Robert Morris trying to salvage season
This hasn't been your typical Robert Morris basketball season.
Instead of leading the Northeast Conference or fighting for another regular-season title, the Colonials find themselves trying to stay alive for a postseason bid. They are tied for seventh with LIU Brooklyn with a 5-7 record in the conference.
Inconsistent play, lack of effort and desire to get better and not paying attention to details have led to a disappointing season.
But like last season, a strong finish could change the team's fortunes.
The Colonials got hot at the right time, finished strong, and won three games in the conference tournament to claim the title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
A win against North Florida in Dayton, Ohio, sent the team to Charlotte, N.C., for a game against eventual national champion Duke.
While the Colonials (7-18) are not the same team, they have a chance on national TV (ESPNU) to continue a late-season run against St. Francis (Pa.), which defeated the Colonials, 90-78, on Jan. 30, and is part of a three-way tie for first place. The teams get a chance to spotlight the NEC, which isn't having a stellar season.
The conference's RPI is 31st out of 33 after being as high as No. 23 last season.
Robert Morris' attempt to turn around the season started Saturday with an 89-71 win against Bryant. It came after they lost at home to the worst team in college basketball, Central Connecticut State, according to RealTimeRPI.com.
“I want players who want to be part of the program and will work hard,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said recently after excusing second-leading scorer Elijah Minnie from the team. “Players like Matty (McConnell) and Isaiah (Still) aren't used to losing. They're starting to help us find ways to win games.”
The Colonials won't have to look hard for that from an opposing player. St. Francis senior Ben Millaud-Meunier, who scored 29 points in the first meeting, does the little things to get better.
“Before Christmas break, I was leaving my office around 2 a.m. and heard some noise in the gym,” St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. “I looked in and there was Ben working on his shooting. He wasn't satisfied with the way he was playing, and he was trying to get better.”
Millaud-Meunier, who is from Montreal, said basketball is his passion and he's bothered if he doesn't perform at a certain level.
After a recent loss at Fairleigh Dickinson, he stayed late watching film trying to figure what he could have done better.
“This is my final year of playing college basketball,” Millaud-Meunier said. “In another month, my career will be over. I'm going to do everything I can to continue the season as long as I can.
“I take losses personally. I let them bother me at times. I hope my teammates are the same.”
Millaud-Meunier said he purposely got into a Twitter battle with some RMU fans before the last game telling them he was going to ‘cook them.' He was a man of his word when he scored 29.