Monday, July 13, 2015

The Lucky Legacy

It’s hard to write the Lucky Jones legacy story, but it's worth trying with the recent news that Jones signed with Liege Basketball, a team in the top division in Belgium.

Was he ever the best player on his team? Was he an all-time great? An underachiever? A leader? Nothing is really ever black and white, and Lucky Jones is even less of an exception than most.

Lucky Jones is going into the RMU record books (photo via 
Getty Images).
It was never just about basketball when it came to Lucky. It was always "look at how much fun he's having" while flashing that big grin. That's kind of obvious joy can be rare. When people talk about Karvel Anderson, the first thing is, “wow that kid could shoot.” Lucky was always different like that.

That big smile could never do justice to his demeanor. Lucky was tough. So tough. His style of play was borderline reckless at times, throwing himself into the stands, hitting the floor for loose balls, and trading elbows with forwards and centers.

There’s such majestic nature that good rebounders have that others don’t. It’s not like being a good scorer, where consistent release points, footwork and your teammates floor spacing all matter. Rebounding is about 20 percent fundamentals, five percent athletic ability, and 75 percent pure hunger.

Really, Lucky was a guard. At 6-4, he had ideal shooting guard size. But this is the NEC, and 6-4 requires you to be a rebounder, and Lucky always took pride in that. He rebounded with a ferocity that just doesn’t make sense to some people. It’s a toughness and competition thing, and it's why he's the program's all-time leading rebounder.

Competition, toughness, and Lucky have always gone together. Like the time he got into it with Wagner’s Mario Moody… his cousin. You could always see him yapping. Yapping to the guy he’s guarding, to the bench, to the guy who just committed a foul; there he was, with that big grin and enough talk for the team.

Lucky seemed poised to be a superstar. He appeared in every game his freshman year, breaking into the starting lineup nine times. He rebounded the hell out of the ball and proved his worth on the defensive end, showing the ability to guard almost every position on the floor. The shooting wasn’t quite there, but the mechanics were pretty. The future was bright.

There were signs of trouble in his sophomore season. The expectations rose but Lucky’s play didn’t necessarily match it at the beginning of the season. After lackadaisical home losses to Bryant and Central Connecticut State to begin conference play, Lucky was suspended for a game (against an awful FDU team) by Toole for poor practice habits.

Lucky came back from that suspension strong, shooting a ridiculous 54 percent from three over the last 19 games.

It’s worth noting that this is where things get confusing when you talk about Lucky Jones. Was Lucky really good his sophomore year? Yeah, but it took a suspension to refocus him, and that team was stacked. Velton Jones, Karvel Anderson, Coron Williams, and Russell Johnson were all of higher focus teams scouting reports.

That’s where Lucky thrived. When he had to be “the” guy, when teams could say “we have to shut down Lucky Jones”, things didn’t always go so well for him. That’s how things started for him this past season. Teams went into every game not worrying about a sniper like Karvel Anderson or even knowing who Marcquise Reed and Rodney Pryor were. The game plan was, “lets shut down Lucky Jones and let the rest fall in place” and they did.

That’s not meant to be some harsh criticism of an otherwise really good player. He couldn’t be “the” guy, but so what? He thrived when his teammates could take some pressure off of him, as do a lot of players. Maybe Lucky wasn’t as good as we expected, but in the right role, he excelled. It's also worth noting that through whatever shooting struggles he might have had, he's fourth on the programs all-time scoring list.

Unfortunately, some of the suspensions are part of the legacy too. It’s kind of easy to forget how quickly the ship was sinking this past year. Lucky missing games against CCSU and Sacred Heart could have cost the team the season had the suspension gone on longer. Everyone is happy he ironed things out with the coaches and players, but a senior shouldn’t have put himself in that position to begin with.

Listen, nobody here is perfect. I’m hardly one to write about the character of someone I barely know. Do I know what led to suspensions and misunderstandings? No, and I’m also not blind enough to see that these things happen everywhere in college athletics. Suspensions are part of the story but not even close to the whole thing. It is what it is, for better or worse.

When it comes down to it, Lucky Jones played his heart and soul out for Robert Morris. He cared about winning and he cared about the school, and those things are important. He played his best when the lights were brightest. He was the best player on the floor in the infamous RMU-Kentucky game (before getting ejected for the decapitation of Archie Goodwin), hit some huge three’s in the past NEC championship game, and iced RMU’s NCAA tournament win with clutch free throws against North Florida. His STUFF of Duke's Jahlil Okafor in the NCAA tournament game was also great.

Overall, Lucky Jones was a winner. Four years, 92 wins.

What else beats that?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Schedule updates

The Colonials are slowly finalizing their non conference schedule, and it figures to include a bunch of miles on the bus and plane.

Per Jon Rothstein, Cincinnati will host Robert Morris on Sunday 11/15/15.

The Colonials were also listed on the Youngstown State Penguins schedule. The game will take place at YSU on Wednesday December 2nd. http://www.ysusports.com/sports/mbkb/2015-16/schedule

As of now, here is a look at the Colonials opponents.

11/15 at Cincinnati
12/2 at Youngstown State
12/29 at Georgia
TBD Oakland
TBD Bucknell
TBD at Duquesne
TBD at Columbia
TBD at Air Force (tournament)
TBD at New Mexico State (tournament)
TBD at Tennessee Tech (tournament)
TBD vs Mississippi Valley State (tournament at Tennessee Tech)


A lot of road and neutral court games. I would guess Andy Toole and the Colonials will try to get another home game or two, but as Andy has shown in the past, he's not afraid of challenging his group with tough road games, and plenty of them

Friday, June 12, 2015

Around the NEC

As the offseason moves along, a few news items have dropped the past few weeks that have some type of effect of the Colonials and/or the NEC. Some news and notes...

The Colonials schedule is starting to come together. The first "buy" game was announced last week, per Jon Rothstein the Colonials will travel to Athens GA to take on the Georgia Bulldogs of the SEC. Other games appear to be as followed.

12/29 at Georgia
TBD Oakland
TBD Bucknell
TBD at Duquesne
TBD at Columbia
TBD at Air Force (tournament)
TBD at New Mexico State (tournament)
TBD at Tennessee Tech (tournament)
TBD vs Mississippi Valley State (tournament at Tennessee Tech)
(per Colonials Corner message board)

Right now there are only two home games on the schedule (Oakland, Bucknell) and a lot of travel involved. Expect a few more home games to be added as well as a buy game or two. I would expect about four more total games added.
Pryor and the Colonials will once again
play a very tough non-conference schedule. (pc: PSR)

Some thoughts on the schedule so far: Really like the mix and balance. Bucknell and New Mexico State are two really good mid-majors who have had comparable success to the Colonials the past few years. Air Force and Duquesne present winnable games against teams in conference's that are the next level up from the NEC. Georgia is a very solid team from the SEC, but one RMU should have a fighting chance to defeat, much like Clemson, Alabama, and Arkansas the past few years.

NJIT and the NEC rumors will be no more. The Highlanders, an independent school in New Jersey that had a great year last season, defeating Michigan on the way, found a home in the Atlantic Sun (replacing Northern Kentucky who moved on to the Horizon). I will admit I'm a little surprised the NEC didn't look to take a hot up-and-coming school with only 10 teams in the league after losing two a few years ago, but not overly surprised. 10 is a good number and if you add NJIT, you need to find a 12th school with limited options out there.

We will have more on NEC transfers soon, but man was the league crushed by departures once again. At RMU, Marcquise Reed left for Clemson, MSM lost two players that were expected to play good minutes this year (Chris Martin, Andrew Smeathers), FDU lost one of their best players in Matt McDonald to Penn, and CCSU lost maybe the best point guard in the league when Matt Mobley left for St. Bonaventure. Ouch.

One other big change...new rules! The NCAA voted to move the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30. More possessions, more points. The restricted-area arc moving from three feet to four feet away from the basket, as the NCAA looks to cut down on contact at the basketball and reduce the block/charge rule. Coaches will now only have four timeouts instead of five (great change). There are already four media timeouts built into a half. Coaches do not need five TO's. Great change. Flagrant fouls for those who flop (Awesome!). This is reviewable. They have also eliminated the five second closely guarded rule.

Here is a complete list of rule changes: NCAA rule changes

One last note..


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Welcome to your worst nightmare


Guess who’s back.
Back again.
CTC’s back.
Tell a friend.
Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back…


That’s right! We’re excited to return to where it all began at Chronicling the Colonials. I know I speak for Lee when I say we’re incredibly excited to return to the fun, goofy, sometimes-serious world of Robert Morris blogging.

To those who followed us to Colonials Corner, a sincere thank you. That was a gig I never wanted to give up, but I was provided an opportunity to make a living writing for the Evening Sun in Hanover, PA and couldn’t pass it down. The Evening Sun is a great organization with great editors who provide excellent content on a daily basis. I love it.

But I don’t think anything will match the pure love I had for Colonials Corner, which is why I need to get a few things off my chest. First, a big thanks to Andrew Chiappazzi who pitched me hard to his bosses at Rivals to take over when he moved on. I was a kid with a lot to prove and wanted that chance to take things to a new level desperately. Andrew believed in me to take over his project, and I hope I didn’t disappoint.

There were a lot of things I would have done different. A lot. And I understand if there are people who weren’t always pleased with the coverage or types of content. Every day was a learning process for me, so thank you for your patience.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a sports writer. At Colonials Corner, I was, and it was everything I wanted and then some. It was long nights of banter and thoughts and frustration and I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. Colonials Corner prepared me for the real world more than anything else could have.

My good friend Jason Frank will be taking over Colonials Corner now that I’m gone and he’s going to do a great job. Follow him on twitter @Jay_Frank17!

As for us, we’re back and ready to go. Neither of us live in the Pittsburgh area anymore, so coverage is naturally going to be a challenge sometimes. We’ll work through it, because our passion for the Bobby Mo red and blue never wavers. Round one of Chronicling the Colonials was the most ridiculously fun time I’ve ever had writing. The passion for Bobby Mo hoops will always there. We’re excited to getting back to being like the drunk 20-somethings we are.

So yup, we're back baby! And this time with more gifs! As always, our info goes better with tequila.

--Chris Cappella
--@C_Cappella


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Home

As you may or may not have heard, Chris has taken over as the Site Publisher over at ColonialsCorner.com. That URL is temporarily down, but you can still access the site at www.robertmorris.rivals.com ...Tons of content, and lots to come over there!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

RMCMB/NECMBB offseason run down

--Lee Kunkel
--@Kunkel5

Can you believe it? July is almost over. Only about a month left before the dorms and classrooms will fill up on the campus of Bobby Mo. With that, another step closer to the NCAA basketball season. Compared to the past few off seasons, it's been pretty quiet. There have been a few transfers around the league, but nothing too shocking. Schedules are leaking out slowly (including Robert Morris).

For the first time in a long time, there were not any coaching changes in the league, (nor any teams leaving after Quinnipiac and Monmouth left a year ago). This is probably the biggest reason that the league had a relatively stable offseason. Andy Toole and Jamion Christian both had their name attached to a few vacancies but both ended up staying put. Each will have a team capable of getting back to the NCAA tournament, and neither had an offer that was too appealing to pry them away from the two top programs in the NEC last season.
Jones will look to lead the Colonials
in 2014-2015 (p/c Post Gazette).

The guys over at NYC Buckets broke down the NEC transfers this off season. Give it a read. There were a few small surprises, and Wagner was probably hurt the most. They lost lengthy big man Mario Moody and sharp shooter Jay Harris. Both would have been starters from the Seahawks, who lost quite a bit of talent to graduation as well.

EJ Reed of LIU was maybe the biggest surprise. Reed, an athletic forward with solid skill, was a major part of the Blackbird attack last year, and was expected to once again been a top tier option for LIU. Reed is heading to the DII level.

As for the Colonials, three players have moved on, but none are too surprising. Britton Lee and Jeremiah Worthem were dismissed from school in January, and neither will return. They would have had to sit out the entire first semester before they could even step foot back on campus, so they likely would not have been able to play for RMU much at all this season. Worthem is no doubt a tough loss, as he had NEC POY written all over him and would have been a major part of the team this season. 

Desjuan Newton also left the team, but he also did not play for RMU in 2014 after stepping away from the team after Christmas. Worthem and Lee are at Junior College this season and could be back at the D1 level in 2016 (Surely Worthem will be). Newton is at a DII school.

As for recruiting, RMU had a lot of movement. With three players leaving via transfer, a few scholarships left over from the year before, and the graduation of Karvel Anderson and Ant Myers Pate, coach Toole had a lot of spots to fill throughout the roster.

For highlights and a detailed breakdown of each player, check out the class breakdown here.

The Colonials added  freshman forwards Andre Frederick (Detroit, Mich.) and Elijah Minnie (Monessen, Pa.), freshman guards Jafar Kinsey (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Marcquise Reed (Laurel, Md.), junior forward Lionel Gomis (Dakar, Senegal ), junior guard Rodney Pryor (Evanston, Ill.) and sophomore guard Jairus Lyles (Washington, D.C.). They also added freshman preferred walk-on Ryan Skovranko (Pittsburgh PA.)

Minne and Skovranko are the highlight names on this list (simply because of location). The local duo chose to stay home and play for Toole after winning two state titles in high school at Lincoln Park. Minne had a lot of high major interest and is an incredible defender and athlete. He will surely produce a few highlight dunks at the Chuck. I expect him to have a role this season. Skovranko is a lengthy shooter, and one to track for the future.

Gomis may make the biggest impact out of the gate for RMU. He's 6'9 and a legitimate 220. RMU has NOT had many forwards that are "big" (Usually undersized and strong as hell: Tate, Aaron. Or tall but skinny: Hawkins, Stephan). He's big, and knows how to use his frame. He played a year at Siena before going to Community College for a year. Gomis has two years of eligibility left and will look to anchor down the paint and push Stephan Hawkins at the center position.

Kinsey, Reed and Frederick are the future of the program, but all three will have a chance to get minutes right away. While Frederick will have quite a battle in a crowded front court, Reed and Kinsey will have a very good shot. Andy Toole will need a group effort to replace Anderson at the two guard, and Reed has the makeup to take some of those minutes. He can shoot and score it with anybody. It's the other parts of his game (particularly defense) that will decide just how much he plays year one. Kinsey will be penciled in to play the backup point behind Kavon Stewart. 

Pryor could be the biggest steal for RMU. The 6-4 swingman has battled injuries his whole career including a torn ACL just before the start of the 2013-2014 campaign. He has the size and talent to be a very good D1 player if he can stay on the court.

The last member of the recruiting class, Jairus Lyles, is a transfer from VCU. Any time a player comes from that type of program, you know he has talent. Lyles will have to sit out this season, but should be a major part of the 2015-2016 plans.

Some other notes/thoughts:

Lucky Jones had a very big offseason/summer league. He is primped to have a big senior season, and could win NEC Player of the Year. He was also named to NYC Buckets very early first team All NEC. Jones has accomplished a lot at RMU, and will once again have a huge season on both ends of the court, but is still missing that one elusive accomplishment. Winning the NEC tournament.

Once practice "officially" starts, it will go-go-go for the Colonials. Andy Toole has a lot of talent, a lot of depth, and a lot of questions heading into year five of the Toole era. Only Jones and Stewart are "expected" starters and there are many roles that will need to be filled. Will the Colonials play man-to-man or go with the 2-3 zone again? Who replaces Karvel? Can the freshmen adapt? and many more....

With the season quickly approaching we will have a full roster breakdown, more on the schedule, predictions and much more. Don't forget to get updates on the summer league, which concludes this week with a couple colonials playing in the title game.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pro-AM semi's: discussing Chuck, Tate


The Greentree Pro-AM summer league is winding down to a halt. When I’m not breaking my back sitting on the bleachers I get sad about this. I love basketball. I love watching, analyzing, looking for tendencies, critiquing the awful coaching, and joking around with the other writers. But there are also nights like tonight, where there was some less-than-stellar basketball being played.

Today was the semifinals of the league. Game one featured the seven seed Shale Attorneys featuring Chuck Oliver squaring off against the number two seed South Hill Audi old guys. I added the last part on, but the players really are a bunch of former collegiate players still trying to ball out. Take former WPIAL star and Nebraska guard Lance Jeter for instance, who can definitely still get to the tin but also looks like he ate Raymond Felton.

Anyway, Chuck didn’t look too bad. He showed up for a 7:15 game at 7:14, meaning he put exactly zero shots before the game. Unsurprisingly, his jump shot wasn’t on but he showed effectiveness getting to the rim, especially using his left. I also thought he passed very well in the transition game and moved well without the ball. Summer league basketball is a lot of one-on-one action, so moving without the ball doesn’t necessarily mean your teammates are feeding you open looks, but it didn’t go unnoticed here.

There was a nice ongoing discussion during the game about Chuck and the expectations the general fanbase may have for him. I like Chuck’s game and enjoyed watching him get to handle the ball a little bit in this game. However, I don’t think anyone should expect to see more than 25 minutes a game from him. He’s pretty average defensively and doesn’t have a very diverse offensive game. It’s a lot of spot up three’s and baseline floaters.  I really think Marcquise Reed is going to push him for minutes because of how pesky Reed is defensively. It’ll be interesting to see what Rodney Pryor brings to the table too.

Chuck’s team did win to go to the final which is kind of incredible in its own right. Along with Oliver  there is Duquesne guard Rene Castro (who, along with a lot of other Duquense guards, has looked really good) and Pitt forward Aron Nwanko, but other than that the roster is littered with two West Liberty wing players, a Cannon wing, and Pitt walk-on Joshua Ko (who’s awful). Good for them.

Game two featured Lucky Jones on team PGT versus Aaron Tate and Marcquise Reed of team System 1. It was a pretty awful game when you consider the level of talent playing. Lucky Jones started things off nice by hitting a deep elbow three then a dirty step back three at the top of the key. He also squared off defensively against Pitt’s Michael Young, an athletic forward with a significant size advantage. Even when there were times Lucky was overmatched in the low post, he did a great job with his positioning which allowed him to poke away the ball a few times. Young also gave us the most excitement in the night when him and Duquesne’s Darius Lewis got into it and received double technicals.

Much like we’ve seen with Lucky in the past, his jump shot wasn’t always there but he got to the line a ton. That’s what makes Lucky a special player; the ability to effect the game in so many different ways.

Marcquise Reed didn’t see the floor a lot and when he did didn’t do a whole lot. He nailed an easy three when a defender didn’t step up off a pick and roll. I think he finished with seven points.

I’ve really enjoyed watching Aaron Tate play this summer. He’s shown up to almost every session and has shown an ability to at least try a few things, like working out of the low post. I doubt we’ll see it much (if at all) during the season but when he gets the ball in the low post on the right he hasn’t looked bad trying to move and finish with his left. Also, I am fully convinced he would be an Olympic-caliber volleyball player if he wanted to be. He has UPS.

Tate and Reed’s team went on to win the game and will face Chuck in the championship game on Wednesday. Overall, it was another relatively bland night of hoops, but these things happen. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the championship game Wednesday, but will try and run a story later in the week no matter what.

Until next time!

--Chris Cappella
--@C_Cappella