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2014-15 Robert Morris Basketball: Colonials Keep it Rolling

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After a 22-14 season that saw the Colonials advance to the second round of the postseason NIT tournament, Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole is going to be retooling his squad coming into the 2014 season.

The Colonials were selected by Toole’s peers to finish third in the NEC, but they’ll have to mesh together as a team first, and with eight new players entering the program, Toole certainly has his work cut out for him.

Toole is entering his fifth year at the helm and boasts a 90-50 record over that span. However, this season could be one of his biggest challenges after graduating players like starting guards Anthony Myers-Pate and Karvel Anderson, who was selected as the NEC’s Player of the Year in 2013-2014. Of the eight new players, seven can expect to see playing time, only sophomore guard Jairus Lyles won’t see the court. Lyles is ineligible this season because he transferred from Virginia Commonwealth, but he will practice with the team.

Newcomers like guards Jafar Kinsey and Marcquise Reed will be asked to help pick up the slack after losing Myers-Pate and Anderson. Other first year players include swingmen Rodney Pryor and Ryan Skovranko, along with big men Elijah Minnie, from Lincoln Park High School in Midland, PA, and Andre Frederick and Lionel Gomes.

One constant on the court for the Robert Morris is senior swingman Lucky Jones. Along with having one of the best names in basketball, Jones has been a rock for the Colonials, starting 66 of 70 games the past two seasons. The 6-6 inch, 210-pound Jones averaged 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last year and was voted onto the 2013-14 All-NEC second team. He also produces when it counts, scoring 25 points and pulling down nine rebounds in RMU’s first-round NIT win over St. John’s last season. Jones has also been voted to the conference’s preseason All-NEC team to begin his senior year, and there’s no doubt he will be leaned on to provide leadership to an otherwise relatively young team. 

Jones will share the workload with senior guard David Appolon and junior forward Stephen Bennett. Those three will almost certainly be opening night starters; the other two starting slots are still up in the air.

The 6-8 freshman Minnie could fill one of the spots. Minnie was a highly touted recruit that led Lincoln Park to both WPIAL and PIAA Class A championships last season, averaging 15.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in the process. Minnie’s main competition for a starting job will be with junior Aaron Tate, who has the benefit of collegiate experience, giving him an edge in the competition.

Sophomore guard Kavon Stewart is another projected starter for the Colonials. Stewart played in 30 games last season, averaging 4.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. While his numbers aren’t staggering, Stewart did finish second on the team in assists last season with 84.

That unproven group will be asked to play a handful of tough non-conference games against some big-time competition, the Colonials second game of the season will be in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Nov. 16 to play the Tar Heels. A week from that game they’ll be in Washington D.C. on Nov. 22 to face the Georgetown Hoyas.

Those games against two big time programs will most certainly test the young Colonials squad that is out to prove itself and keep their new tradition of winning games against big opponents alive after beating Kentucky in 2012 and St. John’s last year.Robert Morris Andy Toole

Robert Morris will play their first home game Dec. 2 against Youngstown State. The Colonials will open Northeast Conference play Jan. 3, also at home, against Mount St. Mary’s.

2014-15 ROBERT MORRIS BASKETBALL
Head Coach: Andrew Toole, 5th season, 90-50
Last Season: 22-14, 14-2
Projected Starters: Kavon Stewart, David Appolon, Charles Oliver, Lucky Jones, Stephen Bennett
Key Non-Conference Games: at North Carolina (11/16), at Bradley (11/19), at Georgetown (11/22), at Clemson (12/30)

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