Over the weekend, Robert Morris was swept by conference foe Youngstown State, losing both home games in nail-biting, overtime affairs. The two losses extended the Colonials’ losing streak to eight, dating all the way back to the Jan. 15 loss against UIC.
In what seems to be a never-ending cycle of close game after close game this season for head coach Andy Toole, wins have been a scarcity.
“This has been a challenge on many levels on the court, off the court, and they continue to fight,” Toole said after the loss on Friday. “That’s what you want out of your team. As a coach, I want them to experience some success with the fight. I want them to be able to make those one or two plays that happen sometime during the course of the game that swing the game in someone else’s favor. I want those things to happen for us, and we haven’t been able to get it, we haven’t been able to do it.”
The Colonials last win came against Milwaukee back on Jan. 1. Since then, they have lost all eight matchups, including four in overtime. During the streak, the Colonials have lost by an average of 9.6 points, a number that increased greatly after a 30-point loss to Wright State.
“We are not going to stop fighting, we are not going to stop pushing them,” Toole said. “We’re going to keep challenging them to be better because we still have games to be played and we still have the opportunity to put our jersey on, so we are going to keep fighting as best we can until someone tells us we can’t anymore.”
AJ Bramah has clearly been the best player for the Colonials this season, averaging 21 points and 10.3 rebounds on the season. In the six out of eight games during the streak that he played in, Bramah has had five double-doubles, including two games with a season-high 16 rebounds.
In each of the two games against Youngstown State, Bramah left the bench for short periods of time and appeared frustrated with himself. While the reason for his frustration is private and unknown, it is clear that this season’s struggles and all that is going on in 2020 has been tough on the veteran.
#RMU's AJ Bramah looks upset as he comes back to the bench after a made layup. Talking with the team trainer with his head down. Didn't see him get hurt or anything while he was out there. Something to keep an eye on during the second half. pic.twitter.com/KDdtvLwGXr
— George Michalowski (@MichalowskiCBB) February 6, 2021
“I can’t really talk too much about it because of privacy,” Toole said after Friday’s game. “But again, this year physically for our guys has been a struggle. Some of those physical challenges then present some mental frustration as well. Our guys want to be playing at the level that they know they are capable of and feeling the way that they’re used to feeling on the court and that’s been a hard thing for them this year. But to their credit, they continued to battle.”
Another bright spot for the Colonials has been the play of their young freshman, including Trayden Williams. In Saturday’s loss, Williams scored inside and out and delivered a career-high 16 points.
“I believe we need to improve on defense more and more, [be] more urgent on defense, and the little details,” Williams said after Saturday’s game. “We knock out the little things, we’ll be in a good position. In the locker room, guys are down, but we keep our head high because we know we’re building, we’re building, we’re building, we’re going to be ok.”
Robert Morris (3-11, 2-9 Horizon) will look to snap the skid in its next game when it takes on Oakland in a two-game set on Feb. 12 and 13 at home. Oakland is currently ranked fifth in the conference, with an 8-8 league record.