2008 NIT Capsule: Robert Morris
Robert Morris Colonials
Northeast Conference (26-7, 16-2)
Big Wins: 12/2 at Fordham (72-66), 1/7 at Boston College (57-51), 2/23 Wagner (74-52)
Bad Losses: 11/23 vs Drexel (40-56), 12/5 Central Michigan (72-83), St. Francis PA (66-75)
Coach: Mike Rice
Tony Lee, Senior, Guard, 13.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, 2.8 spg
Jimmy Langhurst, Sophomore, Guard, 9.5 ppg, 2.8 apg, 2.2 rpg
Bateko Francisco, Junior, Guard, 8.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Jeremy Chappell, Junior, Guard, 14.9 ppg, 2.3 apg, 4.8 rpg, 2.5 spg
A.J. Jackson, Senior, Forward, 14.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg
Gary Wallace, Freshman, Guard, 3.4 ppg, 1.3 apg
Mezie Nwigwe, Sophomore, Guard, 5.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Dallas Green, Sophomore, Forward, 2.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Freddie Harris, Senior, Center, 2.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
For many this is a year later than it was expected for Robert Morris to win the Northeast Conference. With a balanced scoring attack, a high risk defense and a whole lot of sharing the ball, the Colonials have worked their way into the post season this year instead. Of course a high risk defense has plenty of drawbacks, but it has worked pretty well for first year head coach Mike Rice. Guards Jeremy Chappell and Tony Lee combine for over five steals per game and that leads to plenty of fast break points the other way.
Chappell is also the leading scoring on the team and, along with Jimmy Langhurst and Bateko Francisco, knocks down the long ball with consistency. Lee will occasionally hit the outside shot, but the point guard is more effective getting to the basket. Add forward A.J. Jackson, who can hit his fair share of three balls, and RMU has five dynamic scorers who average at least eight points per game. On any given night, the team has multiple players who could explode and put up a ton of points in a hurry.
Why They Can Disappoint:
There are many reasons why Robert Morris allows its opponents to shoot about 45 percent from the floor. The aggressive defense gets the Colonials some easy buckets, but it works both ways. The team does not just create turnovers, they give them away too. Committing nearly 17 turnovers per contest has gotten the team through the NEC, but it will not lead to any upsets in March. The other big factor in creating a high shooting percentage for the opposition is a lack of a defensive presence in the paint. The lone forward in the starting lineup, Jackson, is only 6-6. Occasionally he will block some shots, but is not a major deterrent for opponents getting to the basket.
Who To Watch:
RMU does not have much of a bench, but Mezie Nwigwe and Gary Wallace can do a little scoring out of the backcourt. More important than adding more scorers is getting some production out of Dallas Green and Freddie Harris. At 6-8, Green and Harris will be the tallest players on the floor and helping out defensively and on the glass is imperative during those dozen minutes or so they see action per game.
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