Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 22 – (NEC Game 9) – Robert Morris Colonials

RMULIUBKOpponent: Robert Morris Colonials

Record: 12-11; 7-1 NEC; 5-9 on the road; Last game: Loss vs CCSU, 74-73

Current KenPom Ranking: 174 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 305 – up from 308 before previous game)

Date and Time: Thursday, February 6, 7:00 PM

Location: Steinberg Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: TV: ESPNU & WatchESPN; Radio: Red Zone Media

Meeting History: 67th all-time meeting. Robert Morris leads series 28-38. Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 60-57, 2012-13.

Robert Morris’s Players to Watch:

1. Karvel Anderson #15 – 6’2″ Guard – Sr. – 19.2 ppg/3.3 rpg/52.1 FG%/47.3 3FG%/29.3 mpg
2. Lucky Jones #22 – 6’6″ Forward – Jr. – 14.1 ppg/6.5 rpg/41.7 FG%/38.6 3FG%/28.8 mpg
3. Anthony Myers-Pate #5 – 6’0″ Guard – Sr. – 6.4 ppg/4.1 apg/39.0 FG%/28.6 3FG%/26.0 mpg

Matchup to Watch: LIU’s Zone Defense vs RMU’s Karvel Anderson

Scouting the Colonials:

Robert Morris comes into this matchup with LIU Brooklyn as the first-place team in the NEC with their 7-1 record. Their perfect start was recently snapped at home by CCSU last Saturday in a one-point loss.

RMU is going through a somewhat similar situation to what LIU Brooklyn faced at times last season and this season. The Colonials currently have just eight players on their roster. Two players (Mike McFadden and Desjuan Newton) left the team and four more players (Jeremiah Worthem, Britton Lee, Evan Grey and Shaire Tolson-Ford) were suspended by the university for a full calendar year for violating an undisclosed university policy.

This leaves RMU head coach Andy Toole with just eight scholarship players to go with the rest of the season in Kavon Stewart, David Appolon, Anthony Myers-Pate, Charles Oliver, Karvel Anderson, Lucky Jones, Aaron Tate and Stephan Hawkins.

Since they lost the four suspended players on January 23rd, RMU is 3-1 with these eight players, including a blowout win of Sacred Heart, wins over NEC contenders Wagner and Bryant before getting upset by CCSU. One common factor in all four games, they were all played at home. This game is a start of a three-game road trip for them.

The best player on RMU without a doubt is senior shooting guard Karvel Anderson. If the season ended today, he would likely win NEC Player of the Year. For my money, he is the best shooter in the NEC bar none. He is having another remarkable season. Anderson is averaging 19.2 ppg in under 30 mpg. He is shooting an incredible 52% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc. That is staggering numbers for a shooter, Shane Gibson-esque. He has reached double figures in all but one game. He has score 20 or more points ten times and 30 or more points twice. He is just a fantastic player who will look to exploit LIU’s zone defense with his lethal three-point shot. He has taken the second-most (165) three-point attempts of any NEC player.

Behind Anderson is junior forward Lucky Jones who is also having a great season. Jones has amassed four double-doubles this season and is averaging over 14 ppg and leads RMU in rebounding at 6.5 rpg. He has scored over 20 points four times this season and most recently scored 22 points against CCSU in their previous game. Jones can get himself into foul trouble, he has fouled out of three games this season but has not fouled out in NEC play. Jones has shot 114 threes this season so he will provide another challenge to LIU’s zone defense.

Senior point guard Anthony Myers-Pate now leads this team after the departure of LIU nemesis Velton Jones. Myers-Pate has picked up his play since the players suspensions averaging over 12 ppg over the last four games while shooting over 59% in that span. Myers-Pate protects the ball well. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.6 and has committed just 5 turnovers over the last four games. Not really a strong outside shooter at 28% from three, he has made 6 of his last 10 attempts from deep in this last four-game stretch.

Two other players LIU will need to keep a close eye on are junior guard Charles Oliver (6.2 ppg/37.7% 3FG%) and sophomore forward Aaron Tate (3.4 ppg/3.7 rpg). These two guys could be X-factor guys who can provide RMU with a spark off the bench. Also, 6’9″ Stephan Hawkins is RMU’s biggest player who could a problem for LIU in the paint. Half of Hawkins’ rebounds this season has come on the offensive glass.

RMU has always had a reputation for playing great defense since the days of Mike Rice as head coach. This season though, they have become more of an offensive team even though their defense is still pretty strong. RMU is second in the NEC on offensive efficiency at 115.3 points per 100 possessions. They score 74.3 ppg offensively. They are the best three-point shooting team in the NEC at 41.9% and are also the best free-throw shooting team in the NEC at 77.8%. They do all this while playing one of the slowest tempos in the NEC at just under 67 possessions per game.

RMU’s defense gives up 75.7 points per game. Their defensive efficiency is second in the NEC at 104.6 points allowed per 100 possessions. They’re first in the NEC in defensive turnover rate and steal percentage. RMU does allow the opposition to get their points inside the three-point arc. Teams are shooting 54.3% on two-point shots which second-worst in the NEC.

Updating the Blackbirds:

At 2-6, LIU is off to their worst NEC start since 2007-08 season where they were also 2-6 before going 5-5 in their last 10 conference games to go 7-11 and finished with the seven-seed in the NEC tourney that season.

LIU is coming off one of the most heartbreaking losses of the season with a three-point loss at Mount St. Mary’s.

With ten more assists, point guard Jason Brickman (930) will pass Ohio’s D.J. Cooper (934) and Oregon State’s and NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton (939) to go into 11th place on the NCAA career all-time assist list. Brickman has been on a double-double tear of late with three in the last four games. He is averaging 11.5 ppg and 12.5 apg over the last four games.

Sophomore E.J. Reed has picked up his scoring of late. He is averaging 18 ppg over his last three games while shooting over 54% from the field including hitting four three-pointers in the last two games. With the exception of the Wagner game where he fouled out, he has curbed his foul woes. He played in 35 minutes in the exciting loss to Mount St. Mary’s last Saturday.

Freshman Iverson Fleming is coming off his second-best game as a Blackbird with 18 points off the bench against the Mount. He went 9 of 13 from the field. His three-point shot has been off (10 for 40 this season) but he has been driving more aggressively lately and he is showing great ability to finish at the rim.

LIU Brooklyn is just 3-2 at the Steinberg Wellness Center this season and are just 1-2 there in NEC games so far this season.

Injury Updates:

Gilbert Parga: He had an MRI earlier this week and is now off his walking boot that he has had on for last couple of weeks. He is right now questionable to play this week but I don’t believe he will be ready to go for the RMU game even though he could be a game-time decision. Parga has not played since playing just one minute in LIU’s win at Central Connecticut on January 18th. He has missed LIU’s last four games.

Chris Carter: It looks like another LIU player has bit the dust for the season. All indications I have been given is that Carter is now likely done for the rest of the season with his broken foot. Carter played in only seven games this season, playing in just 54 total minutes. He last appeared in a game back on December 9th at Lehigh. It is not clear yet whether or not Carter is eligible to seek a medical redshirt for this season.

Keys to Victory for LIU:

– Find Mr. Anderson: Do whatever it takes to keep the ball away from Karvel Anderson or force him to pass rather than shoot. If Anderson is having a good night, it is going to be a bad night for LIU.

– Battle of the bench: I believe the team who has the better play off the bench will win this game so guys like Feidanga, Fleming and Griggs need to have positive, productive minutes coming off the bench.

– Don’t let the 3 beat you…again: LIU will need to make quicker adjustment if RMU starts off hot from three like the Mount did in their last game. It caused LIU to have to play catch all game long.

KenPom Score Projection: 80-76 Robert Morris (LIU Win Probability: 35%)

Side Note:

This is a “Blackout” game for LIU Brooklyn. LIU is urging all fans and students going to the game to wear black. The game is going to be nationally televised on ESPNU. The first 300 fans will get a free t-shirt.

It would be great to see LIU get a nice, large and very loud crowd for the game. Fans and students should get to the game early and be ready to be heard. RMU has won the last two regular season meetings at the SWC by a combined four points. LIU needs this game so it is time for Blackbird Nation to come up big and come out and support the Blackbirds Thursday night in front of the nation!

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn completes the two-game home stand with a visit from the much-improved Saint Francis University Red Flash on Saturday, February 8. Tip off is scheduled for 4:30 pm. It is the second game of a women’s/men’s doubleheader.

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