MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — “Hopefully we can have a better crowd (in the championship) than we had today,”
That’s what Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole said after his team routed LIU in the semifinal of the Northeast Conference tournament just a few days ago.
It’s been well documented this year how RMU has a brand-new basketball arena. This RMU squad had been in the top three of the conference standings throughout the year and battled down the stretch of the regular season to take hold of the No. 1 seed throughout the conference tournament.
So, why haven’t the seats been getting as much use throughout the season?
In an NEC semifinal game on a Saturday afternoon in March, the arena was maybe half full. Toole, rightfully so, thought his guys deserved more support, as they were just one win away from making it to the NCAA tournament.
Well, midway through the day on Tuesday, Robert Morris announced that the NEC championship game against the Colonials and Saint Francis was sold out.
The only other RMU game this season that was sold out was back in November when they hosted Pitt for the grand opening of the new digs. But when you look back to that crowd, it didn’t come close to the energy that roared throughout Moon Township this time around.
“The energy was great today,” RMU forward AJ Bramah said. “This is the best time of my life, I’m at a loss for words.”
Moments after the Colonials sealed the deal against the Red Flash and officially stamped their ticket to the Big Dance, all 500-plus Robert Morris students — who were directly under the hoop on the opposite end of the RMU’s bench — raced to center court celebrating with their classmates, who just so happen to be decent at basketball.
“I describe it as bliss,” point guard Jon Williams added about the special moment. “I’m just so happy right now. … It hasn’t even kicked in all the way, but it’s so special.”
There were a ton of those special moments on Peoples Court on Tuesday. Whether it was the first half Colonials run sparked by sophomore Dante Treacy and the team’s stingy defensive effort, or in the second half when Josh Williams hit a pair of contested 3’s, or the final dagger when Bramah had a putback dunk that put the crowd into a frenzy. The whole second half was filled with excitement that stemmed from the Colonials’ play and from their fans who were right on their backs, fueling the passionate performance.
Toole said Saturday, “We have a lot of room on the bandwagon, we’d love for people to come and join.”
Barring a remarkable week from either Pitt or Duquesne in their respective conference tournaments, the Colonials are going to be the only program representing Pittsburgh when the Madness officially begins on March 15th.