A storybook ending is something that exists for a reason -- because it comes in the final pages of a book or the final scene of a film. Once an ultimate goal has been accomplished for someone, the narrative simply comes to a close.
But for Robert Morris, no such reality exists.
Not even a week removed from a home victory against Kentucky that made the 4,000-student school the talk of the college basketball world for 24 hours, the Colonials (24-10) hope to continue their season as they travel to take on Providence tonight in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Though the victory against the defending NCAA champion Wildcats was likely the most important in program history, a number of questions remain -- namely, how does a team coming off its biggest moment of the season respond?
Robert Morris (24-10) vs. Providence (18-14), 7 p.m. today, Dunkin' Donuts Center, Providence, R.I.
- TV, Radio, Internet:
ESPNews, WPIT-AM (730), rmucolonials.com.
- Robert Morris:
Coming off 59-57 victory Tuesday vs. Kentucky. ... Since starting the season 8-7, the Colonials have gone 16-3. ... Four players -- guards Karvel Anderson and Velton Jones, and forwards Lucky Jones and Russell Johnson -- are averaging double figures in scoring.
Coming off 75-66 victory Wednesday vs. Charlotte. ... G Bryce Cotton leads the team in scoring at 19.6 points per game and was a first-team all-Big East Conference honoree.
- Hidden stat:
The Colonials went 14 of 14 from the free-throw line vs. Kentucky, the first time they've made all their free throws with at least five attempts.
The mental aspect of the Robert Morris team was discussed at length going into the Kentucky game, as to whether the Colonials would be intimated or star-struck, and it comes into play again against the Friars (18-14), albeit in a different way.
The challenge of keeping his team grounded after an emotionally charged win is foremost on coach Andy Toole's mind.
"It's the biggest part, for every game, whether you get too high or get too low or anywhere in between -- making sure they have a healthy respect for what they're going to face, but also that they're prepared and confident that they can go and execute things," Toole said. "It's the hardest part, it really is, and it's maybe the most important part."
The trip to Providence's Dunkin' Donuts Center will be the team's first since losing to Villanova at the venue in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament, a game in which Robert Morris lost in overtime.
Until the win against Kentucky, that game was likely the most famous in the program's history and for guard Velton Jones, one of the three players who was on the 2009-10 team, it has been special to have been a part of both moments.
"It's actually one of the sole reasons that I came to Robert Morris was to come to a program where you're not really known, not too big," Jones said. "I wanted to try to turn it into a Gonzaga or something like that. I think those two games are the reasons I came here -- help put Robert Morris on the map."
Its name doesn't come with the same cache as Kentucky, but Providence will present a number of challenges, especially after having played through the rigors of the Big East Conference this season.
Since early February, the Friars have won eight of 11 games after an underwhelming 10-11 start. Perhaps most pressing for the Colonials is the way that Providence matches up to their biggest strength -- 3-point shooting, where the Friars have held opponents to 28.9 percent this season, the seventh-best mark among Division I teams.
A common connection exists between Robert Morris and its opponent in that former Friars standout and current Providence assistant coach God Shammgod is the uncle of Colonials guard Anthony Myers-Pate.
With a family member sitting on the opposite sideline, Myers-Pate, and his teammates, know that each game is an opportunity to extend their season and with a chance to make the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York with two more wins, there's still pride and motivation at stake.
"Me and Velton talked about it, 'We beat Kentucky now, why not try to get to the Garden?' " Myers-Pate said. "We don't have anything to lose."mobilehome - rmusports
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer.