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College Basketball: Robert Morris Preview

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The Robert Morris Colonials were picked to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference this year, which is their lowest ranking since 2005.

The offseason was a turbulent ones for the Colonials. They were forced to watch as four players transferred to other schools this spring, including leading scorer Rodney Pryor, who averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds a game last year as a sophomore. Pryor wound up at Georgetown. Center Stephen Bennett transferred to IUPUI and guards Steven Whitley (Norfolk State) and Andre Frederick (undecided as of this writing) have also left thwe program.

Additionally, the Colonials lost power forward Elijah Minnie during the season last year after a string of suspensions. Minnie is now at Eastern Michigan.

The transfers occured on the heels of a 10-22 campaign, one of the worst seasons in recent RMU history.

The Colonials do return three starters from that team last year, however: Kavon Stewart, Matty McConnell and Billy Giles.

Giles led the Northeast Conference in field goal percentage, hitting 60.6 percent of his shots on the season.

The team will also benefit from the return of forward Aaron Tate. The redshirt senior was injured for the season after only three games last year. Tate will be a force in the paint for the Colonials, as he is the team’s leading rebounder.

The team’s non-conference schedule is highlighted by a trip to play the Virginia Cavaliers on December 17th. Robert Morris will play two teams at PPG Paints Arena this season: Duquesne on December 6th and Buffalo on December 21st.

KEY PLAYER: Isaiah Still (6’6”, 190 lbs)
The sophomore guard is the top returning scorer from last season for the Colonials. He averaged just under 10 points and 3.8 rebounds as a freshman. If the Colonials are going to beat their mediocre expectations this year, look for it to be because Still took his game to the next level in only his second year. With so many departures, Still could be the one to fill the void as the one who carries the team.

TOP NEWCOMER: Lorenzen Wright Jr (6'3", 190 lbs)
In the midst of RMU’s departures, head coach Andy Toole knew he had to go out and find some more bodies to add to the team for some immediate assistance. One of those players is Lorenzen Wright Jr, a junior college transfer from the state of Tennessee. The son of a 13-year NBA veteran, Wright certainly has the tools to become a great player. He is looking to prove his worth as legitimate division I talent, so do not be surprised if he has a breakout year for a team who needs players to fill some important roles.

WHAT WE'LL LEARN BEFORE CONFERENCE PLAY: Which way this program is headed.
Although Robert Morris only won 10 games last year, 8 of those wins came during conference play. This means they went an astonishingly bad 2-12 in their non-conference schedule. If they can vastly improve their start to the season this year, not only would that bolster their win total, but it would give the team more confidence Robert Morris Matty McConnellheading into conference play than last year. Only two years removed from the team’s 2014-15 NEC Championship title and tournament berth, the direction of this program is in the balance as this season approaches. Will they return to the NEC prominence they enjoyed for most of the past decade, or will they take another step toward mediocrity?

Robert Morris begins their season on November 11th at home against Penn. As usual, their non-conference slate is brutal, with trips to Bucknell, Richmond, Kansas State and Virginia on the docket.

Their NEC schedule begins on the road at Sacred Heart on December 29th.

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