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Robert Morris

Reeling Robert Morris brings Toole to wits' end

Paul Schofield
| Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, 10:04 p.m.

The struggles of the Robert Morris basketball team this season extends beyond wins and losses.

From the start, coach Andy Toole is having a problem getting to play his way.

Robert Morris (3-15, 1-4 Northeast Conference) is experiencing its worse season since 2000-01, when the Colonials finished 7-22 in Danny Nee's only season as coach.

The Colonials are headed the wrong way, and the sixth-year coach is going crazy trying to turn things around.

Robert Morris is 113-80 under Toole and has won 18 or more games in each of his first five seasons.

The team is coming off an NCAA berth in 2014-15, has played in two NITs, beating Kentucky and St. John's, and one trip to the Tournament.

So why is this season different?

“I'm having a problem getting this team to come together,” said Toole as the Colonials prepare to host Fairleigh Dickinson (8-8, 4-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday. “It's driving me insane. The players don't believe what you say.

“There is no buy-in of me. We can show film after film, possession after possession and yet there is no buy-in of the program. Guys will walk out of those video sessions and say we fabricated or altered the film.”

Toole said the team prides itself in rebounding, defending and taking care of the basketball. In many of their losses, they have failed to do all three.

The one player Toole looks at as a leader is junior point guard Kavon Stewart. He has played well so far in the conference. He has 82 assists this season and scored 12 points in a 76-52 loss to Mount St. Mary's on Thursday.

The Colonials' leading scorer is senior guard Rodney Pryor (20.2 points per game), who didn't play against Mount St. Mary's after suffering a concussion when he collided with Andre Frederick in practice. Frederick also missed the game.

“Obviously, Rodney provides some stability for us offensively,” Toole said. “He can make bad possessions into good ones because he's a shot maker. But I was frustrated with the effort level and bad movement we had Thursday.

“There are numbers of times we see the same plays occur with no adjustment. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It's what we do, either in practice settings or game.”

Stewart said the team doesn't always follow the game plan, and it's getting frustrated.

“It's been our problem all year, we're waiting until the last minute to start playing,” Stewart said. “We're trying to play catch up, and you can't do that.”

Freshman guard Matty McConnell said the team has to come out and play with intensity from the start.

“We have to continue to keep playing,” he said. “We have to move forward and stay positive.”

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