Record: 14-8 (6-3 NEC, T-2nd); Last game: Loss at St. Francis Brooklyn, 71-61
KenPom Rank/RPI: 166/160
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY
TV/Web/Radio Coverage: TV: ESPNU / Radio: Red Zone Media (LIU)
History between teams: 66th meeting. Robert Morris leads the all-time series 28-37. LIU Brooklyn has won three of the last four meetings.
Who to watch for on Robert Morris:
#15 Karvel Anderson – 6’2″ – G – Jr. – 12.7 ppg/2.7 rpg/48.7 FG%/75.0 FT% – Scored season-high 22 pts twice, last time vs Mount St. Mary’s, scored 14 pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game.
#1 Velton Jones– 6’0″ – G – Sr. – 11.4 ppg/5.2 apg/37.3 FG%/78.6 FT% – Scored season-high 24 pts vs Bryant, scored zero pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game. Left game with a shoulder injury two minutes into the game.
#22 Lucky Jones – 6’5″ – G – So. – 10.7 ppg/5.9 rpg/43.6 FG%/79.1 FT % – Scored career-high 18 pts three times, last time vs Quinnipiac, scored 11 pts vs St. Francis Brooklyn in last game.
Matchups to watch:
RMU Guards vs LIU Guards: This will be an interesting matchup between each team’s starting guards. On paper, the advantage looks to be in RMU’s favor. Combine the scoring averages of RMU starting guards and add on Karvel Anderson coming off the bench and this group averages 44.3 ppg. LIU starting guards combined for 32.3 ppg. Look for the group who has the bigger game to come out on top.
Robert Morris and LIU Brooklyn. These two teams have meet one another five times in the last two seasons. They have played each other in last two NEC championship games, both LIU wins. Most of the players and coaches on both teams have been around for the battles with one another. RMU fans, hate LIU. LIU fans, don’t particularly care for RMU. There is no love lost when these two teams meet.
Both teams are coming into this matchup hot. RMU just had their six-game winning streak snapped on Thursday by St. Francis Brooklyn. LIU is now on a season-high six game winning streak of their own. Now, both teams are amongst four teams tied for second in the NEC with a 6-3 record, one game back of Bryant.
Robert Morris trademark has always been their strong defense but this season it is their offensive play like most teams in the NEC that is carrying their play. RMU is fourth in the NEC in scoring offense at 71.0 points per game. They are third in the NEC, behind LIU and Bryant in offensive points per possession with 1.03 ppp. They are also fourth in the NEC in three-point shooting percentage at 37.2%.
RMU defense is still one of the best in the NEC. They’re second in the NEC in scoring defense at 67.4 points per game allowed and third in the league in points per possession allowed with a 0.99 ppp. The Colonials are third in the NEC in steals. Yet, RMU is eighth in the NEC in effective field goal percentage at 46.1% and rebounding at 28.4 rpg.
The Colonials are led in scoring by Karvel Anderson and his 12.7 ppg. Anderson is currently coming off the bench after he started ten straight games at one point. Anderson has taken the most shots on this RMU team. His 195 shots taken is 18 more than Velton Jones who is undoubtedly the leader of this RMU squad. Anderson is a dangerous scorer. His scoring average per 40 minutes is 20.8 ppg. He is second on the team in three-point shooting too. Jones is averaging 11.4 ppg this season. He is currently one point shy of being the ninth player in the history of the NEC to reach 1500 points and dish 500 assists. Jones though has been an injury magnet this season. For the first time in his career, he has had to miss a game due to injury. On Thursday, Jones played in only two minutes as he hurt his shoulder running into a screen on defense. His availability for this game will undoubtedly be a game-time decision. I would except him to be a go.
Lucky Jones is the team’s leader in minutes played. He is averaging 10.7 ppg and is second on the team in rebounding at 5.9 rpg. At 6’5″, he will be a matchup problem to 6’1″ Brandon Thompson. Add on Coron Williams, Anthony Myers-Pate and David Appolon and RMU probably has the deepest depth in terms of guards in the NEC. As deep as they are at the guard position, they lack depth in the front court. Mike McFadden and Russell Johnson start in the front court. The two combine for 17.7 ppg and just over ten rebounds per game. After these two forwards, the only other forward they have available is 6’9″ freshman Stephan Hawkins. If Velton Jones is unavailable, RMU head coach Andy Toole will be down to eight rotation players. Depth then becomes an issue for the Colonials.
As for LIU Brooklyn, they come off the win vs Saint Francis University on Thursday. In this six-game winning streak, the Blackbirds have scored at least 75 points in every game. They are scoring at 1.129 points per possession clip on offense during this winning streak. They are given up exactly one point per possession on defense during this streak. The Blackbirds are also shooting 50.5% from the field during this span.
Who is hot right now? Booker Hucks. He is scorching the nets from three in the last two games, shooting an incredible 9 for 13 from downtown. Also, Jason Brickman who is averaging 11.3 assists per game over the last three games. Brickman, with just five assists will become LIU Brooklyn’s all-time assist leader passing Robert Cole’s 610 assists and is now second all-time in the NEC in assists. Lastly, Jamal Olasewere has been playing consistent basketball of late and averaging 18.6 ppg and 9 rebounds over the last three games. Olasewere with seven points will pass Antawn Dobie (1627 pts) for sixth on the LIU all-time scoring list.
Who is not? The LIU bench. Outside of Booker Hucks, the LIU bench had a rough one Thursday night. The bench outside of Hucks combined for five points on just one of two shooting in a combined 33 total minutes. E.J. Reed in particular had his roughest game since the calendar began saying 2013. Reed finished with two points and two rebounds in only nine minutes, collecting four fouls. Outside of the Bryant game (15 points), he has cooled off over the last five games after a five game stretch where he was averaging 15.6 ppg.
So the question will be up until game time is will Velton Jones be good enough to play with his shoulder injury or won’t he? Jones, even with all the assortment of injuries, has only missed one game this season which they won at home against Sacred Heart. Andy Toole doesn’t let injuries be used as an excuse. He expect the next person up to step up and come up big. That is why RMU has been so successful over the years from the Mike Rice era through now.
This should be an exciting, close game throughout. LIU is expecting in all likelihood their biggest crowd of the season with a good number of student body in attendance. LIU will have to continue doing what they have been good of late which is win the rebounding margin. They also need to cut back on the turnovers and bad fouls, there were too many of those vs SFU. If LIU can continue the balance scoring and shooting, they will be in good shape. What they can’t afford to do is fall behind big early. RMU will tighten up defensive to prevent LIU from getting back in it in the second half. Hopefully, LIU can get off to a good start like they did like they did last time out vs SFU.
Ken Pomeroy’s Game Projection:
Ken Pomeroy on his website has LIU Brooklyn beating Robert Morris by a projected score of 79-78 with a 51% probability of a Robert Morris win. Up until today, KenPom had RMU as the small favorite for this game.
The Blackbirds heads back to Connecticut for a visit with the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. Tip is scheduled for 7:00 pm.