Thursday, August 6, 2015

Reaction, notes on RMU's schedule release

Robert Morris finalized their schedule for the 2015-16 season! I love schedule release days, because it’s both the most and least exciting day of the year. Yes, we finally get set times and dates and that makes the season feel close… until you realize the games won’t be played for another three months.




Overarching takeaway:
I had a few people mention to me that this is the easiest non-conference schedule RMU has had in a long time. In theory, this could be correct. There’s not that HUGE Duke, Carolina, Kentucky game like in past years and eight of RMU’s 13 non-conference opponents finished below .500 last season.


Then you think back to last year’s non-conference season and remember Youngstown State, who finished 11-21 last season, dropping 89 in a victory at the Sewall Center. It really just depends how the team gels early in the season, if there’s a commitment to defense (and competition) and health.


Could RMU put together a really nice non-conference season, especially when you compare it to past years? Sure. Theoretically, I’d like to think Penn, Tennessee Tech, Mississippi Valley State, Youngstown State and Duquesne, at the minimum, are wins. If things are going well, you should be able to add Oakland and Lehigh to that list.


But again, past teams haven’t exactly shown a knack for playing well in non-conference play.


More notes:


-RMU will open the season on Nov. 13 in the Palestra at Penn. This is a fun game for a few reasons:


  1. It’s the alma mater of head coach Andy Toole. Toole was one of the best players to come through that program in recent memory. With that being said, don’t think the competitor in him doesn’t want to stick it to his former school. I’m sure there’s a lot of behind the scenes trash talk that’s already started.
  2. Former Boston College head coach Steve Donahue will make his debut as coach for Penn. A year after going 9-19 and finishing last in the Ivy League, Jerome Allen resigned as coach after five seasons. It wasn’t a particularly fun time with Allen at the helm; Penn 26 wins the past three seasons. Robert Morris has 26 wins in their last 44 games played.
  3. Even though Donahue was hired, don’t think for a second there wasn’t a contingent of reporters/fans/alumni who were pushing for the school to make a run at Toole. Proof: google search “Penn should hire Andy Toole”.


-Games at Cincinnati (11/15) and at Georgia (12/29) are probably the most notable of non-conference play. Both teams made the tournament last year, with Cinncy winning a game as an 8 seed and Georgia losing in the first round to Michigan State.


Cincinnati is going to be tough. They’re a really strong defensive team that lost just a reserve guard and a redshirt forward to transfers. Center Octavius Ellis might be the best player in the AAC and Cinncy will be near the top of a lot of preseason AAC rankings.


I love that game at Georgia. Seemingly every year, Robert Morris plays a fringe tournament team in the last non-conference game of the year (Clemson, Alabama, Arkansas the last three years now). It’s a tough matchup, but if RMU brings their "A" game, it’s one they can steal. RMU really should have won at Clemson and Alabama the last two years. We’ll see.


-Other cool things: RMU will play Air Force, New Mexico State, Tennessee Tech and Mississippi Valley State in the Air Force Classic tournament. New Mexico State was a 15 seed in last year’s tournament. That's a very balanced matchup there.


-RMU’s home opener is 11/18 vs. Bucknell.


-Of RMU’s 13 non-conference games, just three will be played at the Sewall Center (Bucknell, Oakland, Lehigh). Also, of the 13 non-conference opponents, three (Cinncy, New Mexico State, Georgia) went to the NCAA tournament while another (Bucknell) won their regular season conference championship.


-Eight of RMU’s 13 non-conference opponents finished last season below .500.


-Five of RMU’s final eight regular season games are at home. Robert Morris is 57-17 at home in the Toole era.


-A big stretch of conference play could shape up at the end of January into the beginning of February. RMU will play at Mount St. Mary’s and at St. Francis (PA) before returning home for three against Central Connecticut State, Bryant and St. Francis (PA) again. In my humble opinion, Robert Morris, SFU, Bryant and Mount St. Mary’s could be the top four teams in the NEC.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ben Millaud-Meunier goes off the deep end, gets roasted by RMU twitter


Things got weird Monday night.

First, some much needed back story. Ben Millaud-Meunier is a shooting guard for St. Francis PA. Personally, we are big fans of St. Francis PA here at CTC because they’re fun on twitter and bomb so many ridiculous three’s you would think they’re your local YMCA team.

Ben Millaud Meunier is the captain of this stereotype.

This story goes back a few years. In the 2013-2014 season, a young SFU squad came into the Chuck and lost a WILD game. RMU came out bombing, then St. Francis comes back and hits three’s everywhere to take an 11 point lead with just over four minutes left. RMU came back with a crazy run of their own to win the game, but a mini-rivalry was born on and off the court. Before that game, I went up to Millaud-Meunier to talk to smack. He fired right back and we even ended up chatting for a few minutes before the game. This is now a tradition when the Red Flash come into town. Millaud-Meunier is a good guy who loves NEC basketball and REALLY wishes he was good enough to play at Robert Morris.

It got to the point that last year, he told me before the game he was going to stare me down on press row after every made shot. He got into the game midway through the first half, hit his first shot, and… yup. I got the stare down. We’re like the Spike Lee-Reggie Miller of the NEC, except I’m a great trash talker and Millaud-Meunier makes Ron Artest look like the greatest three point shooter in the history of the game.

Things didn’t go so well for him after that. Millaud-Meunier’s final stat line: 15 minutes, 1-3 from the field, three points, two turnovers. It goes without saying that I didn’t get many stare downs after that first made shot.

So Monday started off innocent enough with this tweet:


Yes, I am excited and ready for RMU’s schedule to be finalized. It probably won’t be much longer. Basketball is right around the corner, and man does it feel good.

Things kind of went crazy when Millaud-Meunier responded to the tweet with some good natured trash talking.

Before moving forward, it’s worth noting a few different things.

1) St. Francis beat Robert Morris for the first time in like 200 years last January and celebrated like they won the NBA championship. In January. Don’t think for a second the entire Robert Morris program forgot about that.

2) All things considered, SFU underachieved last year. They had one of the league’s best players (Earl Brown) and a slew of three point shooters. They returned about 90 percent of their minutes and looked poised to be serious contenders for an NEC title. Things just never clicked for them. Their biggest problem? None of their “good” three point shooters actually turned out to be good three point shooters. They shot 33.4 percent as a team.

3) Millaud-Meunier kind of stalled out as a shooter. As a freshman, he shot nearly 50 percent from three on 84 attempts. Very respectable. The past two seasons, he’s shot 34.6 percent from three. Not as great. He averaged 5.5 points-per-game this past season.

The onslaught started when some the RMU faithful caught on to the beef.


 Legendary manager Paul Swank for the win....


Beau was angry...




Lee with the history lesson...



 Pretty much...


Don't ever compare yourself to Karvel Anderson. Please shower to clear that filth off of you.

                                       




 I’ll give the kid credit. He’s persistent. He loves the smack talk. But he took a MAJOR L. I thought what Drake was doing to Meek Mill was bad, but this was worse. Way worse. Poor kid.

“Bench players talking like starters, I hate it.” -Drake.


 Well done RMU. See you in February, Ben.

--Chris Cappella
--@C_Cappella

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!