Robert Morris University's front line will be getting a boost tonight, and it could not come at a better time.
Sophomore forward Mike McFadden, who transferred from Iona last year, will be eligible for the first time when the Colonials (7-3, 2-0 Northeast Conference) take on Louisiana-Lafayette (5-7) in a non-conference game at the Charles Sewall Center. McFadden will try to help offset the loss of 6-foot-7 Lijah Thompson, who will be sidelined for approximately two weeks with a broken foot.
Freshman Keith Armstrong, who is 6-7, will likely make his first career start in Thompson's place, but McFadden (6-8) and freshman Darren Washington (6-9) will also have increased roles with Thompson out.
"When I spoke with Keith and I spoke with Darren, I told them we don't really know how things are going to play out," Colonials coach Andy Toole said. "But I know that if they're not ready for their opportunity, it might be the only one they get."
- Matchup: Louisiana-Lafayette (5-7) vs. Robert Morris (7-3), 7 p.m., Charles Sewall Center, Moon Township.
- Radio, Internet: WPIT-AM (730), rmucolonials.com.
- Robert Morris: Has had nine days off since 62-58 loss to Cleveland State Dec. 8. ... Guard Velton Jones leads the team with 19.2 points and 2.6 assists per game. ... Jones has scored in double-figures in 16 games in a row, dating to last season. ... Despite loss against Cleveland State, Colonials are 21-8 under coach Andrew Toole when holding opponents under 70 points.
- Louisiana-Lafayette: Lost to Ole Miss, 66-54, Wednesday. ... Coach Bob Marlin is in his second season with the Ragin' Cajuns after 12 years at Sam Houston State. ... Kadeem Coleby, J.J. Thomas and Darshawn McClellan average more than 10 points per game. ... Average 37.1 rebounds per game.
- Hidden stat: The Colonials have won 33 consecutive games in which they shoot at least 30 free throws.
As the two freshmen continue to adjust to college basketball, McFadden will look to work off the rust after sitting out for a year and a half due to NCAA transfer rules. As a freshman with the Gaels, he averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
"I've never sat out from basketball this long in my entire life," McFadden said. "Just being able to be on the court again is exhilarating."
Toole said the exact rotation was still a work in progress, but that McFadden would definitely get a chance to work out the kinks in his game after such a long time off the court.
"Is there going to be rust? I'm sure," Toole said. "It's impossible not to have some kind of rust, but he's going to get the opportunity to play through some mistakes."
McFadden may be essential in defending a Louisiana-Lafayette squad that averages 71.7 points per game. The Ragin' Cajuns are led by 6-9 forward Kadeem Coleby, who averages 10.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
"That's always a cause for concern," Toole said of Coleby. "He has the ability to go get a double-double pretty much every night."
The teams tip off at 7 tonight.
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1459