Robert Morris 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview
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Robert Morris Colonials - Northeastern Conference (23-11, 15-3)
Seed: #15 - South Region
Big Wins: 1/2 Ohio (81-79), 1/4 Morgan State (78-75), 3/10 vs Quinnipiac (52-50)
Bad Losses: 11/16 at Penn State (61-80), 11/22 at Albany (66-71), 1/7 at LIU (64-74)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, First Round loss to Michigan State
Coach: Mike Rice (0-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Probable Robert Morris Starters:
Velton Jones, Freshman, Guard, 8.2 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 spg
Karon Abraham, Freshman, Guard, 13.4 ppg, 1.5 apg
Mezie Nwigwe, Senior, Guard, 8.2 ppg, 2.5 apg, 4.3 rpg
Rob Robinson, Senior, Forward, 9.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Dallas Green, Senior, Forward, 6.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Key Robert Morris Roleplayers:
Russell Johnson, Freshman, Forward, 7.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Brad Piehl, Freshman, Center, 1.9 ppg, 1.2 rpg
Gary Wallace, Junior, Guard, 5.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Josiah Whitehead, Senior, Forward, 3.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Why The Colonials Can Surprise:
Robert Morris has won games this season with their pressure defense and the emergence of a couple explosive freshmen. Karon Abraham would be playing in a major conference right now if he was not 5-9. But he is not a great ballhandler and that makes him a 5-9 shooting guard and he ended up at Robert Morris. Even Coach Mike Rice was hesitant to start the freshman right away, but he proved to be too valuable to leave on the bench. On the season Abraham is leading the team with 13.4 points and is easily the best outside shooter on the team, knocking down 2.4 long balls per game at an impressive 44.2 percent clip.
The other surprising freshman is Velton Jones. He is not the scorer that Abraham is and probably takes too many outside shots, but Jones is a quality defender and a capable playmaker. His turnover numbers are a little high, but that is not too surprising from a freshman. Mezie Nwigwe is the experienced option in the backcourt and has to be the leader on and off the floor. Nwigwe is a decent outside shooter, but he does most of his damage attacking the basket. Gary Wallace is a great shooter off the bench and provides the Colonials with yet another offensive weapon in the backcourt.
Why The Colonials Can Disappoint:
Losing Jimmy Langhurst 11 games into the season with a knee injury really forced the backcourt to become a lot younger than Coach Rice hoped and that could be a problem when the pressure is on in March. Langhurst was a nice outside shooting option and a senior leader and now just about all the outside shooting will have to come from Abraham. The other concern, especially when talking about a team like Robert Morris trying to win a game or two in the tournament, is size and rebounding. Dallas Green and Russell Johnson have done a fine job on the glass, but neither are that big or strong. Johnson is more of a wing than a big man, but he will spend time at the four spot when necessary. With Josiah Whitehead and Brad Piehl available off the bench, Robert Morris has plenty of bodies, but most of them are undersized and will get outmatched by a decent frontcourt.
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Who To Watch for Robert Morris:
The one big man who can battle with some of the better big men in the country is Rob Robinson. He ranks second on the team in scoring and leads the team in rebounding. Robinson is also a decent shot blocker and a pretty good passer for a 6-8, 215 pound senior. As long as Robinson can neutralize the frontcourt, Abraham, Nwigwe and Jones will make things happen on the perimeter and a hot shooting night means Robert Morris can pull off an upset.
Robert Morris By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.0 (174th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.2 (117, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.8 (159, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (69, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (219, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.6 (70, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.7 (239, 6)
Rebound Margin: 1.5 (138, 4)
Assists Per Game: 12.7 (188, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.7 (242, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Villanova