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RMU happy to still be playing

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Every college basketball player's goal is to play in the postseason in March, preferably in the NCAA or NIT.

Robert Morris settled for the Tournament, but the Colonials are taking advantage of the extra playing time.

The Northeast Conference tournament runners-up have advanced to the CIT quarterfinals, where they will face Fairfield at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Robert Morris (26-10) already has logged road at Indiana State (67-60) on Tuesday and at Toledo (69-51) on Saturday. Fairfield defeated Manhattan, 69-57, on Sunday.

The Colonials are having fun surprising people.

"It's a chance to continue to play games and be with your teammates," said lone senior Lawrence Bridges. "It's been a lot of fun."

The Colonials haven't changed their style. They still play suffocating defense -- just ask Toledo, which didn't make its first basket until nearly 12 minutes expired.

Bridges said Toledo did not seem to be ready for the Colonials' defensive pressure. Robert Morris raced out to a 9-0 lead and led 18-3 before Toledo recorded a bucket.

Coron Williams (17 points) and Lucky Jones (13) had big games for the Colonials. Velton Jones and Russell Johnson each had 10.

"Our style hasn't changed," Bridges said. "We jumped right on them early. After they made a run, we hit a couple buckets, and we took control."

Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole, who was recruiting yesterday, said the extra time practicing will be beneficial. He has liked the way his team has played and responded to new challenges. He said they earned the right to play in the postseason.

"We're always going to teach at every practice," Toole said. "These guys are getting an opportunity to play more games."

The tournament is helping to erase the bad finish the Colonials had in the NEC championship game loss at Long Island.

"We didn't play our best game for various reasons," Johnson said. "It gives us another opportunity to play games and redeem ourselves.

"I think we've shocked people by winning two games. Some people have taken us for granted because we're a small school. I'd like to win three more games."

Toole said the team has stayed focused and continued to work hard.

"We're preparing the same way," Toole said. "It's the only way I know how. The more court time the players get, the better.

"These games and practices are good for all the players but especially for Keith (Armstrong), Lucky and Anthony (Myers)."

Armstrong and Lucky Jones are freshmen, while Myers is a sophomore.

Bridges said the Colonials don't care who they play. They're just glad to be playing in March.

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