.

After two clunkers, K looked like what we thought he could be Wednesday. He was maybe the best player on the court for RMU. He's gotta play like that consistently.

Billy Giles put in a nice shift after two games where he was pretty much just a body out there. You can tell he has a lot of learning to do, especially defensively but he's a good player who could really contribute once it clicks.

Now for the bad. As noted above the defense stinks and the inexperience is really showing on both sides of the ball. Injuries have also been killer. Tate isn't right, McConnell is out, we still haven't seen Joe Hugley, and a bunch of guys ahve missed valuable practice time.

Steven Whitley and Andre Frederick have looked lost pretty much all year. Whitley is still learning and has time, but right now because of the injuries he's being forced to play a little more than he should. Frederick will show you so much promise one possession, then look terrible three in a row. These guys are both so young, but RMU will need more impact.

Overall....losing stinks. I hope the wins start coming soon, but patience will be needed with a young, banged up group. If the team can simply clean up the hustle plays and stupid mental errors they will be more competitive as they learn the system.

--Lee Kunkel

Five observations: Robert Morris vs. Bucknell

Robert Morris fell to Bucknell 81-76 in its home opener Wednesday night. Chris Mueller hits you with his five observations, with quotes: 


As we’ve seen in all three appearances to start the season, the Colonials haven’t quite figured out how to start games like they finish them.

Okay, the Cincinnati loss was different. Robert Morris was taking on a more talented team in a higher conference that could potentially end the season in the top 25 polls. We won’t count that one. 

But similar to the Penn game, Robert Morris came out of the gate dazed and confused. There was zero flow to the offense, lacking communication on the defensive end and very little urgency overall.

Against beatable teams, the Colonials can’t afford to dig themselves in these gaping holes. This team needs to grind it out to win. That takes a more consistent 40 minutes. 

Nine minutes into the first half, the Colonials trailed 23-8. They trimmed the gap to eight by halftime, and eventually had a chance to take the lead late. In the second half, Robert Morris outscored Penn and Bucknell a combined 92-77.

“I think it’s up to that starting group to do a better job of getting us going in the right direction,” head coach Andy Toole said. “It’s got to be all five of them. That’s an experienced starting group for the most part. They know what it takes to win games. They understand how hard it is to win games. For them to get out to the starts they’re getting out to, it’s not the way its supposed to be.”

We’re talking about a 2-1 team without the slow starts.


If you watched the game, Robert Morris did, at times, put on a show. Kavon Stewart balled out. Elijah Minnie showed his Kevin Love-esque three-point range off the pick and roll. Isaiah Still showed progression in increased action. Even Andre Frederick looked to be headed in the right direction, even if it’s just baby steps at this point. 

But every time the Colonials did something positive, something negative soon followed. One step forward, two steps back. Two steps forward, three steps back. Whatever you wan’t to call it, they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. 

For example, Robert Morris was down 74-63 with just over five minutes remaining after climbing out of the woodwork from the early deficit. Still sunk a three off an assist from Jordan Lester, and Steven Whitley quickly forced a turnover and dished it to Lester for fastbreak points. But because Robert Morris was slow getting back in transition, Bucknell inbounded it and immediately found Dom Hoffman on the other end of the floor for an easy layup. 

Elijah Minnie stuffed Hoffman in the paint on Bucknell’s next possession, but Stephen Morris got an easy layup off the offensive rebound because Billy Giles was completely out of position.

A common theme around the team has been that they’re young, and with youth is going to come mistakes. But as Toole clarifies in the quote below, being young isn’t always an excuse. (Exhibit A of why he’s the man)

“Those new guys never want to be new guys on offense,” Toole said. “Everybody remembers how to shoot, how to break their man down and go 1 on 1. But then on the defensive side of the floor, Coach, I’m just a young guy. Well, if you want to responsibility and you want the playing time, you have to be able to handle the accountability on both ends of the floor.”

That was the case all throughout the second half. Good followed by bad. 


Yes, I just referenced the 1973 Orleans song. 

You can’t help but become intrigued based off the early progression of Isaiah Still. After a quiet Robert Morris debut against Penn, the freshman has put together two solid efforts. He ironically went 4-8 shooting against both Cincinnatti and Bucknell.

He finished with 13 points and five boards in 35 minutes of action starting in place of Matty McConnell. I thought he was too hesitant offensively in the first half. There were a few times he passed up shot from deep that he was unsure on. Don’t think, just do. 

Rodney Pryor got on him about it a few times. He’ll learn to take advantage of those open opportunities. Injuries are never a good thing, but with McConnell out for the immediate future, Still has a golden opportunity to come into his own in the next few weeks. 

I’m gonna have fun with Still’s name this year.


Andre Frederick put together his best outing of the young season, and quite possibly the most consistent of his time at Robert Morris Wednesday night.

10 points and three boards on the stat line isn’t that impressive. Though Frederick is a guy where consistency’s been a major issue with him. I’d look at him as a project. Last year, he came off the bench and average single-digit minutes. The most he was known for was his red hair during postseason play.

Rocking blue hair this time around, Frederick has been thrust into the starting lineup with Aaron Tate out. Yes, he still has a lot to work on, especially defensively where he was outmuscled a couple times by Nana Foulland. Going 5-7 from the field with a couple two-handed slams and an offensive rebound is a positive sign for him. 

From my counting, he only missed one layup. Maybe two. Progress? 

“I thought [Andre] played really hard in good stretches,” Toole said. “We told him to just play as many possessions as you can in a row at the right speed. We watched in the beginning of the game, it was a minute half in and he was exhausted Well, that’s what you have to do. And then hopefully a minute and a half becomes two, and two and a half becomes three. .He showed some really good signs. There’s still some things he can clean up, no doubt. It was definitely a step in the right direction.”

Tate left the game after registering just five minutes in the first half. His lower body injury may put him out a bit longer than originally anticipated. 

“He’s just beat up. A tribute to Aaron is how hard he goes," Toole said. "I think he might of overdid it a little bit. We’ve got to dial it down and hopefully be able to get him back in the swing of things.” 


Overreaction after the Bucknell game: Kavon Stewart is the best point in the Northeast Conference.....Hey, based off last night, Cappella may actually be right. 

But seriously, Stewart controlled the tempo for Robert Morris in the second half. Pryor may have led the team in scoring, but Stewart was easily the Colonials' most valuable piece offensively.

Since he's been at Robert Morris, Stewart has always had the ability to drive the lane from the point. He has the handles and athleticism to get there. He could get to the hole, but after that was when things would get messy. 

This year looks different. Stewart, in my opinion, is more polished offensively. He's finishing more of his opportunities (4-9 from the field). He's made a point to be more physical on the offensive end. 

"Most definitely, when I'm in attack mode that's when the team goes. I can't allow the defense to dictate how I play. I've got to come out every night and play how I'm capable of playing," he said. 

--Chris Mueller

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Game 3 recap: "I think Bucknell just got another basket in transition"

Robert Morris played a basketball game tonight and, well, it didn’t go so great. RMU once again helped dig their proverbial 14 foot grave with awful, awful turnovers and just the worst transition defense anyone has ever seen.

Contrarily, they were able to go on mini-spurts of runs by just not being so dumb. It’s amazing the good that comes when guys remember how to play normal basketball. Little things, like not dribbling into three defenders, plays a large role into that. Communication on defense was also a huge problem.

RMU was able to cut the lead to three with under two minutes left. Hell, with :45 seconds left Kavon Stewart was flying to the basket with a chance to cut it to one. Alas, it did not go and things were not meant to be. It's hard to win basketball games when you don't play a full of 40.

RMU is 0-3 for the first time since 2010 after Wednesday’s 81-76 loss. Some additional thoughts:

-Kavon Stewart was pretty good tonight. Yinz know #3 is my guy right? I never panicked after two bad games to start the year. Nope. No panic. No second thoughts.

He had 14 points on 4-9 shooting (6-9 from the free throw line!), six assists, three rebounds, two steals and two turnovers. An all around really good game for the junior, especially in the early going. He was always there to steady the ship when things were getting wobbly.

Stewart's free throw rate is starting to become a thing I think sticks. He still has no right hand around the rim, but when he does go right he's able to contort his body into a pretzel, still finish with the left, and draw a foul because of the misconfiguration.

Do I wish he wouldn’t have tried to draw so much contact with :45 seconds in the game? Yes, but there’s much, much more that led to this loss. Such as…

-Transition defense! I’m not sure if guys are out of shape or don’t give a single shit about running back on defense, but I hope that all changes really, really soon. It’s embarrassing to watch. Inexperience is not an excuse for simply running back on defense. Make a basket? Get back on defense. Miss a basket? Get back on defense. Turn the ball over? Guess what… get back on defense.

-There was also a tonnnnn of sloppy nonsense on the defensive end. Giving up free points is bad, but this is bad in its own way. A few times in the second half, RMU left one of the best three point shooting teams in the country WIDE open for looks. Bucknell had a bald guy banging three's everywhere. I thought I was watching a YMCA game. 

I think a lot of this will be solved with more communication, which will come with more court time. I’d have to watch the film for more specifics, but I can think of several examples where RMU deployed random double teams on ball handlers and low post entries, which led to some killer baskets. I have faith that gets figured out.

-One thing I’m losing faith in: Andre Frederick. I hate to harp on one guy, but he is having an undesirable start to the season. When he’s in iso situations, offensively and defensively, bad things are happening. A revolving door could turn the corner on him in the low post right now.

You would think that with someone that big, he could block a shot by accident, but that hasn’t been the case. Even his one shining moment, a wide open YAM off a beautiful feed from Rodney Pryor, was disappointing after he got T’d up for hanging on the rim.

I’ll give Dre some credit: he battled through an awful start to make some big plays. He finished with 10 points on 5-7 shooting, but still has to make an impact on the boards and defensively. Tonight was a baby step in the right direction, but in the right direction indeed.

-Some weird Lester-Whitley-Still-Giles lineups out there. Kinda funny to see a whole crop of new players out there looking like chickens with their heads caught off. Actually, that’s probably a bad analogy because that would require running. RMU doesn’t run much.

-Aaron Tate appeared to reaggravate his left leg injury. He didn’t play in the second half. Obviously, Tate opposed to Giles (who I actually like) or Frederick is a huge difference. He’s never out of position. Those other guys always are.

-This is what life without Marcquise Reed and Lucky Jones is like when Rodney Pryor has an off night. He had a corner three go off the side of the backboard. There were times where RMU couldn’t buy a bucket, and a large part of that was because Pryor was off and no one had a damn clue what to do. A lot of his teammates have never played with him during an off night.

RMU really settled down when they killed Bucknell with Stewart-Minnie pick and pop. That helped lead to some penetration and impressive ball movement. Isaiah Still (13 points, 4-8 shooting, 3-6 from three) was the main beneficiary of that. In a way, Pryor was too. Guys playing competent around him took the pressure off.

-Elijah Minnie: still really good. Isn’t it funny that the top of the scouting report isn’t “DON’T LEAVE ALONE AT THE THREE POINT LINE IN PICK AND ROLL!!!!”? He did a good job of dominating the glass, hitting from three and getting his teammates involved. He still does like three stupid things a game but god damn I am excited for Elijah Minnie.

RMU is off again until Sunday. They’ll play a good Air Force team. Lots to work on.

--Chris Cappella