Opponent: Robert Morris
Record: 11-11, 7-3 NEC (Last game: L vs Bryant 71-68)
KenPom Ranking: 195
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row; Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: 69th all-time meeting. Robert Morris leads the series, 40-28. RMU has won the last three straight games in the series and four out of the last five.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Robert Morris: Kavon Stewart (G), Marcquise Reed (G), Rodney Pryor (G), Lucky Jones (F), Aaron Tate (F)
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Joel Hernandez (F), Nura Zanna (F)
Robert Morris is going about their business the way Robert Morris seemingly only knows how. By being a consistent winner, year in and year out.
No NEC coach has gone about winning at a level that RMU head coach Andy Toole has gone since he took over for Mike Rice back in 2010. RMU is 101-61 under his tenure and has finished in the top three in the NEC in every season he has been at RMU including back-to-back regular season championships in the last two seasons.
This season, Toole has RMU tied for second-place at 7-3 coming into this game. They recently just has a four-game win streak snapped in a home loss to Bryant in their most recent game last Saturday. In their three NEC losses this season, none of them has been by more than seven points.
RMU lost last season’s NEC Player of the Year Karvel Anderson to graduation but returned All-NEC star forward Lucky Jones this season. Jones even though he has put up decent numbers this season has not had the season most expected him to have in his senior year. His play has been picking up of late including a pair of double-doubles against Wagner and Sacred Heart. He is third on the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game and lead the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg) and minutes played (29.6 mpg). He is averaging 14.1 ppg in NEC play so far this season.
The top scorers on RMU are both newcomers in freshman Marcquise Reed and juco transfer Rodney Pryor. Reed is the leading candidate and pretty much a lock to be NEC Rookie of the Year after this week winning his league-high fifth NEC Rookie of the Week award. Reed leads the Colonials in scoring with 14.6 points per game. He is sixth in the NEC in field goal shooting at nearly 52%. He is the NEC top three-point shooter at nearly 46% and second in the NEC in steals at nearly two per game. He has reach double figures scoring in 13 of his last 15 games. Pryor is second on the team in scoring with 14 points per game. He is shooting 47% from the field and 40% from three. He is also second on the team in rebounding with 4.5 rebounds per game. He recently collected his first double-double of the season with a 28 points and 11 rebound game against FDU last week. Both will likely end up as All-NEC selections at the end of the season.
Another player to watch out for is sophomore point guard Kavon Stewart. He leads the team in assists at 4 assists per game and is second in steals with 1.4 steals per game. He is sixth on the team in scoring at 5.5 points per game. Collected a double-double versus former LIU head coach Jim Ferry’s Duquesne team this season (12 pts/11 asts).
Due to another round of player departures this season, RMU currently have just 10 players left on their roster. Toole mostly plays just an eight-man rotation.
RMU is in the middle of the pack offensively in the NEC this season. RMU scores 67.5 points per game this season and 0.98 points per possession. They are the top three-point shooting team in the conference at 42.4%. In NEC play, RMU is scoring 1.08 points per possession. On the defensive end, which has always been a staple of the Colonials, RMU allows 69.2 points per game and 1.00 points per possession. In NEC play, RMU has tighten up the D, allowing a NEC second-best 0.98 points per possession. They are susceptible to allowing offensive rebounds to opponents as opposition has collected over 34% of their missed shots against them.
Senior Gerrell Martin deserves the spotlight as he is currently LIU’s leading scorer at 12.7 points per game and is second in the NEC in league scoring with 16.6 points per game. Martin is shooting 47.4% from the field in conference play and is third in the NEC in three-point shooting at 44.1% in NEC games. He has made 26 threes in NEC play which is second most in conference play.
Martin has led the Blackbirds in scoring in their last two games and six of their ten conference games so far this season. Martin has scored at least 17 points in seven of the ten NEC games this season and in three of those ten games, grabbed at least seven rebounds.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Chase after offensive boards: As I noted earlier, RMU gives up a good number of offensive rebounds to their opponents. LIU has to take advantage and get some offensive boards and get some much needed second-chance points.
– Shore up the three-point defense: RMU is the best three-point shooting team in the NEC. This could force Jack Perri to play more man-to-man defense instead of 2-3 zone to prevent open looks from Colonials shooters.
– Be upset-minded: LIU need to get an upset win along the way here. Their next seven games are all against teams ahead of them in the standings. LIU to insure themselves a return to the NEC tournament need to get some upset wins down the stretch of the season and winning these games at home would go a long way to making sure that happens.
KenPom Game Prediction: Robert Morris, 69-68. LIU win probability: 45%.
LIU Brooklyn completes their brief two-game homestand when they take on Saint Francis University (PA) on Saturday, February 7th. Tip-off scheduled for 4:30pm.