Current KenPom Ranking: 146 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 317 – up from 320 before previous game)
Date and Time: Thursday, February 20, 7:00 PM
Location: Charles L. Sewall Center, Moon Township, PA
Meeting History: 68th all-time meeting. Robert Morris leads series 39-28. Last meeting: @ LIU Brooklyn, 65-56, February 6th.
Robert Morris’s Players to Watch:
1. Karvel Anderson #15 – 6’2″ Guard – Sr. – 18.8 ppg/3.3 rpg/51.6 FG%/47.0 3FG%/29.1 mpg
2. Lucky Jones #22 – 6’6″ Forward – Jr. – 13.7 ppg/6.5 rpg/41.8 FG%/39.5 3FG%/29.0 mpg
3. Anthony Myers-Pate #5 – 6’0″ Guard – Sr. – 6.6 ppg/3.9 apg/40.1 FG%/29.3 3FG%/26.7 mpg
Matchup to Watch: LIU’s Gerrell Martin vs RMU’s Karvel Anderson
Scouting the Colonials:
What can you say about the Robert Morris Colonials that hasn’t been said already? RMU is 11-1. They have a two-game lead over second-place Bryant plus they have the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Bulldogs by beating them in both meetings this season.
RMU’s Sewall Center has been a house of horrors for LIU Brooklyn over the last fifteen years. LIU is just 2-11 since 1998 at Robert Morris. LIU last win at RMU came in 2011, the first NEC championship year of this current era. The Blackbirds didn’t visit RMU last season. The Colonials has the second-best home winning percentage of all NEC teams this season (.800).
RMU has won four straight games after their upset loss at home against Central Connecticut back on February 1. Since January 23rd when they lost four players to suspension for the rest of the season, RMU has gone 7-1 playing with just eight total players on their roster.
Two main reasons for their successes in the NEC this season and why they have run away from the pack in the conference. Their defense and Karvel Anderson. RMU this season has gone to mainly playing a zone defense which they have excelled at executing. RMU is given up just 64 ppg on the defensive in their last eight games. In the last four games, the defense has even toughen up more allowing only 56.7 ppg. Only three times in the last eight games has an RMU opponent scored over a point per possession against them and just once in the last four games.
Then you have Mr. Anderson. Karvel Anderson. In my opinion, he is the slight front-runner for NEC Player of the Year along with Bryant’s Alex Francis. Anderson has earned the designation of being the NEC’s best shooter. It doesn’t matter what defense you throw at him or who guards him, he is going to get his points by means of deadly accuracy. Last time against LIU, he went scoreless in the first half thanks to two first-half fouls, he went on to score 16 points in the second half and hit 4 of 6 threes. When he wants to score, he is going to score and that is what makes him incredible tough to play against.
Lucky Jones continues to be RMU’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder. Jones is currently on Ken Pomeroy’s all-NEC team along with teammate Karvel Anderson. Jones numbers this season has some people talking about him as a long-shot candidate for NEC Player of the Year. No doubt he has had another tremendous season for Andy Toole’s Colonials.
With this group of Colonials, it seems like a different player steps up along with Jones and Anderson. Whether it is Anthony Myers-Pate who can score from outside or Charles Oliver who had a career-high 19 points against Mount St. Mary’s last Saturday or Stephan Hawkins, someone else puts their best foot forward when you probably least expect it.
RMU is currently second in the NEC in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They are first offensive and defensive turnover percentage, first in offensive and defensive free throw rate and first in the NEC in three-point shooting percentage and free-throw percentage.
Updating the Blackbirds:
The Blackbirds are coming off a huge and quite frankly a much-needed win against St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday at the Barclays Center in the annual Battle of Brooklyn game. At 3-8, LIU is still in ninth place in the NEC. They didn’t get any help from the St. Francis Brooklyn on Tuesday as one of the teams they are chasing, CCSU, beat St. Francis Brooklyn 73-71 on the road thanks to a Kyle Vinales three-pointer with six seconds left.
The CCSU win put them 2 wins ahead of LIU with LIU having a game in hand. FDU is currently one win ahead of LIU but by virtue of FDU’s head-to-head win against LIU earlier this season, FDU owns the tiebreaker against LIU. It is still a big uphill climb for LIU if they are to reach the NEC tournament this season. John Templon of Big Apple Buckets calculated after the LIU win against St. Francis Brooklyn that LIU still only had a 28% chance of making the NEC tournament.
LIU made a couple of changes in their win against St. Francis Brooklyn. First, head coach Jack Perri decided to bring second-leading scorer Landon Atterberry off the bench. Atterberry had himself the second-best game of the season with 20 points on 9 of 12 shooting. It will be interesting to see if Perri decides to finish the season with Atterberry coming off the bench.
Also, Perri decided he had seen enough of LIU’s zone defense and decided to go back to playing man-to-man defense. The change helped in both the rebounding and three-point defending departments. Things LIU will need to do better at in this second-meeting against RMU.
Also, LIU got the welcomed return of both Gerrell Martin and Gilbert Parga who both finished in double figures against the Terriers. LIU also got a nice performance from this week’s NEC Rookie of the Week Glenn Feidanga who scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. E.J. Reed had his snapped his double-figure scoring streak at five and his non-foul out streak at three in the win on Sunday.
Keys to Victory for LIU:
– Keep the ball away from Mr. Anderson: Easier said than done but they got to make it as difficult as possible for Anderson to get clean looks. Even with a defender on him, he will make shots. LIU is got to hope he has an off night.
– Need LIU forwards to step up again: LIU forwards had a good game last time out vs SFBK and they’ll need another good game once again. Reed will need to help out scoring wise and hopefully Atterberry and Feiadanga can have back-to-back good games.
– Play from in front: RMU really hasn’t had to play from behind a lot this season in NEC play. It would be nice to LIU get off to a good start and keep a lead throughout the game. RMU loves to play from in front because they can hold teams at bay on the defensive end and dictate the pace offensive where they don’t wear themselves out.
KenPom Score Projection: 83-68 Robert Morris (LIU Win Probability: 9%)
Next up for the Blackbirds:
LIU Brooklyn moves on to Lorreto, PA to play the middle game of this final three-game road trip as they take on Saint Francis University on Saturday, February 22. Game is schedule to start at 2pm. Game can be seen on NEC Front Row.