Robert Morris back to winning ways after rocky start
Robert Morris has a Northeast Conference first-place showdown with Bryant on Saturday, but Colonials coach Andy Toole hopes his team's focus is on Thursday's game against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Robert Morris (10-10, 6-2 NEC), St. Francis Brooklyn and Bryant are tied for first in the NEC after the Colonials won road games at Mount St. Mary's and St. Francis Brooklyn last weekend.
Toole said things his team didn't do well early in the season such as defend and come up with key plays late in games were the reasons for the team's success.
“The way we defended in those two games and some of the toughness plays that we made are things that used to be very commonplace, and we hadn't seen them as frequently this year,” Toole said. “It's nice to see them arrive in those two games, and hopefully it's something we can make part of our plan the rest of the way.”
Defense, rebounding, making free throws and getting clutch 3-pointers by senior Lucky Jones and freshman Marcquise Reed were part of the Colonials' success, Toole said.
“We beat two teams in the top half of the league, and to win two on the road in dramatic fashion is the thing I'm most proud of the most,” Toole said. “It's nice to be where we are. We're playing better, and we understand more what it takes to win.”
What worries Toole most is how his team will respond against Fairleigh Dickinson (7-12, 2-6 NEC), which has dropped six straight conference games.
“We have to stay focused,” Robert Morris junior Aaron Tate said. “That's what we did last week, and that's what the coaches have been telling us all week. We have to do our job.”
Toole said Tate has been the team's most consistent player.
“I have to be the rock and show the younger players what it takes to be successful,” Tate said. “It's nice to see the team starting to play well.”
One player who has been consistent, especially in conference play, has been Reed. He leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game and has been named NEC Rookie of the Week four times.
“I don't know if anybody anticipates bringing in a recruit that will lead the team in scoring, average 15 points per game and shoot over 50 percent from the field,” Toole said. “We knew he'd be able to score. We knew he'd be somebody in our rotation and somebody we'd love having the ball in his hands. I just don't know if we realized it would happen this quickly.”