#124 Robert Morris Men's Basketball Preview

Robert Morris Colonials

Overall Rank: #124
Conference Rank: #2 Northeast

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2010-11: 18-14, 12-6
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Andrew Toole (18-14 at Robert Morris, 18-14 overall)

Coach Andrew Toole did a fine job during his first year with Robert Morris, leading the Colonials to a 12-6 conference record. They failed to reach a postseason tournament, but that was a young team with just one senior on the roster. That bodes well for the future, but this group is still pretty young as there is yet again just one senior on the roster. RMU has the weapons to make a run at the NEC title, but next year is when the Colonials will be really, really good.

Who’s Out:
The suspension of Karon Abraham for the 2011-2012 season is the main reason Robert Morris will not likely run away with the conference crown. Abraham led the team with 13.9 points per game a year ago and proved to be a superb outside shooter. Abraham was even starting to develop into a solid all-around scorer and he will certainly be missed. Fellow guard Gary Wallace provided some leadership during his senior campaign in 2010-2011. However, Wallace was also a fine rebounding guard and that is something this team may lack. Part-time starter Yann Charles will not return after averaging 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman.

Who’s In:
Coach Toole went nine deep last season, so there are minutes to go around for the newcomers if RMU wants to be able to keep players fresh again this season. The biggest need is depth in the frontcourt and by December the Colonials should have it with Iona transfer Mike McFadden. The 6-8, 220 pound sophomore will have to sit out the first semester, but he should fit right into the regular rotation once he is eligible. Keith Armstrong is not much of a scorer, but the wide-bodied freshman has the potential to help out on the glass right away. At 6-9, Darren Washington is the tallest player on the roster and is a relatively polished big man for a freshman. He has some decent interior moves, but is also a solid shot blocker and rebounder. Brandon Herman, who was a McDonald’s All-American nominee in 2010 should give the backcourt an immediate boost. It may be difficult for him to find a starting job right away, but he is certainly talented enough to push for a starting gig. David Appolon will likely spend the 2011-2012 campaign coming in off of the bench, but he can do a little bit of everything.

Who to Watch:
The departure of Gary Wallace will hurt the backcourt more than it would appear. Velton Jones, Coron Williams and Anthony Myers are all fine players, but none of them are as effective on the glass as Wallace was. That may lead to some rebounding problems. Myers did average 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman, but he is just 5-11. Myers will likely take over the starting point guard duties after tallying 4.2 points and 3.6 assists per game last season. That will allow Jones to work off of the ball. After averaging 12.1 points per game last season, Jones will be the team’s go-to-scorer and take most of the big shots for Robert Morris. That leaves Coron Williams to start at the three spot. Williams does have decent size at 6-2, but he is not a rebounder. Williams is a shooter…and a darn good shooter. As a freshman last season he connected on 46.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. He was just a part-time starter, but this group may need him on the floor more often this year without Abraham’s outside shooting.

Final Projection:
The frontcourt may need the newcomers to provide some depth, but Russell Johnson, Lijah Thompson and Lawrence Bridges all have starting experience. Johnson is the most intriguing player due to his versatility. It is hard to take any of the three returning guards out of the starting lineup, but if their lack of rebounding becomes too much of an issue, Johnson may spend some time at the small forward position. At 6-6, Johnson is a versatile scorer who can hit the long ball or battle in the paint and he will have to keep being tough on the glass after leading the squad with 6.7 rebounds last season. Thompson will stay inside and is the team’s best shot blocker. He is also developing into a decent interior scorer and should be able to improve on his 8.6 point and 4.4 rebound average now that he is an upperclassman. Bridges is the lone senior on the roster. He is not much of a scorer, but he is another candidate to spend some time at the three spot. If some of the new big guys can make an immediate impact, Robert Morris will have the option to play big or small depending on the competition. Either way, this is a talented team that has all the tools to win the NEC.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Anthony Myers, Sophomore, Guard, 4.2 points per game
Velton Jones, Junior, Guard, 12.1 points per game
Coron Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Russell Johnson, Junior, Forward, 11.0 points per game
Lijah Thompson, Junior, Center, 8.6 points per game

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