Three keys to Robert Morris’ men’s basketball season in 2012-13 ...
1. INTEGRATING THE NEWCOMERS
On a team with six new scholarship players and only five who were at the school two years ago, new faces will be called upon to fill major roles. Freshman Kavon Stewart, working behind Anthony Myers-Pate, will work to fill the point-guard void left by Velton Jones. Junior-college transfers Desjuan Newton and Charles Oliver will be expected to replace the production of shooting guard Coron Williams, who transferred to Wake Forest. Versatile big man Jeremiah Worthem likely will play major minutes in what looks to be a thin frontcourt. How these newcomers perform could dictate how far the Colonials go.
2. AN INSIDE PRESENCE
Under Mike Rice and now, Andy Toole, Robert Morris never consistently has had a lot of big men on its roster, something that is especially true this year. After the graduation of Russell Johnson and the departure of Lijah Thompson, the Colonials have two players — senior Mike McFadden and sophomore Stephan Hawkins — who are taller than 6 feet 6. Not only will the team’s big men have to assert themselves offensively, but they also will have to pick it up on the glass. With Johnson gone, the team has just one player with a rebounding percentage of .150 or better — 6-6 small forward Lucky Jones.
3. BECOMING BALANCED
Robert Morris’ path to a Northeast Conference regular-season championship in the spring was largely paved behind the 3-point arc. The Colonials made 38 percent of their 3-point attempts in 2012-13, the 29th-best mark among Division I teams, but often became too dependent on it, as nearly half (46.2 percent) of their points came from 3s. When the shots were falling, it was a sound strategy. But when they weren’t, such as in a NEC tournament semifinal loss to Mount St. Mary’s, the team’s lack of balance was exposed. In order to make its first NCAA tournament since 2010, the Colonials will have to diversify their offense.
AT A GLANCE
• 2012-13: 24-11 overall, 14-4 Northeast; lost in second round of NIT.
• COACH: Andy Toole, fourth year, 68-36.
• PROBABLE STARTERS: G — Anthony Myers-Pate, Sr., 6-0 (5.9 ppg, 2.8 apg); G — Karvel Anderson, Sr., 6-2 (12.5 ppg, 43.9 percent on 3-pointers); F — Lucky Jones, Jr., 6-6 (11.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg); F — Jeremiah Worthem, Fr., 6-6 (NA); C — Mike McFadden, Sr., 6-8 (8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg).
• SCHEDULE (Home games in caps)
NOVEMBER — 9, SAVANNAH STATE, 7 p.m.; 12, Lafayette, 7 p.m.; 14, Eastern Michigan, 7:30 p.m.; 17, Kentucky, 7 p.m.; 21, TEXAS-ARLINGTON, 7 p.m.; 23, Cleveland State, 3 p.m.; 26, Buffalo, 7 p.m.; 30, Delaware, TBD
DECEMBER — 4, Youngstown State, 7:45 p.m.; 7, TOLEDO, 4 p.m.; 14, Duquesne, 2 p.m.; 18, CAMPBELL, 7 p.m.; 22, Oakland, 1 p.m.; 30, Oklahoma State, 7 p.m.
JANUARY — 4, Alabama, 5:30 p.m.; 9, Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.; 11, Bryant, 1 p.m.; 16, SAINT FRANCIS, Pa., 7 p.m.; 18, Mount St. Mary’s, 2 p.m.; 23, SACRED HEART, 7 p.m.; 25, WAGNER, 4 p.m.; 30, BRYANT, 7 p.m.
FEBRUARY — 1, CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE, 4 p.m.; 6, LIU Brooklyn, 7 p.m.; 8, St. Francis, N.Y., 2 p.m.; 13, Saint Francis, Pa., 7 p.m.; 15, MOUNT ST. MARY’S, 4 p.m.; 20, LIU BROOKLYN, 7 p.m.; 22, ST. FRANCIS, N.Y., 4 p.m.; 27, Fairleigh Dickinson, 7 p.m.
MARCH — 1, Wagner, 4 p.m.