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RMU's Anderson takes aim in NIT

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 11:33 p.m.

Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said he is getting close to where nothing surprises him about senior guard Karvel Anderson, including Anderson's 38 points as the Colonials beat St. John's in the first round of the NIT.

“I'm never really surprised, but I kind of appreciate it while it's going on, seeing what he's capable of doing,” Toole said. “Because some of the things he's done have been pretty remarkable and eye-catching.”

The 6-foot-2 Anderson was named Northeast Conference Player of the Year after leading a short-handed squad to the regular-season championship. RMU lost in the conference tournament finals but rebounded against St. John's on Tuesday as Anderson posted a career best. The Colonials play Belmont in Nashville, Tenn., in a second-round NIT game Friday.

Anderson is averaging 19.6 points a game and shooting 51.1 percent from the field. He ranks seventh nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (46.2), and no player above him has made more shots. Toole is lobbying for Anderson to join the 3-point competition during Final Four festivities.

“I think it would be fun to see where I stack up against the best shooters in the country,” Anderson said. “I'd love to do it.”

Anderson averaged 12.5 points last season after transferring from his third junior college. He played with an injured right (shooting) hand, the result of what he called a prior “bad” surgery and a lack of proper treatment. A second operation in May repaired the damage.

Anderson and junior forward Lucky Jones have picked up the scoring slack left by the departures of veterans Velton Jones, Russell Johnson and Coron Williams. Anderson wanted to prove he is more than a long-range bomber.

“I really disliked being labeled a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter,” he said. “I felt that was disrespect to the hard work I've put into the rest of my game. Now I've been able to showcase it a little more.”

Said Toole, “His ability to make shots is incredible, whether they're guarded, whether they're open, whether they're off the dribble, off the catch, whether they're in transition or the open court. I mean, at all times, you think the ball's going in.

The story of Anderson's troubled life — which includes a brief period of homelessness — while growing up in Elkhart, Ind., has been well documented. Anderson at this point would prefer to discuss basketball. Toole understands the impact of Anderson's background but said it does not explain everything about him.

Anderson's extraordinary confidence, for example, “comes (from) being in the gym,” Toole said. “It doesn't matter if you come from a mansion or live under a bridge. If you're not shooting shot after shot after shot, seeing the ball go in and go in, from every possible angle, off every possible situation, with all different types of footwork, you're not going to have it.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

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