A week ago, the Robert Morris men’s basketball team matched up against one of the upper echelon teams in all of college basketball, the Duke Blue Devils. After beating the North Florida Ospreys in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 81-77, the Colonials would go on to lose in the second round to the Duke Blue Devils, 85-56.
After finishing the season 20-15, the seventh season out of the last eight they have had 20 or more wins, the Colonials and fans alike have a lot to look forward to next season.
“We have some incredible guys in the locker room, and they’re going to be back next year to do it again.” said senior guard Lucky Jones after the loss last Friday.
Jones finished his career at Robert Morris with 1,632 points and 846 rebounds, putting him at the top of Robert Morris’ all time charts. During his four years at Robert Morris, the Colonials won 92 games, the highest in program history over that time period.
With all five of the players who started against Duke last week most likely coming back next season, the Colonials have high expectations.
Junior guard Rodney Pryor will be a force next year. Averaging 21 points in his final nine games, the soon-to-be senior will be an offensive catalyst for the Colonials. Pryor, who has already been an active leader on the team, will need to step up even further to help the younger players.
Speaking of young players, Robert Morris has two that could grow into future stars for the team if they have not already done so.
Freshman Marcquise Reed dropped 22 points against the Blue Devils and 19 against North Florida in the first round. Reed averaged 15.1 points per game behind only Pryor.
Something fans were able to witness during the games against North Florida and Duke was his superb ball handling and his ability to drive the lane, something Robert Morris will need to use to their advantage next season.
Freshman Elijah Minnie can be a stud for the Colonials as well with his ability to rebound and score well from both the paint and parameter. Over the course of the seven-game winning streak by Robert Morris, Minnie averaged 10.3 points per game and 7.7 rebounds.
Head coach of Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, had some good things to say about the team moving on with these players:
“Those kids can really score the ball,” Krzyzewski said. “Pryor has special abilities. He’s not just a good player, but he also rises to the occasion. They have two really good young players in Reed and Minnie.”
While the team still has to address the status of junior Stephan Bennett after being suspended from an incident in the South Side, the Colonials look to have junior Lionel Gomis, sophomore Kavon Stewart and freshman Andre Frederick all back on the team.
Now that the season is over, head coach Andy Toole and the rest of his staff can begin to focus on recruiting more players to a team that has high upside. Robert Morris has been able to lock up local Chartiers Valley High School guard Matt McConnell and Union Catholic High School forward Isaiah Still from New Jersey. It will look to use the NEC and NCAA tournament run as a big talking point to add more players who can crash the boards and score elusively.
Players, students and fans should all expect to see Robert Morris in a similar position next season. If the Colonials are able to gain some size and crash the boards more often, expect them to perform better during the regular season next year.
Toole, at the helm of the Colonials, will look to bring more size and rebounders over the coming months as he and his staff look to add more players to the team. Toole will be going into his 10th season at Robert Morris, seventh as a head coach.