While Pitt and Duquesne have already released their non-conference men’s basketball schedules, Robert Morris is still dealing with some uncertainty as to where the Colonials will play all their home games this upcoming season.
School officials said a majority of the team’s home contests will be played at PPG Paints Arena, but are also working with other venues in the area to serve as alternative home sites.
“There more than likely will be a few games that aren’t going to be able to be played at PPG for various reasons,” assistant athletic director and head of media relations Jim Duzyk said. “We’re in the process of trying to find an alternate venue for the instances when those games that can’t be played at PPG.”
Duzyk added until the university solidifies which venues work best, the school will hold off releasing the team’s schedule.
Another factor at work is the Northeast Conference, which has yet to unveil a composite schedule. Duzyk said the league has worked with Robert Morris to provide the most dates available to play conference games at PPG. He anticipates the league slate will be finalized in the next few weeks.
While fans wait for an official release, some of the non-conference schedule is coming into focus as other schools make their official announcements.
Robert Morris opens the season Friday, Nov. 10, at Ohio State in Chris Holtmann’s high-profile coaching debut with the Buckeyes.
The Colonials then head west to play Grand Canyon Nov. 13 and travel down the parkway Nov. 19 to face cross-town rival Duquesne at the Palumbo Center. They have a road contest at Youngstown State Nov. 29 and begin a new home-and-home series with Rider Dec. 6. That tilt will be played in Pittsburgh, but the arena has not been determined yet. Disney’s Frozen on Ice occupies PPG Dec. 2-5, and the Penguins host the Arizona Coyotes Dec. 7, signaling the game might be played at another venue.
Drexel and Robert Morris will square off at PPG Dec. 10, and the Colonials travel north six days later to face Buffalo.
Norfolk State announced Friday it will play Robert Morris in the Little Rock Tournament Nov. 24, indicating the Colonials will participate in an early season tournament for the seventh straight season.
As of Thursday, Robert Morris was one of five NEC schools yet to announce if it will participate in an non-conference tournament (Long Island, St. Francis (N.Y.), St. Francis (Pa.), and Wagner), according to SB Nation’s bloggingthebracket.com.
Eighth-year head coach Andy Toole finalized his roster Wednesday when junior college transfer Taevon Ashmeade announced his commitment to the Colonials. Ashmeade is one of four incoming transfers in addition to a five-man recruiting class. Robert Morris only returns four scholarship players from a team that went 14-19 last season and lost in the conference tournament semifinals.
The university announced in January plans to break ground on the new $50 million UPMC Events Center, a 140,000-square foot complex on campus that will house the basketball and volleyball teams. It will replace the 30-year old Sewall Center, which was closed for good in June, forcing school officials to look for a temporary home for the men’s basketball squad. Construction was set to start in July but has been delayed.
Robert Morris played a pair of games at PPG last year, defeating Duquesne and Buffalo.
2017-18 ROBERT MORRIS CONFIRMED MEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 10 at Ohio State
Nov. 13 at Grand Canyon
Nov. 19 at Duquesne
Nov. 24 vs. Norfolk State
Nov. 29 at Youngstown St.
Dec. 6 vs. Rider
Dec. 10 vs. Drexel
Dec. 16 at Buffalo