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Robert Morris Basketball

Lack of Practice, Improvised Schedule Presenting Early-Season Challenges for RMU

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MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Robert Morris men’s basketball coach Andy Toole was very straightforward when he stated how many practices his team had leading up to Friday night’s tilt against Bowling Green:

“One.”

It had been 13 days since RMU’s season-opening victory over Point Park and the program had to hit a pause button due to COVID-19 protocols which halted a road contest against West Virginia and further scheduling plans beyond that.

An 85-65 loss to Bowling Green certainly was not what Robert Morris was looking for but it was a setback in which AJ Bramah and Jon Williams both were in foul trouble which forced some younger combinations onto the court.

Still it was clear fatigue was a factor, most notably in the second half and with mistakes being repeated throughout the contest.

“We talk about playing off two feet and there were times where we were barreling in there,” Toole said. “We’ve got to play with more control. A lot of times if guys are setting up to take charges against you which means you’ve drawn a crowd. If you draw a crowd it might be time to move the ball and that is something we can talk about, we’ll look at and communicate to our guys.”

A lot of times these issues could be improved in practice, but for Robert Morris that has not been a possibility. As a leader, Williams knows other teams will not feel sorry for RMU’s situation and that it does not change the end goal, which is to win.

“It’s tough especially coming from winning games and a championship,” he said. “You don’t want to see those things but it is a new team. We have to be in their ear. Obviously experience is the best teacher. We don’t have that identity yet and we haven’t had enough scar tissue. Either you’re going to like winning or hate it and it will make you change your actions. For me if you’re on my team, you’re going to hear it. I hold myself to a high standard so my expectations for everybody else is at that standard. If you don’t want to be at that standard it’s going to show and I’ll point it out. It’s going to eat me up for a couple of days before our next game.”

A LAST-MINUTE ADDITION

With COVID-19, daily routines can change on a dime and teams across the country have a variety of game experience this season. Friday night was Bowling Green’s seventh contest of the season, while Robert Morris was facing its first D-I opponent of the season.

Given the many different places teams are at, schedules are written lightly in pencil across the country and plans change on numerous occasions.

Robert Morris officially announced on Friday that it will travel to face Marshall Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours after its contest with Bowling Green ended.

Toole stated that he hopes moving forward all contests will be Horizon League tilts and everyone can stay healthy.

“It’s what it’s been,” he said. “It is constant communication and texts back and forth between coaching staffs. It’s just been nonstop since the year started. I’m getting texts asking if I can play Dec. 23 at LSU and we can’t, but those kinds of things are getting sent every day across the country. When you have one possibility if that one is negated, you have to circle the wagons again, you reach out to your contacts and see if someone else is looking.”

Williams also had a take on the situation which he considered nerve wracking.

“You have to take advantage of the opportunity you are giving,” said Williams. “You have to be more appreciative and give what the moment requires. Not everybody gets to play this game and not at this level.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
 
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