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Lesson to be learned from RMU shocker

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

If any of the coaches of the spring sports teams at Fox Chapel High School and Shady Side Academy need to convey to their teams that anything can happen on any given day, they need only tell them what transpired at Robert Morris University a week and a half ago.

The big, bad Kentucky Wildcats came into town to play the Colonials in the first round of the NIT.

Now, granted, these Wildcats aren't as big and bad as their predecessors but they're still Kentucky. The reigning national champions. The team with the fabled history dating back to the days of Adolph (Baron) Rupp. They're a team that is so talented that none of the Robert Morris players would make the squad as a walk-on.

None of that mattered, though. The Colonials upset Kentucky and their coach, John Calipari, who grew up a mile away from the RMU campus.

After the game, Calipari said that it would have been a shame if his team's last-second desperation shot would have gone in. When's the last time you heard a coach say that? I'm sure the folks in basketball-crazy Kentucky didn't like hearing that.

But Calipari acknowledged that the Colonials deserved to win. I was stunned that the Wildcats were only 4 12 point favorites.

If I were a betting man, I'd have put the house on Kentucky to cover with ease. I figured that the Colonials would get run off of the floor by these basketball bluebloods.

But the underdogs pulled it out.

As underdogs who stunned us, they rank right up there with the New York Jets in Super Bowl III, the Miracle Mets of 1969, Jim Valvano's NC State team that shocked Houston in the 1983 NCAA basketball championship game and one of the biggest underdogs of all, Lyle Lovett, who won over Julia Roberts and provided hope to homely guys everywhere.

The sad part is that I forgot that the game was on ESPN2 and didn't find out about the win until the next morning. I felt happy for RMU and coach Andy Toole. For one night at least, they were the toast of the college basketball world.

The upside to the win is the exposure. Maybe some undecided high school hotshots will give a second glance at Robert Morris.

The downside?

You have to figure that Toole may be a hot commodity in the coaching ranks, just like Mike Rice was before him. Let's hope he sticks around.

A message to FC and SSA athletes: Whenever you are going up against a team that people are saying you don't have a chance against, ignore them.

Block them out completely and just think about Robert Morris.

Think about the Kentucky Wildcats swaggering into town figuring that RMU would consider it a privilege to be on the same floor with a storied team like Kentucky. Think about the Wildcats coming in swaggering and going home staggering, tails firmly entrenched between their legs. And believe that you can do the same.

Did you ever in your wildest dreams believe that you'd see headlines saying “Robert Morris University Puts An End To Kentucky's Season.”

Believe it. And believe in yourselves.

You'll be surprised what you can accomplish.

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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