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Robert Morris men's basketball coach Toole pleased with team

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

When you play for Robert Morris men's basketball coach Andy Toole, you know where you stand.

After a loss on a recent Saturday night, Toole kept his players after the game until midnight to watch video of their mistakes.

But when he's pleased with their efforts — as he is now, with the Colonials taking a five-game winning streak into their game Thursday night at Sacred Heart — he makes sure the players know it.

"That is how this program operates," Toole said. "We are really honest with who we are. I don't know how to be anything but that."

Robert Morris (21-8, 12-4) will be the third or fourth seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament that begins March 1. The Colonials will play their first game at home while trying to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the past four seasons.

Toole said his team is as good as the 2010 Colonials, who qualified for the tournament as a No. 15 seed and almost upset No. 2 Villanova.

"We have hard-working guys and competitive guys, and those are the things that help you in a single-elimination tournament," said Toole, who was an assistant under former Robert Morris coach Mike Rice.

Toole said the NEC has several teams capable of making a successful run, including Long Island (21-7, 15-1) and Wagner (23-4, 14-2).

"There are a lot of teams that are as good as anybody," Toole said. "We are one of those teams."

> > Here's how the season is going at West Liberty (W.Va.):

The men's basketball team, ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II, could go scoreless in its final regular-season game Saturday against Davis & Elkins and still end up leading the nation in scoring.

West Liberty, which won 25 of its first 26 games, was averaging 103.2 points before meeting Wheeling Jesuit (second at 88.8) on Wednesday night.

Six players are scoring at a double-digit rate, led by Alex Falk (17.2 ppg). Freshman C.J. Hester of West Mifflin is one of them (14.2), with a team-high 60.7 field-goal percentage (15th in the nation). Also on the West Liberty roster are Latrobe's Jeff Yunetz, a sophomore guard, and South Fayette's Mike Lamberti, a freshman who took a medical redshirt after hurting his knee.

District schedule


Robert Morris at Sacred Heart

When/where: 7 p.m. Thursday/William H. Pitt Center, Fairfield, Conn.

Records: Robert Morris 21-8, 12-4 NEC; Sacred Heart 13-16, 7-9

Series: Robert Morris leads, 13-8

Of note: During its current five-game winning streak, Robert Morris has shot 50 percent or better from the field three times.

Players to watch

Robert Morris: Russell Johnson, Jr., F — In a 68-60 victory against Central Connecticut State last Saturday, he scored 14 points and added nine rebounds, two blocks and three steals.

Sacred Heart: Justin Swidowski, Jr., F — Leads the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game while shooting 52.8 percent from the field.




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