RMU men's basketball rides momentum
NEW YORK — Pittsburgh is a town whose DNA is encoded with the Steelers' black and gold.
But there is room for other teams in the sports-crazed city.
As long as those teams win.
“The success goes hand-in-hand with the support,” Robert Morris men's basketball coach Andy Toole said Tuesday at the Northeast Conference basketball media day at Barclays Center.
“As you come into a situation, you start to have some success, the support is there and both things continue to grow. One doesn't happen without the other. You don't start winning if you don't have support. And you don't get the support unless you start to get some wins.
The Colonials are coming off a season in which they were 20-15 overall, 12-6 in conference, won the conference's postseason tournament and an NCAA Tournament play-in game before falling to eventual national champion Duke in the Round of 64.
“It's elevated our university,” Toole said. “And it's really been nice to see the response within the city, that people are excited about basketball season. In a town where the Steelers are king, it's nice (that when) walking through town or going to a restaurant with my wife, people say, ‘Coach, good luck this year, can't wait for the season, we'll see you at games.' Those things did not happen previously. So it's nice that people are understanding of that. The next step is figuring out ways to continue the success because we all know how fragile it is.”
Conference coaches believe Robert Morris will remain a force in the NEC this season. The Colonials were picked second in the preseason coaches poll, and the women's team was selected to win the NEC.
“It's a tribute to our administration,” Toole said. “It's not something that can be accomplished without the support of everybody on campus. There's hundreds and hundreds of people that have a hand in our success each year.
“It goes to show if you have that kind of support and you're given good resources, you can go out and compete and be successful.”
For a program attempting to integrate five freshmen and a junior college transfer into a team whose goal is a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, much will be asked of senior guard Rodney Pryor. The 6-foot-5 Pryor, who represented the Colonials at media day with Toole, was named to the NEC preseason all-conference team. He averaged 15.6 points on 48.1 percent shooting last season.
“Consistency,” is Pryor's stated goal for this season. “It's all about being able to bring it every day, through example or vocally.
“I'm just excited.”
So, too, is Pittsburgh.