ShareThis Page
College

RMU learning underdog role

Paul Schofield
| Friday, March 20, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- When the Robert Morris basketball team took the floor Thursday at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for practice, Colonials coach Mike Rice didn't pull out a tape measure.

He didn't re-enact the famous scene from the movie "Hoosiers" by having guard Jimmy Langhurst get on the shoulders of his teammate, Will Royal, to measure the height of the basket, or measure the distance of the foul line.

Robert Morris is similar to Hickory High, the fictional Indiana school the movie is based on, because it will be a 17-point underdog to No. 2 seed Michigan State. Still, Rice plans to use his own tactics to prepare his team for the game.

The Colonials (24-10) battle Big Ten Conference power Michigan State (26-6) at 9:50 p.m. today in the NCAA Midwest Regional. This is the Colonials' sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Robert Morris is not only an underdog, the Colonials are an unknown.

"Before Sunday, I didn't know there was a school named Robert Morris," Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas said. "They're a good team. They shoot the 3 well, so that's something we must defend."

Michigan State guard Travis Walton was familiar with Robert Morris' location in Moon, but not much else.

"Robert Morris, that's where the 5-Star (Howard Garfinkel's) camp is held," said Walton. who is from Lima, Ohio. "That's an Ohio thing, we go to 5-Star."

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said he knows Robert Morris because of the camp.

"I've coached there," he said. "I know what it's all about. Mike is doing an excellent job with them."

North Dakota State, which plays Kansas at 12:30 p.m., is in the same situation as the Colonials. It is a big underdog to the defending NCAA champion, and it is trying to gain national attention for its upstart program.

"Bring it on," North Dakota State coach Saul Phillips said. "We'll take everything that comes are way. There is no way a team was well-coached as Kansas is going to overlook us. We are going to have to play very well."

Robert Morris will be trying the improbable as a No. 15 seed trying to beat a No. 2 seed. It's only happened four times: Richmond (1991), Santa Clara (1993), Coppin State (1997) and Hampton (2001).

"This is our time to shine," Robert Morris guard Jeremy Chappell said. "We're gaining a lot of attention for the school.

"We're not just looking to play well, we want to win."

Rice, a second-year coach, has compiled an impressive 50-18 record at Robert Morris. He was an assistant coach at Pitt, Marquette, Fordham and St. Joseph when they made the NCAA Tournament, so he understands his task.

"We understand what challenges we face," Rice said. "No one's thinking we have a chance. I just told the team we're going to break the game into four minutes segments. We're going to play and compete every four minutes.

"Winning a whole game against a Big Ten champion doesn't look good. Competing and winning every four minutes is what we're going to talk about."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me