MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Robert Morris Head Coach Andy Toole not only has a season-opening win but also possesses something almost as valuable: he now has tape.
Following Robert Morris’s shutdown from COVID-19, it returned to practice this week, but did not do so as a full team until Friday. Friday, as in the day before the first game of the season.
Robert Morris was able to take care of business defending its home court, winning 75-57 against Point Park at the UPMC Events Center.
“I think there were some things we did tonight that I definitely liked,” Toole said. “There certainly was a lot we could get better at. Consistency on offensive and defensive sides of the ball, executing our formula, staying engaged, not having some of the breakdowns we had. It is a great tape we can teach off of.”
Robert Morris will have to exert more physicality against a taller and more physical West Virginia team that also happens to rank 11th in the country.
The Colonials lost the rebounding battle 29-25 Saturday night, a statistic which was definitely noticed.
“We have some catching up to do,” said Toole. “We’re going to have to teach off the tape and hope that guys really start to grasp these concepts because now that we’ve started, we’ll continue to have games rolling through here. We’ve got to be better that’s for sure.”
• As senior forward AJ Bramah exited the Robert Morris media room, Point Park coach Joe Lewandowski could not help but pay him quite the compliment saying the RMU forward reminded him of Obi Toppin.
Bramah excelled showing touch around, recorded multiple dunks and led by example, something RMU will need all season long.
“That’s one thing that I’ve been really working on,” he said. “We have a lot of freshmen, so I know that there are going to be hiccups and people are going to mess up. I have to motivate them and keep encouraging them. We have a lot of growth to do but we are learning about that as a leader.”
• Robert Morris fans were all quite familiar with four of its starting five in Bramah, Jon Williams, Dante Treacy and Charles Bain but one newcomer made the starting five in guard Enoch Cheeks.
Cheeks showed an early presence in the game finding open shots and grabbing multiple rebounds, but cooled off after the fast start finished this contest with 21 minutes. Toole stated Cheeks earned his starting spot in practice and ability to bring energy to the court.
“We felt he earned the opportunity to be out there on the court,” Toole said. “I’m hard on Enoch because he has a chance to be a really good player, there’s a lot for him to continue to learn and so many ways for him to continue to grow and understand the college game but he certainly has a lot of talent and a lot of gifts that you can’t teach. I thought he started the game excellently and then he got a little frustrated at times and you saw some freshman moments but overall it was a positive first game for him.”
• Last year was a freshman year that forward Olisa Ngonadi would want to forget. Toole could sense his post player was frustrated with his lack of playing time and as a result production.
Instead of settling for being disappointed with this role, Ngonadi worked to raise his game and on Saturday was rewarded with 18 minutes and he scored 13 points on four-of-five shooting and eight rebounds, both of which are career highs.
“I was very excited for him, because I’ve seen his growth,” Bramah said. “Last year not really playing and being frustrated, and then coming in as a sophomore and making big plays. We’ve seen in practice how much he has improved, so to see him go out, compete hard and make big plays, I was very excited for him.”
HE SAID IT
“I thought the beginning of each half we had some urgency and then it kind of waned as the half went on, which is a little bit disappointing. You want to have that entire sustained effort in the 40 minutes. I honestly think it was some guys getting their first opportunity and experience in Division-I Basketball so you understand there are going to be some jitters. Some of the plays that happened defensively, we could clip the game tonight and clip a practice clip and it would be exactly the same. The idea is the old adage of ‘you practice the way you play’. We need more guys keeping the intensity high in practice, being detailed in the execution of our defensive formula in order to sustain the effort as we go to the bench and as guys rotate throughout the game.” – Toole